|News from October 1996|
MARCOSIGNORI AND CAMELI DOWNUNDER
By Silvio de Pra
I visited Queensland, Australia at Easter. As usual,
I met up with the local accordionists club and played an item
at their monthly concert. I was also reunited with my old friend
Aussie Mazzei and his son Leo, and we talked about accordions
and the accordion world for hours.
Aussie told me that in August, Gerrasio Marcosignori
and Giuliamo Camieli were coming to Surfers Paradise (near Brisbane,
Australia) to give a concert. On my return to New Zealand, I
learned that the Federation Of Accordionists had also arranged
for Marcosignori and Camieli to give two concerts in Auckland.
I was delighted that I had a chance to hear them,
and perhaps meet them personally. When I was a young, amateur
accordion enthusiast I used to listen to Marcosignori playing
on National Radio, back in my native Italy. Although I was in
Castelfidardo in 1988 (for the 125th anniversary celebrations
of the manufacture of the accordion) I did not have the opportunity
to meet him.
For years, I have listened to Marcosignori's records
and followed his career. He has given concerts all over the world
and has also been a great ambassador of the accordion, and for
On 17th of August 1996, in Auckland, I
finally heard (and enjoyed!) Marcosignori, playing MIDI. His electronic
accordion sounds like an entire orchestra, just like on his records.
I also heard Giuliano Cameli, a master of his diatonic accordion,
for the first time. He played acoustically. The sounds he was
able to make with one and half row of buttons, and eight bass
notes, were almost unbelievable.
The afternoon concert was appreciated by all. Most
of the accordionists were anxious to meet the performers, and
they obliged gracefully. Being Italian, I had a bit of an advantage,
because we could communicate more easily. In some cases, I interpreted
for others. Gerrasio and Giuliano were most affable. They answered
questions and signed autographs.
I invited them to come and see me at the restaurant
(where I play regularly on Friday and Saturday nights) after they
had finished their evening concert. To my honour and delight,
they arrived at around 11pm, with the Italian vice-consul!! We
were also joined by the restaurant owner, Antonio, and had a great
evening of food, wine and laughter.
The next day we met again. We lunched at a restaurant
in the hills overlooking Auckland, along with a group of accordionists.
From there, I took Gerrasio and Giuliano to my place to meet
my wife Lesley; then they left for the airport.
Gerrasio and Giuliano are delightful gentlemen.
It was a great honour for me to meet and befriend them here in
COMPETITIONS TIME IN CHINA
By Wu Jie
Earlier this year the Yunnan Accordion Association
was formed, in the Kumming Province. In August, Seminov (a Bayan
player from Russia) and Grant Martin (a Jazz Accordionist from
New Zealand) performed concerts at the Third International Accordion
Festival held in Beijing, and the Inaugural Yunnan International
There have been many accordion competitions in China
recently. In May, the 4th "Xiwang Cup" Beijing
Children and Young Accordionists Competition was held in the Cultural
Centre of the Eastern Districts of Beijing. There were over 400
competitors, with about 200 of them claiming 1st, 2nd
and 3rd prizes. A Closing Ceremony and Presentation
was held at the Youth Palace in Beijing.
Near the end of June, a group of Chinese accordionists
travelled to France, to compete in the 29th International
Accordion Competition, organised by the France Accordion Society.
All the Chinese competitors did extremely well.
On the 10th and 11th of August,
the Fourth Annual Zhanjing Children Accordionists' Competition
was held in Zhanjing, in the Guangdong Province of China. There
were about 200 competitors, who were divided into 7 age groups.
20% of the competitors gained placings.
Two days later, the 1st Liaoning Accordionists
Competition was staged. There were about 250 accordionists, who
were divided into 6 age groups. A total of about 30 accordionists
were awarded placings from 1st to 3rd.
MOGENS ELLEGAARD OBITUARY, May 1996
By Gregor Siegler
Here we stand, all his friends, admirers, and those
who now and then screwed up their noses at him. We are united
in great sadness. He has gone from us, so suddenly and too soon,
at 60 years of age.
Mogens Ellegaard was a big man, and a big musician.
I intentionally write musician - not accordionist or harmonica
player. Mogens Ellegaard was one of the few accordionists who
was as well known in the International music world as in accordion
circles. A Danish music professor once said "Mogens Ellegaard
is one of the few world renowned musicians that Denmark has".
It is strange that Mogens' career both started and
finished with a hospital stay. He often recalled how he started
playing the accordion. As a 9 year old boy, he fell from a balcony
and went to hospital, and his father gave him an accordion as
a get-well gift. His lifelong enthusiasm for the instrument began.
He won the Danish Championship several times and
performed in music halls and on radio, then performed in the United
States. Ellegaard saw that the accordion was not as appreciated
as much as other instruments, so he began playing more classical music and
working with other instrumentalists and composers. He realised
that the standard bass, with it's locked in chords and simple
bass scale was inadequate, so began playing a new concert model,
the Hohner-Gola. This model had Free Bass, with over five octaves.
Unfortunately, little new music was available for the new instrument,
but Ellegaard had some written by Scandinavian composers. This
act changed the face of accordion music.
