Musicians think outside the squeeze box

Music: Three-day festival scheduled in Okotoks on June 27-29

By: Tammy Rollie

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jun 25, 2014 07:53 am

Accordion player Harvinder Davé will perform in the Accordion Association of Calgary’s three-day festival and competition in the Foothills Centennial Centre June 27-29. The annual festival features performances by accordion and piano players of all ages from across Alberta.
Accordion player Harvinder Davé will perform in the Accordion Association of Calgary’s three-day festival and competition in the Foothills Centennial Centre June 27-29. The annual festival features performances by accordion and piano players of all ages from across Alberta.
Jordan Verlage/OWW

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How one instrument can sound like an entire orchestra continues to amaze a Heritage Heights musician.

Harvinder Davé started playing the accordion when she was 13-years-old and is still charmed by the instrument’s unique ability to produce such a variance of sounds.

“It’s different sounds to make up the whole orchestra,” she said. “When you go to the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra an accordion can do that. It’s very unusual and it’s always a challenge. It’s really varied.”

Okotokians will have the opportunity to hear its capabilities in solo, duet, chamber group and ensemble performances during the Accordion Association of Calgary’s three-day festival and competition in the Foothills Centennial Centre June 27-29.

Davé is among dozens of musicians from across western Canada competing and performing in the event.

The festival kicks off at 7 p.m. on June 27 with a concert by accordion adjudicator Mary Tokarski, of Connecticut, and piano adjudicator Evangeline Mabley, a graduate of the University of Calgary, followed by a 25th year celebration for the Accordion Association of Calgary.

Eighty musicians from across western Canada will compete in piano and accordion categories including classical, jazz, pop, folk and ethnic music June 28 starting at 9 p.m. The event is free and will be followed by an awards ceremony at 5 p.m., a competition of junior and senior ensembles and a concert of chamber groups and accordion orchestras.

On June 29, bursary winners will be announced followed by performances by winning chamber groups and virtuoso solo and duet classes.

Association past-president Maureen Jarosh said the festival is an event worth seeing and hearing.

“The accordion is capable of so many sounds,” she said. “It has so many reeds in it that you can change the combinations of the reeds to get many different vibrations and sounds. You end up with an amazing orchestra sound played by accordions instead of an orchestra. That’s our claim to fame.”

Jarosh is a founding member of the association and owns and operates the Jarosh Accordion Ensemble in Calgary.

“Most of the people in these orchestras are in orchestras because they love playing in groups with other people,” she said. “It’s a solo instrument, but it works well with other groups.”

Jarosh began playing the accordion as a teenager and was hooked within a year due to the instrument’s unique capabilities.

“What you’re trying to do is play a keyboard, but out of a keyboard comes wind music,” she said. “You control the whole thing with air and you have to push and pull to make all of this air go through these two sets of keyboards. I consider it the most physically demanding instrument. You have to have really good coordination skills to be able to manipulate it to its best results.”

Jarosh and Davé met as teenagers while taking music lessons in Calgary and reconnected again 10 years ago when Jarosh invited Davé to join her ensemble.

Davé said she hadn’t played the accordion in years, but took up the instrument again upon Jarosh’s insistence and now plays her Italian Titano accordion weekly.

She will perform this weekend as part of an ensemble, chamber group and a duet with Jarosh, who writes the ensemble’s music with genres ranging from Cirque du Soleil to classical.

“It’s not your typical polka music, it’s a whole range,” Davé said. “That’s what keeps me interested is the type of music she composes and gives us to play. The range is much greater when you play in a group than when you play in a duet.”

Davé encourages those who never heard a solo, duet, ensemble or orchestra on the accordion to take in this weekend’s festival.

“People should come out and see what the accordion can really do,” she said.

“People think it’s an older person’s instrument, but it really is not. I think they will be pleasantly surprised.”

Tickets to see the festival’s evening concerts cost $15 each night or $25 for both evenings. Tickets can be purchased at the door, at www.accordion-now.com or by calling 403-253-0830. Children ages 12 and under are free.


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