The Russian accordionist Alexander Selivanov is a musician appreciated all over the world; has achieved important goals as a soloist and in duo with Yulia Americova. Today is a teacher who is attentive to the emotions as well as the technique, a performer appreciated that in this interview reveals important impressions about his work and his projects. Dedication to teaching music and publishing the work, from research and experimentation to collaborations with major players in the world of music and institutional scenario Russian.
When did your start and why playing accordion?
I started to play accordion (button accordion – bayan) at the age of 7th. It was not my own wish, some circumstances. New musical school opened close to our home and mother decided I have to study music, it was very popular in soviet past, then children had extra musical education and button accordion was one of most favorite instruments.
My grandfather, big fun of russian accordion and harmonica, played harmonica in the past. He said I have to choose an accordion, and when I entered to school, he presented me my first instrument.
Could you talk us about cultural perception of the accordion in your country?
Generally in minds of people in Russia there are two different instruments:
“Bayan” – russian folk instrument, button accordion, instrument of Russian traditional music; it happened during Soviet time, when button accordion “Bayan” was extremely popular before, during and after Second World War, as an instrument of Russian and Soviet people soul, instrument of folk songs and dances. Ryssuan button accordion never had “tremolo” or “musette” tuning, only clear powerful sound.
Piano accordion which is only instrument cold “accordion” in Russia, most of the people connect piano accordion with Western music and culture.
For example, piano accordionists, not “bayanists” usually play French music, musettes, polkas, accompany French chanson.
Speaking about classical music stage, generally, accordion is still outside of classical instruments family. Contemporary composers write music with accordion part, contemporary music ensemble invites to play, but most of classical musicians still thinks about accordion like “russian folk only” – for bayan, or “light style only” – about piano accordion.
Do you think there is a future for your instrument in the electronic development? Do this development open new prospectives or is to consider an application that affects only some of the music for accordion?
Electronic accordion thanks to Roland made some new step of its popularity. I think will be some ways of using it. I think it can be often used on pop stage, together with other electronic instruments. Electronics can help a lot for accordion entertainers. I’ll be happy if accordionists everywhere will study electronic accordion in their musical school, it make them more professional and let their concert activities grow. I have electronic accoridon classes in primary musical school, in college and university. Students learn it, as a part of their profession.
Electronic accordion is a good toy. I think amateurs will use it very much, especially if it will be not so expensive. And I hope electronic accordion as a part of accordion education can attract more new pupils in our school.
How the work in teaching enriches the experience as a musician?
Teaching help me to grow as musician, with my students I can get sum of musical experience I never had while only playing.
First of all I have to now exactly what I want to get from musical piece. It is just a joke, but part of it is true: “I tried to explain you so hard that I even understand it myself finally”.
Most of musicians can easily understand when performance one musician better then another. Different thing is what should do to play better.
If I listen student and i can find what is wrong, If I can explain what is exactly wrong, then If I can suggest to student some musical or technical task to solve problems and get satisfied level of performance, it means that I can use it also in my own performance and practicing. My students always like my assistances in the field of experiments with musical performance. Basic musical things are always the same, but big part of teaching is always an individual experiment. And if I have no time to experiment with myself I can do with my students.
What is the project you’re working on?
For the moment i’m involved as director in organizing of international accordion competition happened in 2014 March 19-21 in Moscow. It is new project, not only for classical accordionists, but also light styles, electronics and all types of harmonicas, for participants different ages. For jury work I invited best accordion players and teachers of young generation from Russia and other countries.
In the same time I’m working on new method for Roland V-Accordion, with group of players we would like to have kind of exercise book which help accordionists easily learn possibilities of electronic accordion.
Third thing. One of interesting projects I’m working on is review about accordion industry in Russian and abroad, specially requested by just organized professional society of Russian national instruments. This new organization supported by Russian government and has important task to describe situation with whole culture of Russian folk instruments including accordion, describe problems, wishes and ways how to safe, support and develop this part of musical culture with its unique national treasure. We all hope that official collaboration thorough professional society it help to attract attention of most important and powerful persons in Russian government and business elite.
This article is available also in: Italian