The 30th edition of the Carrefour mondial de l’accordéon de Montmagny has been officially inaugurated. The well established event from the Chaudière Appalaches region of northern Quebec presents every year some of the best accordion players from different corners around the world.
On opening night, Aug. 31, a full house was treated to a buffet of multi-ethnic sounds. Filippo Gambetta and Andrea Di Giacomo from Italy, Roman Jbanov and Alexei Brioukov from Russia, Emily Stam from Canada, Antonio Rivas, Daniel Ochoa and Jairo Gomez from Colombia, Gary Blair and Robin Hyland from Scotland, and Sylvie Pullès and Maxime Cayron from France. Quebec was represented by young local talents in Alexandre B. Caron, Élizabeth and Virginie Nicol.
The performances were compressed to a maximum of 20 minutes per artist. The dynamic duo of composer and accordionist Gambetta and pianist and violinist Stam were in charge of opening the evening. They presented an amalgamation of traditional Italian music with shades of Celtic and Balkan influences. Their most memorable number was their last one; a tarantella (a piece of music originating in Italy, typically in 6/8 and intended to accompany the tarantella dance) with a modern twist. We could hear some jazz and even contemporary pop influences.
The veteran duo of accordionist Gary Blair and Robin Hyland followed. They infused musical virtuosity into the folk Scottish repertoire. Furthermore, Blair utilised a very uncommon procedure during the performance. He has installed a midi device in his accordion that allows him to play the bass, drums and piano simultaneously while playing the fastest arpeggios and licks on his piano accordion with his other hand.
Well into the evening came the Colombian music trio of parces formed by Antonio Rivas in the Diatonic accordion, Daniel Ochoa in the Caja Vallenata (a small tambour made with goat skin) and the Guacharaca or Guiro (a percussion instrument typically present in the Cumbia style of music) and Jairo Gomez in the bass. They were the most exotic ensemble of the night, interpreting a Paseo, a Vallenato and a Cumbia. All styles that can be naturally heard in the South American nation.
The highlight of the night was the solo performance given by accordionist Andrea Di Giacomo. The 22 years old prodigy and winner of the category “Virtuoso Entertainment” at the 70th Coupe Mondiale World Accordion Championships left the audience speechless. He demonstrated technical prowess and full mastery of his instrument. He played a custom made Paolo Soprani French style accordion which stood out in terms of timbre. He explained that this type of accordion had a more compact sonority than the average counterparts.
Another highlight was the Slavic duo of Roman Jbanov on the accordion and Alexei Biriouko on the Balalaika; a small 3 strings instrument with a triangular shape used frequently in Russian folk music. It’s timbre sounds like the result of mixing a mandolin and a banjo. In this duo the Balalaika took the leading melodic role while the accordion served to accompany and sometimes adorn the melody. They performed a balanced program that blended folk and classical Russian music.
The Carrefour activities will carry on throughout the weekend and Monday morning, offering an array of events related to the fascinating world of the accordion. They offer Masterclasses, outdoor and indoor concert and remarkably have a Museum of the accordion. The festival also provides a great opportunity to connect with Quebec’s music tradition and to discover the beautiful outdoors that the Chaudière Appalaches region has to offer.
Until Sept. 3, 2018. www.accordeonmontmagny.com