Jubilee XX Accordion Festival VILNIUS 2017 – already on its way



This year will be the 20th time that the autumnal Vilnius musical skies will be tinged by the glow of accordion sounds. This jubilee accordion festival, which has been taking place in Lithuania since 1986, will celebrate its anniversary with eleven exclusive November concerts and will host musical meetings with legendary stage masters as well as younger talents.

The opening of the festival is scheduled for November 10th at the Church of St Catherine with a charming accordion fairy from Finland, Johanna Juhola. Like her compatriot Kimmo Pohjonen, who a couple of years ago staged one of the most memorable concerts in the history of the festival, Johanna expresses her creative ideas not only by way of diversely processed accordion sounds but also through surrealist images, which she calls her imaginary friends. Her creative imagination merges into an organic sound together with Argentine and Finnish tango, the aesthetics of pop music, Nordic melancholy and spellbinding imagery. This performer’s charisma has already been appreciated by a huge European audience – in 2007, with the piece Fantasiatango, she was entrusted to open up the Eurovision Song Content in Helsinki. Johanna Juhola is an inspiring example of how even the most daredevil ideas, if implemented boldly, can reach huge audiences.

On November 11th, the Great Hall at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre will host a performance by Bartosz Kolsut, one of the young leaders of contemporary Polish accordion music. Performing solo, he will appear in two roles – as a performer of academic music and as a representative of the entertainment genre, and he will use different styles by deploying two different instruments.

Those who long for the romantic sighs of tango will be delighted with the wonderful programme Mare Calmo (Calm Sea). On November 14th, at the Church of St Catherine, it will be performed by an inspirational duet from Italy – bandoneon player Daniele di Bonaventura and pianist Giovanni Cessarelli. These musicians’ authorial compositions are permeated with emotional melodies, passion and lyrics – what’s known as the essence of tango. Yet they overstep the line drawn by the famous tango revolutionary Piazzolla and create a kind of non‑cosmopolitan tango; their music is fused with Italianess. The stinging feelings of tango are expressed not so much by fierce rhythms as by tuneful melody. Wandering across the scenes of the most famous jazz festivals and performing together with the stars, Daniele di Bonaventura is distinguished namely by the tuneful sound of his bandoneon. It’s hard to imagine who could better convey the vibrations of the soul of a person who is staring at the sea...

Meanwhile, on November 16th, the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre’s Great Hall will host something really cosmopolitan – a virtual and live Vilnius-Copenhagen-Helsinki concert, arranged together with the academy’s Music Innovation Studies Centre, the Royal Danish Academy of Music and Helsinki Sibelius Music Academy. The concert will pulsate with topical accordion music, which not for the first time will build musical bridges between Lithuanian and international higher music schools.

The ideas of contemporary accordion music will also materialise at a November 19th concert at the Vytautas Kasiulis Museum, where two of the most distinctive performers of the younger generation will play, Tadas Motiečius and Agnė Dūkštaitė. It seems that the spirit of artistic quests by one of Lithuania’s most interesting painters, Vytautas Kasiulis, blends perfectly with the discoveries of accordion music, as for several years accordion concerts have been held here among his exhibited canvases, attracting quite a crowd of listeners.

The name Paris, the city where Vytautas Kasiulis triumphed, will be pronounced more than once at a November 20th concert at the Town Hall (Rotušė). Two musicians from the French capital will reveal the treasures of their own musical quests. Accordionist Jean Louis Matinier and guitarist Kevin Saddiki have performed joint and separate concerts with World Jazz projects at a variety of world festivals, so their performance in Vilnius should offer a grand bouquet of rhythms, accords and moods from the world’s most exotic corners. And although their programme is thoroughly arranged, the performers are not lacking in spontaneity – every time, their performances are electrified with the excitement of surprise, as if having met for the first time to play music together on a bridge over the Seine. The guitarist’s impressive list of travel itineraries suggests that his instrument will speak not merely with the sound of a guitar.

On November 21st, at the Church of St Catherine, we will hear another duet playing spontaneous music, this time from Italy. Back on the Lithuanian stage after a break of several years, Italian jazz grandee Luciano Biondini together with trumpeter Fabrizio Bosso will play Italian improvisational music seasoned with Mediterranean spices, collectively solving some jazz standards’ intriguing puzzles. Accordionist Biondini’s musical style is already known to the Lithuanian public, whereas the biography of creative works of one of the world’s most versatile jazz trumpeters is worth a separate mention. The name Fabrizio Bosso glows brightly on jazz concert posters and brightens up the work of performers of such superstars as Zucchero at the Sanremo Music Festival. The programme of the concert in Vilnius rests on pieces of work included into the duet's album Face to Face.

On November 22nd, the Great Hall of the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre will be shaken by the premieres of new pieces performed by the ensemble ContemporACCO and the students at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre’s Department of Contemporary Music. It will be a naturally charged event, since it will be the oeuvre of young people that will be played by young people. Hence, new will be merged with old, the known with the unknown, and these opposites tend to produce a strong explosive mix! Listeners who are fond of novelties will have something to discover, guaranteed by ContemporACCO leader Raimondas Sviackevičius, who also holds the helm of this festival in his hands. Following this students’ spree, the action will then move to the club Tamsta, where musical escapades will resound from an innovative accordionist from Poland, Buttonhacker. This flamboyant youngster plunges the sounds of its instrument into club aesthetics, employing a loop station and diverse effects.

The triumph of solidity at the 20th International Accordion Festival is going to be a recital by legendary German accordionist Stefan Hussong at the Organum Concert Hall on November 23rd. Critics assert that Hussong is the finest interpreter of JS Bach from the times of Glenn Gould and plays everything in such a manner that his accordion may well be deemed the most inspiring and viral instrument in the world. He will stage a performance in Vilnius en route to his tour in Beijing, so his programme may well be brimming with Oriental elements. He will perform samples of music from the oeuvre of John Cage and the 10th-century traditional Japanese music Gagaku, as well as Stravinsky and contemporary composers.

The festival will close at the Church of St Catherine on November 24th with a quartet from Sweden playing rock, folk and other more indescribable things – the Lars Karlsson Band. Around now for 20 years, the band has successfully and more than once hit the summits of the Swedish charts, and the most amazing thing is that nobody’s singing, the principal voice being... a diatonic accordion, the melodies of which can make even a stone sing along. Before that, no instrumental music had ever managed to cross over onto Swedish radio. The composer of most of the band’s pieces is Lars Karlsson, and at the concert in Vilnius the band will play music from their newest album that marks the band’s 20th anniversary.

The XX International Accordion Festival Vilnius 2017: Let's probe deeper and dive into the pleasures of listening!

All information about the event can be found here

Looking forward to seeing you at the concerts of the XX International Accordion Festival!

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