Aleksander Ipavec graduated in accordion at the Conservatory “A. Stefani” in Castelfranco Veneto. He teaches accordion at the Matica Glasbena of San Pietro al Natisone and Gorizia. He has participated in various national and international competitions and performed with several different groups (including the Mitteleuropa Salon Orkester, conducted by Daniele Zanettovich, and The original Klezmer ensemble). He has composed soundtracks for documentaries and short films, music for theater and participated in television programs. He has had a fruitful collaboration with the pianist Paola Chiabudini, with which has carried out a project on the music of Astor Piazzolla and today has undertaken work on the music of contemporary authors. Ipavec is part of the trio Etnoploč, which this year celebrates ten years of activity.
What does it mean today to play an instrument like the accordion?
I always felt like a person against the current. I’ve never felt the need of having to take a musical path already trodden by many. When I was a boy, playing the accordion meant (at least in the environment around me) to be a little limited exclusively to live with the music of villages or festivals, out of which there were plenty of opportunities to express themselves with the accordion.
Later, when I started attending the first school of music, to participate in the first contest, I discovered another world, or one where , if you had a tool free bass, you could keep a certain kind of study. Otherwise remained like a “minor” student.
My parents have struggled to be able to buy an instrument with single notes in the left hand. In front of me has opened up a new world, where the performance possibilities on the instrument multiplied.
I thought that finally the accordion could run any kind of music, but the programs of study were offered limited me to the study of certain historical periods, mainly the Baroque and contemporary. But I felt the need to try other styles and listen to everything I could find, from classical to jazz and ethnic music of many different peoples, falling in love especially the music of Eastern Europe, where rhythms and harmonies were instilled in me new emotions.
So just graduated from the conservatory I started to look for that music, which made me feel free and completed in the gaps that I felt.
Today I can say that playing the accordion for me is to feel free to travel to worlds musically very different and far from each other and try to merge them into a unique music without boundaries.
Can you tell us how your passion came and how over the years you have dealt with studying the accordion?
I started playing the accordion thanks to my parents. At first it was not the instrument that I liked, the piano was the instrument that I wanted to study, but the accordion was the instrument that my grandfather played and then my mother, so this was an instrument in our house.
Thanks to them, today I can say to do what I love most, that is live in to the music.
From the first lesson to now, after 37 years, the accordion and his repertoire have evolved a lot.
In those days it was difficult to find the literature we have today. The distances have decreased, many walls have fallen. This has allowed us to know great accordionists from all over the world exchange between us our ideas and teaching methods. In the same way it has evolved also the instrument and its technical capabilities and sound.
How does the work in teaching enriches the experience and training of a musician?
I teach accordion since 1993. The first few years I taught in private schools. In ’96, I started to teach Glasbena Matica (Slovenian Music Centre), at the headquarters of San Pietro al Natisone (Ud), where I founded the orchestra Accordion group 4-8-8-16. With this orchestra have achieved good results in international competitions: the second prize at the European Grand Prix de l’accordeon in Prague and the first prize at the FIF of Castelfidardo in 2008.
In 2009 I became Professor of Accordion at the Glasbena Šola Tolmin (Slovenia). Teaching has always had an important role in my musical journey, but I always tried to extend the existing study programs, teaching the boys also ethnic music, improvisation and ensemble music, which I think is very important.
The accordion allows you to compare with many genres, but also to deal with experiences in the field of entertainment, composition, concerts…
All my various experiences are the result of a single matrix, which is the interest I feel for all music genres and forms of expression of the instrument.
The composition, writing new music, transcription for accordion represented perhaps the first need in addition to the mere execution.
My first experiences with the music scene instead go back to the years of high school, when I was contacted by the Teatro Stabile from Trieste to accompany a Slovenian actor in a monologue. Then over the years I also worked with the Politeama Rossetti in Trieste and other theaters in Slovenia.
The natural consequence was that the productions started to ask me to write the music for various theatrical performances. In 2001 I wrote the music for a documentary produced by RAI. Since then, many have followed, produced by RAI, TV Koper, ORF etc. In 1999-2000 I was part of a musical group with whom we played in “Circus”, the transmission of Rai Due conducted by Michele Santoro.
Beyond the work of composition are never missed the concerts and collaborations with many musicians, with whom I have always favored the human component to the artists. Today I can say that I work almost exclusively with great people, before with great musicians. Two examples are the duo with the pianist Paola Chiabudini, with which we collaborate since 2001, first in a project of music by Astor Piazzolla, then music by contemporary composers. Today we are immersed in a new project with two special tools, or portative by Leonardo da Vinci, built by Mario Buonoconto and Harpsichord.
The second group with whom I have worked for ten years is the Etnoploč trio.
All of these projects, which also include the orchestral conducting and organizing musical events, are part of a way I express myself and therefore their life together is natural. Sometimes the only real drawback is the lack of time to coordinate them all.
From classical to jazz to ethnic (think for example to The Original Klezmere Ensemble). What is the difference?
Each genre requires different ways of execution. Among my experiences, as well as classical music, jazz, there are many Balkan and klezmer influences. Each of these types has its own particular style, which differs from others by the rhythms, harmonies and playing techniques. It is not enough. In addition to these components, you should try to enter the soul of the music, the people, to understand the traditions, ways of thinking, traditions etc. Play, for example, the music of Astor Piazzolla, performing exactly everything that is written in the score is not enough. His acquaintance with the employees, the producer, the musicians who played with Piazzolla, helped me a lot to better interpret his music. With Bach, however, would be a much more daunting task…
Among the projects we need to mention the trio Etnoploc, which this year celebrates its tenth birthday…
The Etnoploč are formed by Piero Purini on soprano sax, Matej Špacapan on trumpet and myself on accordion.
A brand new team, formed by three border musicians (Italy/Slovenia), who, besides being great friends, they are united by not believing the border and try to shoot them down starting with those which concern them in the first person, that is, the boundaries that each of us has inside.
The name PLOC in Trieste dialect means puddle, in which the trio mixes all genres, cultures, (Trieste in history has had several), sometimes blending two or more songs in a new entity.
Over the years we have recorded four CDs. The last one, entitled Across the Border Live 2012 was dedicated to Andrea Parodi.
You mentioned a collaborative project with Andrea Parodi. Can you talk about? I had the good fortune to know him and to work with him for a short time and left me with a wonderful memory, not just professionally…
The meeting with Andrea Parodi will remain an unforgettable moment for me. In 2005, a well-known music critic of our region has advised me to get me absolutely a CD entitled “Midsummer Night in Sardinia” by Andrea Parodi and Al di Meola.
Just listened to the songs on that cd I could not resist, I tried to contact him to address all my admiration for those executions, attaching my cell phone number. After a few weeks I received a call from an unknown number and it was just Andrea Parodi. It was a great emotion. After a few minutes it seemed that we were already long-time friends. Andrea wanted to know all about the project Etnoploč. Some time later we met in Milan to discuss a collaborative project. Andrea, however, already was not feeling well and unfortunately he died the following year. In 2008 we were invited by Valentina, his wife, to Flumini Jazz Festival, dedicated to Andrea Parodi.
Andrea was very loved by all in his land. In Cagliari we met a warmth from the people that is very difficult to explain. That evening we performed Foua, one of the songs on the Parodi and Di Meola CD.
In 2012 we released our latest CD, in which we recorded No Potho reposare, that was also the last song Parodi sang in public in front of his city. Thanks Andrea!
This article is available also in: Italian