Anytime a person has a chance to hear music and see dance performed at the highest level, it’s an opportunity worth taking.
In just a few short years, the World Accordion and Tango Festival has created an event that brings together top internationally recognized accordionists and tango musicians and dancers, along with local talents whose music is a perfect fit for the festival.
Call it a niche if you wish, but there’s no disputing the quality of the entertainment package on offer Nov. 7-11 at venues around Victoria and Vancouver. Organizer Aleks Milojevic proudly states this event has become the largest off-season (non-summer) international music festival in B.C., and the biggest in Western Canada that specifically focuses on the arts of accordion and tango music at the highest levels.
“We are hosting amazing performers from all over the world that will thrill your senses in [performances], workshops, presentations and shows of different character across the city,” he said.
|Harpist Anna Maria Mendieta leads Tango del Cielo in a special multimedia performance Nov. 8 at the Dave Dunnet Theatre in Oak Bay during the World Accordion and Tango Festival. The show features Argentine tango experts Sandra Naccache and Jorge Lopez, and internationally recognized accordionist Jelena Milojevic from Victoria. Photo courtesy Anna Maria Mendieta|
While there is a fascinating cross-section of events planned, Milojevic expects the Nov. 8 multimedia music and Argentine tango performance by renowned group Tango Del Cielo at the Dave Dunnet Theatre in Oak Bay to be a particular highlight.
The group, founded 13 years ago by acclaimed harpist Anna Maria Mendieta, has been helping to redefine Argentine tango since, mixing the best of tango and flamenco with classical, jazz and swing styles, accompanying exhilarating dancers.
“This is a special group and a special program and we’re really excited to be performing for the festival,” Mendieta said in an interview from her home in Los Angeles.
She said she has always loved playing Spanish music on the harp, but was told long ago by traditionalists, “you can’t play tango music on the harp.” That was motivation to create her own arrangements of compositions by Argentine tango and bandoneon player Astor Piazzolla – the father of Nuevo Tango – and others. Mendieta became a pioneer among harpists for playing tango music.
“Spanish flamenco music is fiery and very outwardly dramatic, whereas tango is very inward and moody and dark. But the two complement each other wonderfully, especially when you also have Latin jazz and Spanish classical influences,” she said.
The two elements of the festival will combine at the Nov. 8 show, when internationally acclaimed classical accordionist Jelena Milojevic (Alek’s wife) will perform Piazzolla’s “Oblivion.” Dancing to the Tango Del Cielo vibe will be Buenos Aires-based tango maestros Sandra Naccache and Jorge Lopez, who dance and teach the Argentine tango professionally around the world.
The range of artists performing at the festival is diverse, from Finland-based folk duo Vilda to the virtuosic and witty accordion pair of Duo Paris-Moscou to the piano-bandoneon duo of Mariano Barreiro and Charles Gorczynski.
|The award-winning members of Duo Paris-Moscou, Domi Emorine and Roman Jbanov, have performed all over the world and bring their considerable talents to Victoria for the World Accordion and Tango Festival. Duo Paris-Moscou play Nov. 10 at the Victoria Event Centre. Duo Paris Moscou/Facebook|
Among the accomplished local artists on the schedule – and all incorporate accordion music in some form – are Daniel Lapp and Adrian Dolan, Bucan Bucan, Bijoux du Bayou, the Victoria Accordion Ensemble and Mary Ross-Klektau.
The festival is intended to be inclusive, with modest ticket prices for evening events and free admission for others, including accordion lessons Nov. 7 at Tempo Trend given by Milojevic and Ross-Klektau, and accordion performances Nov. 9 at the Victoria Edelweiss Club (noon-4 p.m.).
The pre-festival introduction to tango lessons at Solwood Studio on Nov. 6 (6:15 p.m.) are also free. Later that night at the Victoria Event Centre, the Festival Warm-up/Eastern European Dance Party features Bucan Bucan plus Lightning Hora and the Midnight Machine.
For tickets and more information on the festival, visit watf.ca or drop by Tempo Trend or Long & McQuade Music.