The international Accordion Meeting entitled “Scenarios and Strategies for the Future of the Accordion” took place in Castelfidardo on September 20th, during the International Accordion Festival and Award and the celebrations for the 150* Anniversary of the Italian Accordion Industry”.
The cooperation between the members of an expert panel coordinated by Claudio Jacomucci, formed by the most renowned accordionists, professors, and young progressive musicians, gave birth to a very interesting paper entitled “Accordion Modern Perspectives”. A series of articles and interviews on various issues of the current situation of the classical accordion provides an overview of professional and artistic perspectives and highlights the strategies of emancipation of young musicians in the “real” world of music and calls into question the role of competitions, accordion festivals and organizations.
These are the articles contained in the book:
FRODE HALTLI The accordionist in the 21st century / VINCENT LHERMET European cooperation / PASCAL CONTET Choosing the accordion in 2013 / VELI KUJALA Quarter tone accordion / GEIR DRAUGSVOLL Perspectives on accordion pedagogics on academic level / MILOS MILIVOJEVIC Development of the classical accordion in United Kingdom / CLAUDIO JACOMUCCI Developing awareness, improving the cultural condition / SERGEJ TCHIRKOV Discovering traditions: integrating the contemporary accordion education in the world of New Music / KLAUDIUSZ BARANThe position of the accordion in Polish musical culture “yesterday and today” / LUCA PIOVESAN One possible way for accordion / XIAOQUING CAO Classical Accordion in China / PAULO FERREIRA Connection between accordion and the real music scene / GORKA HERMOSA Rediscovering the 19th Century repertoire for free reeds keyboard instruments /BJARKE MOGENSEN – RASMUS KJOLLER Mythos Accordion Duo / MACIEJ FRACKIEWICZ New Polish literature for accordion and cello / PAOLO PICCHIO My ideal competition: the accordion surrounded by arts / MASSIMILIANO PITOCCO Pedagogics, competitions and perspectives / RAIMONDAS SIACKEVICIUS Lithuanian Accordion Developments / KRASSIMIR STEREV The instrument that does not age / HARALD OELER At Viera Janárceková’s / MARKO KASSL Duo Mares / INAKI ALBERDI Composing for accordion
A long constructive discussion started from the highlights, the main points emerged from the paper.
The first point was about the importance of updating the catalogue of the original repertoire.
The original literature for accordion has literally exploded, hundreds of pieces by established composers (solo works, chamber music, concertos, etc..) are programmed each year in important festivals and concert seasons creating innovative and original projects. The collaboration between composers and performers is what most of all contributed to the diffusion of the classical accordion and its recognition on a professional academic scene.
However, the repertoires of many accordionists, the programs of the conservatives and academies, as well as those of the accordion competitions, do not consider the recent developments. Their programs are anachronistic and limited. This is undoubtedly due to the lack of updated documentation (very difficult to accomplish, but Lehrmet Vincent, PhD student at the Superior Conservatory in Paris, is already working on it), and it also and especially due to the inability of students and teachers to identify and select the most significant works, those compositions that properly uses the potential of the instrument.
The choice of an insignificant and virtuosic repertoire, easy-effect works with very little musical and artistic interest, contributes to isolate and alienate accordionists from the professional scene, from the “real” world of music and confines them in a small universe of closed-circuit associations and confederations, club of fanatics or amateurs who have nothing to do with art, music and culture.
This danger is then enclosed in the traditional accordion organizations who have a very old-fashioned vision of the instrument, they are disconnected from the other musical organizations and from reality, they do not support nor promote the professional career of the students.
The prizes of international awards are inconsistent: cups, trophies and cash prizes cannot help in the future of young musicians.
There is a growing number of accordionists who participate in open competitions, for all instruments, chamber music or contemporary music contests, calls for projects, applications for project funding, grants.
The accordion competitions still create an important social cohesion, but to survive, they must improve, update and renew themselves.
