The 2005 Vivian Vivio Stolaruk Memorial International Entertainment Competition for Accordionists, American Accordionists’ Association (AAA)


Written by: Faithe Deffner
Publication: American Accordionists’ Association (AAA) Press Release, July 2005

In an event of marathon proportions, 21 contestants signed up for the Vivian Vivio Stolaruk International Entertainment Competition for Accordionists that took place July 7 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Dearborn, Michigan, under the auspices of the American Accordionists’ Association, in conjunction with the organization’s five-day 2005 Accordion Festival.

Contestants from Canada, France, Poland and Russia, as well as Alabama, California, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah and Washington within the US, vied for the substantial prizes in a competition which lasted nearly 10 hours and left judges and audiences astounded at the high level of performance and musicianship.

Among the competing musicians were several past winners of the Coupe Mondiale, the Klingenthal International and other high caliber national and international competitions as well as professional accordionists such as the soloist with the acclaimed Quartetto Gelato, the soloist with TV’s Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians Show and others whose credits include accompanying famous singers and instrumentalists in international performances. The event provided a concert extravaganza for the more than 300 accordion aficionados who attended.

Accordionist Julien Labro (picture left) won the impressive $10,000 first place prize. Originally from France, Julien now lives in Dearborn where he is a student-protégé of the internationally acclaimed accordion maestro Peter Soave, who in his youth won numerous international competitions. Labro’s victories include the 1996 Coupe Mondiale as well as many other competitions. He received his Bachelor’s degree from Wayne State University in Detroit where he won WSU’s Concerto Competition in 2001, 2002 and 2003, received the Lawson Scholarship in 2002, the prestigious Presidential Endowed Scholarship in 2003 and the Presser Scholarship in 2004. A member of Pi Kappa Lambda Honorary Musical Fraternity, Julien was recognized by the United States Achievement Academy as a Collegiate All-American Scholar in 2003 and 2004.

Pictured left to right, Alexander Poeleuv of Russia (second place), Philippe Bouvier of France (third place) and Julien Labro of Dearborn, Michigan (first place), portrait of the late Vivian Stolaruk, flanked by Steve Stolaruk and Competition Co-Chair Faithe Deffner

Alexander Poeluev of Russia won the second place prize of $3,000. A student of noted accordionist, composer and educator Viatcheslav A. Semionov, he graduated from the Gnessin Academy of Music in Moscow in 2003. Poeluev is a two-time winner of Russia’s Piano and Button Accordion Competition. In 2002, he won both the Coupe Mondiale World Accordion Championship and the International Piano Accordion Competition. Alexander recently completed his Master degree under Semionov

Third Place prize, $2000, was won by Philippe Bouvier of France, who studies with noted accordion educator Frederic Deschamps, the chairman of the Music Committee of the Confederation Internationale des Accordeonistes, the organization that sponsors the annual Coupe Mondiale. Bouvier won the CIA Virtuoso Entertainment Competition last year in Pontarlier, France and has been featured on many radio and TV shows. The excellence displayed at this competition made it extremely close. The scores of the three top contenders were separated by less than one point. The overall performance quality of all competitors was so impressive that the contest benefactor, Steve Stolaruk, announced additional prize money, to give each of the other contestants a token prize of $250.

Left to right: Georgiy Shakhnevich, EvAnn Dahl Hawley, Michal Vigneau, Jerome Richard, Philippe Bouvier, Julien Labro, Brian Hubrich, Anthony Falco, Sammy Thomas, Vitaliy Pirog, Joseph Tirpak, Anthony Rolando, Alexander Poeluev, Serge Osokin, Gregory Faihnshtein, Alexander Sevastian. Missing from photo: Benjamin Lang, Peter Martin and Marcin Wyrostek.

All contestants also received the American Accordionists’ Association participation plaque which was distributed by President Linda Soley Reed. Mr. Stolaruk conceived the 2005 Vivian Vivio Stolaruk Memorial Competition in divine remembrance of his late wife, as part of the couple’s ongoing effort to promote the multifaceted music of the accordion and to maximize public enjoyment of this unique instrument. Stolaruk, in collaboration with the American Accordionists’ Association, supports efforts to reinforce and expand the positive image of the accordion and to encourage young people to explore accordion music

The Stolaruks, both Steve and Vivian posthumously, received the coveted CIA “Honored Friends of the Accordion” awards for their generous support of such accordion activities. At the conclusion of the Competition, the large audience gave Mr. Stolaruk a moving five-minute standing ovation in appreciation of his generosity and dedication to the accordion community. Maddalena Belfiore and Faithe Deffner chaired the 2005 Vivian Vivio Stolaruk Memorial Competition and CIA President Kevin Friedrich was the Master of Ceremonies.

A distinguished panel of musicians judged the 10-hour long competition. Left to right, they are Louis Coppola, who was the first contestant to represent the USA at the Coupe Mondiale World Accordion Championships in 1955 in Brighton, Great Britain; Dick Contino, accordion showman who regularly performs from Las Vegas to Atlantic City and headlines shows at many fairs and festivals throughout America; Jeff Lisenby, USA representative at the Coupes Mondiale in 1974 (Stockholm) and 1977 (Eindhoven, Netherlands), who is a Nashville recording accordionist acclaimed for cutting-edge music as well as symphony orchestra appearances; Michal Shapiro, currently involved with music programming for Link TV, she is noted for the three-CD compilation “Planet Squeezebox; Accordion Music from Around the World” which won the German Critic’s Circle Award as well as an AAA citation; Dave Westerskov, a performer and music educator who is responsible for auditioning, casting and! booking all live show talent for Walt Disney World Resort, the Disney Cruise Line and Tokyo Disney Resort.

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