Accordions Worldwide

The Squeeze
(Editorial & Updates)

News from October 1996

Back to Past news

Back to this weeks news

News titles:

  • Marcosignori & Cameli Downunder
  • Competition Time in China
  • Mogens Ellegaard Obituary (May 1996)
  • AAA Celebrates 1996, The Year of the Accordion
  • Suzi Lee Accordion Hits
  • USA National Music Week
  • Accordion Music in the Movies


    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 Castelfidardo.

    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 New Zealand.


    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 Accordion Festival.

    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.



    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.

    Thank-you Mogens.


    Contributed by Faithe Deffner, President of the American Accordionists' Association

    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 years.

    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.


    Contributed by Faithe Deffner, President of the American Accordionists' Association

    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.


    Contributed by Faithe Deffner, President of the American Accordionists' Association

    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.


    Contributed by Faithe Deffner, President of the American Accordionists' Association

    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.

    Top | Index | Terminology | Web site hosting | Search | Contact Us

    to comment on these pages, e-mail the webmaster