Much attention should be payed on the competence of juries; competitors (especially in international contests) deserve to be judged by highly qualified musicians, with extensive experience performing and teaching. In addition, the jury boards should be formed not only by accordionists but also by a minority of composers, musicians, musicologists and critics. There should be more space for the ensemble music and different styles in addition to traditional “classic” and “Varieté”. The awards should consist of concert tours (but not in accordion festivals!), CD productions, scholarships for masters, magazine reviews (not only the accordion ones!), etc.
To achieve these result it’s not enough changing the rules of a competition.
It is a very important education issue.
Now that the accordion is taught in most conservatories, academies, the pedagogical preparation of teachers is fundamental.
A greater responsibility is necessary: students must have the knowledge, the educational tools and the proper experience to be able to teach, not just knowing how to play an instrument.
It was also said that the Conservatories, because of their anachronism, do not necessarily prepare students to the existing jobs on the market.
A greater knowledge and practice of diverse musical languages from childhood is then desirable (classical, contemporary, jazz, ethnic, improvisation, etc..). There is also the urgent need to integrate innovative methodologies (such as Suzuki, Alexander Technique, etc.). and to give more space to the exchange between the “schools”, not only offering masterclass but to establish contacts for a lasting and constant exchange between schools. Geir Draugsvoll described the possibility of “Distant Learning” a system that uses advanced audio-video technology, already present in many academies (such as Copenhagen, Helsinki, Vilnius, Beijing) whose quality and purpose are very different from the popular initiatives on the web or Skype.
More than any institutional initiative, in order to create new perspectives we need to develop awareness, to elevate the cultural condition and encourage creativity.
The ability to observe our environment, the self-critical sense, the curiosity in every form of art is what stimulates us and makes us grow as artists. We can no longer rely on past models, the romantic figure of super virtuoso soloist is – even for the accordion – a phenomenon that reached its end.
We really need to look “futher”, “beyond”, being more creative, creating projects, collaborations both as performers and as creators, with other musicians, artists and new media.
This is what emerged during the International Accordion Meeting in Castelfidardo which relators were:
Iñaki Alberdi [SPAIN, Musikene, Higher School of Music of the Basque Country, San Sebastian / Higher School of Music of Catalonia, Barcelona]
Klaudiusz Baran [POLONIA, Fryderyk Chopin University, Varsavia]
Xiaoqing Cao [CINA, Central Conservatory of Music, Pechino]
Pascal Contet [FRANCIA, Académie Supérieure de Musique, Strasburgo]
Geir Draugsvoll [DANIMARCA, Royal Danish Academy of Music, Copenhagen]
Paulo Jorge Ferreira [PORTOGALLO, Applied Arts Superior School, Castelo Branco / Conservatory di Lisbona]
Maciej Frackiewicz [POLONIA]
Gorka Hermosa [SPAGNA, Conservatorio di Santander]
Claudio Jacomucci [ITALIA, Conservatorio “L.D’Annunzio”, Pescara / Accademia Fisarmonicistica]
Rasmus Kjoller [DANIMARCA, Royal Danish Academy of Music, Copenhagen]
Bjarke Mogensen [DANIMARcA, Royal Danish Academy of Music, Copenhagen]
Paolo Picchio [ITALIA, Direttore Artistico del Premio “Città di Castelfidardo”]
Luca Piovesan [ITALIA]
Massimiliano Pitocco [ITALIA, Conservatorio “S.Cecilia”, Roma]
Raimondas Sviackevicius [LITUANIA, Lithuanian Academy of Music, Vilnius]
The atmosphere of cooperation established among the members of the panel has outlined an important initiative that will be carried out in the coming months:
a critical selection of works from the concert repertoire (and the pedagogic one) from 1990 to the present day, a project that will enhance and actualize the original literature for a instrument that has had and is having a period of the most prosperous in the history of modern musical instruments.
This article is available also in: Italian