CASTELFIDARDO (AN) – Needless to deny the charm that you feel going into the laboratory, modern term, that one time would have said the handcraft laboratory, the Alessandrini Accordions. We are located in the populous district Fornaci just on the outskirts of Castelfidardo. You get in via Verdi, 83 along a vicious route. Anyway the lane-way downhill would not allow other paths.
Already outside the large windows allow you to perceive the gestures of those who work there. Tonino Alessandrini welcomes me; he and his sister Daniela are the second generation of this brand.
The company was, in fact, created in 1952 by the power of their uncle Genuino. His brother Alfredo, recently retired, but he doesn’t still disdain tips, then a young worker at the “Paolo Soprani”, learned the trade working in the morning in the big enterprise and on the evening helping his brother. This went on for a few years. Then in the 60’s he decided to devote himself exclusively to the family business, giving birth in 1970 to the “Fratelli Alessandrini Accordions”.
In all these years they have been realized many accordions and diatonic accordions, but on one thing Tonino is intransigent.
“The quality of our products has remained extremely high, despite the 32 models that appear in our catalogue. Perhaps an exaggeration to an artisan family business that lives on the availability of two workers and some external collaboration. But we always wanted to live up to market demands”.
Where do you exported your instruments more and what are the most popular products?
“In the last few years there has been a boom for classic accordions, those for concert performance, but it also ranges in diatonic. The countries? United States, Mexico for the diatonic, Norway, Scotland, Germany, all over Europe, Belgium on all. There we have undertaken some years ago in collaboration with Maestro Olivier Douez accordion teacher at the Conservatory of Mons. Furthermore, we do not just talking about production, but also of lessons … ”
“Three or four times a year we go to Mons to hold practical lessons to students attending the Conservatory. We give them the opportunity to learn the phases of construction of the instrument, thus including the repair, the latter aspect that for buyers abroad can be a problem. So we reveal all of our “secrets”. It is also a good time to repair or retune the accordions. Practically, we bring our lab around the world, waiting for a few young who wants to be formed and can learn this profession”.
This is the problem of ever even in Italy: training young people to take over who is gone or about to retire, above all the tuners, endangered specialties.
“Yes, but it is failing. Today, despite the training courses organized by the Marche Region, with the support of industry associations, they will fail to find young people interested and lovers of this craft. In many they try, it is true, but then almost always give up because they say it’s too tiring. Yet it is a job that has a future and can give great satisfaction.
“The accordion is an instrument that we need assistance all the time. I had the idea of organizing Belgium a small permanent laboratory to avoid bringing every time the tools from Italy. When there will be 10/15 instruments to fix I will move on site for a few days in order to carry out the work there. So it will give an answer to those who ask for such assistance”.
You have lived since childhood days on the laboratory having upstairs your apartment. It may have been a sacrifice, but also an added value?
“I think I can say that what we were doing there as a game at the end did we love what we do today. So much so that we can know all the processing stages that then there were made all internally. So today we have the expertise to build an instrument in every detail. We produce an average of 4-5 accordions per month. We know the whole working process. My sister likes the dubbing and waxing of the reeds. We also have external employees who give us a hand, but then everything goes under our supervision to control the final product”.
From your productions emergebutton instruments up at 96 or 120 bass with or without cassotto, or the Bajan for Conservatory. All strictly produced in pure artisan level. You still receive request to customize the instrument?
“It is hard to think there is one who chooses sight unseen. We are, of course, talking about the accordion at the highest levels, in short, of those who make the instrument a matter of life or our job. It calls for action not only aesthetic but also about the sound. Given that we always try to give a well-finished instrument, in this case its delivery can also be extended by a few months compared to normal. But who asks these types of projects is well content to wait”.
Today the market has changed. The exhibitions, once important moment for the sales, is definitely overcome by new technologies. Are you agree?
“It’s true. Of all them, Internet allowed the customer to update in real time. This also allows cost savings and the ability to answer quickly. On Facebook, for example, I also added mini technique lessons, which are consulted forever. They have many views. Sign of the changing times. We can also quickly to talk / see each other all over the world”.
In the small laboratory under the house, who arrives, can still captures the flavour of the ancient gestures. From manual skills to a variety of tools. It seems to see almost a part of the small workshop in the museum that far more instruments to enhance this. Yet here you are thinking of trying to larger spaces. But how to break away from a piece of history? So here we go along without hesitation. Essentially in these areas seems to live a continuous refrein. First the father, then the son. Tomorrow, who knows. Maybe a grandson to give continuity to a painstaking job that is handed down from generation to generation. And then maybe close but on like this, where you can still feel the ancient air of modernity. Contradiction? Seeing is believing.
This article is available also in: Italian