Accordion With A Big "A"
by Emilian Badea
Doctor of Musical Arts
Boston is one of those cities in which the musical arts have reached superlative levels in all genres. It is a city with an abundance of high quality musical performances. Let's remember some of the institutions involved: Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Lyric Opera, Boston Academy of Music, Handel and Haydn Society, New England Conservatory of Music, Boston Conservatory, Berklee College of Music, and many others. All of these are world standard quality institutions, with first class performers and teachers. And then there are many community music schools surrounding Boston, with thousands of enthusiastic youngsters "thirsty" to discover the inner beauties of the musical arts. Bostonians themselves are a highly knowledgeable and demanding audience.
In the midst of this wealth of musical activity, we were recently visited by one of the most brilliant musicians of our time. I do not use this term lightly. We were privileged to see and hear live one of the most exciting accordionists of our time. It is difficult to find the words to describe the impression the young French accordionist Jérémie Buirette, World Champion, in duet with his wife, the pianist Clémence, left here in the Boston area. The concert hall, generously provided by the New School of Music in Cambridge, (Pamela Curtis director), was packed with lucky "hand-picked" members in the audience, made up mostly by accordionists and aficionados, among them Frank Gaviani Jr, and Robert Paolo.
I have played many concerts in my life in a wide variety of musical genres. I have attended even more concerts performed by some great musical personalities. But what the audience and I heard on Sunday, February 1, was truly exceptional. We all know that the accordion is the most complex musical instrument and that it does not require an accompanist. Yet the Clémence and Jérémie Duo showed us a most refined dialogue between piano and accordion, each taking the leading role at times, and complementing each other with finesse in a perfect blend of sound colors. Their constant visual communication was a reassurance of the joy they spread in the audience. That gave us a sense of a perfect fusion of love and music! They really enjoy making music together.
Clémence and Jérémie had been invited to the United States by a private party for a concert in New York. I was already aware of Jérémie's almost mesmerizing musical personality, so as soon as I found out their schedule, a fire of desire ignited inside me. I said to myself "I have to bring them to Boston for a concert. It is a rare opportunity to offer my fellow Bostonians something they have not seen in a long time, or probably have never seen!" I prayed to Euterpe to help me, and she graciously granted me my wish.
Jérémie is a master of the accordion. He possesses a most brilliant right hand technique with 110 mile per hour fingers (no ticket yet!), and a creative and precise left hand. What makes Jeremie even more special is his masterful control of the bellows. I am sure that at home Jérémie spends most of his time (not practicing, but) filling up the accordion bellows with music, a lot of music, a lot of good music. Once he came here all he had to do was to open his accordion. And as soon as he did that, all that music hidden in the bellows came bursting out with joy and excitement! He had a lot of music hidden in there, and he so generously offered it to us. We understood immediately why he is a World Champion!
The Clémence and Jérémie Duo performed for us compositions by Vivaldi, Rossini, Brahms, Saint-Saëns, Khachaturian, Piazzolla, and much more. For this concert's grand finale, Jérémie offered us something that we were all craving: a medley of French Musette Waltzes. What a delight to the audience! That 130 year old genre sounded younger and fresher than ever, with scales and arpeggios running up and down at a delirious speed (no ticket again!), improvising on melodies so familiar to us. Among them were "Souvenir de Montmartre," "Le Retour des Hirondelles," "Reine de Musette," and my favorite "Flambée Montalbanaise." This concert could have not ended better. The audience erupted with euphoria and standing ovations several times during the concert.
After the concert Jérémie conducted a master-class with three of the students Robert Paolo nurtured in his studio in Johnston, RI. Anthony Falco, Lenore Del Ponte, and Anthony Federici, were the lucky students who received valuable instruction from Jérémie Buirette, Champion du Monde.
But all ended too soon. After the concert, some of my students went home and right away picked up the accordion and started practicing! What better motivation than that? I did the same. I hardly waited to finish dinner, and after that I played musette duets with Jérémie until late, late into the night.....electricity was running through me all this time.
The mere presence of Jérémie became contagious. He showed us that his musicianship encompasses all the qualities of a World Champion. He is a virtuoso of the highest caliber, and at the same time he is a gracious and eloquent shaper of melodic phrase. But what makes him even more special is his modesty, his humbleness, and his friendship. This makes him a true champion!
Not "just another accordion success story….."
By Enrico Romano
This year the Brockton Symphony Orchestra celebrates 60 years of music making. Throughout these years, the orchestra has been the main attraction for music lovers of the city of Brockton (Massachusetts) and the surrounding communities. The orchestra has performed with great success many works from the vast literature of the symphonic repertoire, including operas, symphonies, and concertos. Many great musicians, soloists, and conductors have started their careers as guests of the orchestra. Some of the current members have been performing with this orchestra for 45-50 years! One finds it hard to believe that music making has no limits of age or ability! The love for music has no borders.
This season the Brockton Symphony Orchestra again offered to their audience a special event, the traditional Holiday-Pops concert, which is the most popular performance of the year. But, what few members of the audience would ever know, is that the concert was almost cancelled. The orchestra was lacking the necessary resources for renting the concert hall, for hiring musicians, etc. That was when Emilian Badea, Doctor of Musical Arts, Accordionist, Bassoonist, Musicologist, and Conductor, stepped in and "crafted" a concert that would be a pleasure for performers and audience as well. He selected the pieces, invited the soloists, and conducted the orchestra. Few will ever forget this holiday concert, as the Brockton Symphony's performance opened everyone's soul to welcome the spirit of the season. Dr. Badea's enthusiasm was contagious, and those who attended were the beneficiaries. There was music for all ages and tastes, representing every aspect of the holidays. But what brought everyone up on their feet, was the "musical surprise" brainchild of Dr. Badea.
He thought "if there is an instrument capable of 'bringing down the wall' between all people, that must be the accordion." Therefore, he brought in his accordion to perform the lovely Hungarian Dance no. 5 by Johannes Brahms, with Robert Paolo guest conducting the orchestra. Next, he brought in two more accordionists as special guests of the Brockton Symphony Orchestra. He invited two of the most deserving young accordionists in the country for this performance, two talented young musicians who are well on their way to mastering the secrets of creating beautiful music with accordion, technically as well as emotionally. The two guest accordionists were Christopher Gorton and Anthony Falco, both of them students of Robert Paolo of Johnston, RI. Christopher and Anthony are only two of many great accordionists who have learned in Mr. Paolo's studio. They were "discovered" by Robert Paolo when each was only 7 years old, in the St. Rocco Elementary School in Johnston. Through the years, Robert Paolo has guided them with his "encyclopedic" knowledge, and with his care and patience. Both of them earned New England Champion titles multiple times. Once you hear them playing the accordion, you can only say: "yes, these accordionists are the product of someone who really knows music and accordion!" The families of these students should be proud and thankful for the good luck they have had in their music education. Surely the parents were proud as the last chords of Four by Miles Davis, of Malaguena by Ernesto Lecuona, and Mazurka Variata by Augusto Migliavacca (in a Trio arrangement) were sounded. It is chillingly emotional to recall the frenzy of applause that followed the performance as the entire audience of more than four hundred people stood.
Perhaps any musical instrument could have accomplished that, but this time it was (again) the Accordion. As noted in a newspaper review, "the instrument in the right six hands can work magic."
As the reviewer concluded in the newspaper, "In the lobby, hearing the praise and thanks of the departing audience, one could hardly believe this was the concert that almost wasn't. The City of Champions was again home of 'beautiful music in Metro South.' As the doors opened, the very first snowflakes were falling …….. True holiday concert, true holiday spirit!"
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *