Putting the squeeze on classical tunes

Accordion parade helps promote Sixth International Victoria Accordion Festival

Toronto-based Quartetto Gelato will be playing July 21 at St. Andrew's Church as a part of the Sixth International Victoria Accordion Festival running from July 19 to 22.

What makes a loud noise when you squeeze it and loves a good bellow? No, it’s not the beginning of a bad joke. It’s an accordion.

From July 19 to 22 the Sixth International Victoria Accordion Festival will be taking place around town and hosting some of the top accordion acts in the world.

Friday night is Russian night and will feature a concert by world-famous accordionist Alexander Sevastian, from Minsk, Belarus, at St. Andrew’s Church (680 Courtney St.). Sevastian has won four international accordion competitions and played with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

On the Saturday night, Toronto-based Quartetto Gelato will be performing at St. Andrew’s. The group, which features Sevastian on accordion, is a crowd favourite. On oboe, violin, cello and, of course, accordion, along with tenor vocals, the quartet serves up a variety of world and classical music styles.

“They are so famous and so popular, particularly in this city,” festival director Aleksandar Milojevic said. “We’re sure people will appreciate their concert.”

Another highlight is the Accordion Parade, a first-time event for the festival. The parade kicks off from Market Square at 1 p.m. on the Saturday and will see squeezebox players coming together to play and parade through downtown to Centennial Square and back.

“Just imagine if you have many orchestras together, that’s the sound that you get,” Milojevic said.

All accordion players are invited to take part in the parade, but are asked to arrive at noon to prepare.

Most exciting for organizers is that this year’s festival is a precursor of sorts to what will prove to be the big event in 2013.

The success of the festival over the past five years was one contributing factor to Victoria being named host of the 66th Coupe Mondiale event in 2013. This will be the first time that the world’s biggest accordion event has been held in Canada and it will run from Aug. 17 to 25. Hundreds of accordionists and even more visitors from all over the world are expected to attend the event, which takes place in a different country every year.

“People are so happy,” Milojevic said. “So that means that we’re doing something good here in Victoria.”

For Milojevic one of the best parts of the festival is seeing the younger players getting involved and falling in love with the instrument, and seeing accordions begin to regain a popularity they haven’t enjoyed since the rise of rock and roll.

“Accordions became a not very cool instrument with all the electric guitars and drums and everything that youngsters could express themselves differently with. But now it’s picking up again,” Milojevic said. “We have kids seven years old or eight years old competing, which is amazing and you don’t see everyday, everywhere.”

Tickets for the Sevastian and Quartetto Gelato concerts are $25, $20 for seniors and students. The workshop is $25 per person or $30 at the door. Tickets are available at Tempo Trend Music and Long and McQuade, by phone at 778-433-8700 or by email at contact@bcaccordion.ca.

For a full schedule go to bcaccordion.ca


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