Mogens later had a smaller children's version of
the Hohner-Gola built, which led to the eventual acceptance of
our instrument in established instrument ranks. From 1971, the
instrument was taught at music conservatories, and Ellegaard was
honoured with a professorship by the Royal Danish Music Conservatory
for his outstanding input.
Mogens Ellegaard never lost the vision of his goal,
to popularise accordion playing, despite scorn and criticism.
Almost single-handedly, he established the accordion as a fully
accepted musical instrument. At a recent new music and jazz festival,
one soloist after another played at a level which five or six
years ago would have been impossible. I think Mogens would have
smiled in his heaven when he saw that what he sowed had borne
the most beautiful fruit.
AAA CELEBRATES 1996 - THE YEAR OF THE ACCORDION
Hundreds of accordionists flocked to Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania from July 11-15 to declare their passion for the
musical instrument which is fast soaring to new heights of popularity.
The festival honored Myron Floren, who is widely acclaimed as
the star of the Lawrence Welk TV Show which ran for 32
In addition, Myron's concert appearances have earned
him a solid reputation as one of the country's most sought after
entertainers. The festival included many special events, such
as six spectacular Entertainment AAA showbands, the "Endless
Performance Ballroom" featuring accordion entertainment,
a Floren Memorabilia room containing many souvenirs of Myron's
long and distinguished career, a Memory Lane Breakfast, plus an
accordion and accessory exhibit room featuring product demos.
As part of Philadelphia's Accordion Festival, Myron
Floren conducted a massed band of hundreds of accordionists at
Independence Park in downtown Philadelphia, on Friday, 12 July.
Weekend events also included the Myron Floren Tribute Concert,
Testimonial Banquet and a concert starring Myron Floren with the
Tim Laushey Orchestra.
As a soloist, or heading a troupe of Welk
stars, Floren is constantly on the road, performing over 150 annual
dates. Despite the gruelling schedule, Myron loves it. "Making
people happy keeps me young," he says, playing his accordion
with unparalleled ease and obviously enjoying every moment of
creating those toe-tapping melodies while flashing his boyish
grin. His appearances range from leading the band at Disneyland,
to guesting at Welk's Branson (Missouri) Champagne Theatre. Polka
to Bach cantata, Myron plays everything with equal style and grace.
SUZI LEE SLIDES INTO ACCORDION HITS
Accordions are traditionally associated with Cajun
and Zydeco music, or maybe the occasional polka. Certainly an
accordion is not the first instrument that jumps to mind when
you think of aggressive alternative rock. An up and coming band,
Slide, makes one think otherwise. Suzi Lee, the band's
accordion player, introduced the instrument largely because it
was easier to transport than an organ.
She has used the accordion
to power the band through their first album and a string of gigs
that have gotten the band noticed by several labels and by publications
such as Billboard. "I used to play all the shows
with a Hammond organ," Lee explained. "It weighed 400
pounds and for small shows I'd play the accordion. The difference
between a little suitcase and a great big coffin was amazing.
It really started out just as something different." The
accordion is featured on all the tracks on the band's release:
Forgiving Buckner, a powerful, gritty disc that evokes
the sounds of The Band as much as any contemporary band. The
accordion is also a plus for the band's live shows. "Suzi
can dance on stage or even on bars," said Slide guitarist
and vocalist Wolf Wortis. "It's really high energy."
"A lot of accordion players have heard about this,"
Lee added. "I've gotten calls and notes from people across
the country." The accordion is almost indistinguishable
from many of the songs on Forgiving Buckner.
NATIONAL MUSIC WEEK PERFORMANCE.
The 73rd annual observance of National
Music Week provided a public concert opportunity for a group of
Connecticut accordionists who played a benefit performance for
the Muscular Dystrophy Association at the North Haven Middle School.
Founded in 1993, the ensemble, "Bellows Inc." played
music from Fiddler and Oklahoma as well as Vivaldi
and Chopin, plus contemporary works such as Jazz Burlesque
by Gary Daverne, Joseph Biviano's The Rooster and
Manhatten Concerto by Eugene Ettore. Ensemble members are
Mary Tokarski, a former AAA United States Accordion Champion,
Linda Soley Reed, Cheryl Dias Kohler, Julie Cardona, Walter Kasprzyk,
Marilyn Cross and Sany Vasmatics.
ACCORDION MUSIC IN THE MOVIES
Two recent movies have featured accordion music predominantly in their soundtracks:
The Postman (Il Postino)featured
Massimo Troisi who earned a posthumous Best Actor nomination
and was the title character in this disarming Italian movie about
a simple man's profound effect on a poet. The widely praised
film is enhanced by a soundtrack which boasts accordion throughout.
12 Monkeys is a movie
featuring Bruce Willis, Brad Pitt and Madeleine Stow. People
Magazine described the film as a "virus drama that doesn't
catch." However, what does catch about this flick is the
score which resounds with the accordion.
A documentary about this film will deal with its
director, Terry Gilliam, and is titled "The Hamster
Factor." Accordionist Carmelo Pino will perform in
it. John Benskin composed the original music for this
documentary and it features accordion, piano and violin in the
idiom of the Tango, making it reminiscent of the Piazzola soundtrack
which gives the accordion prominence in the 12 Monkeys.