Accordionists Grayson Masefield of New Zealand, China’s Jianan Tian and Victoria’s Jelena Milojevic perform at St. Paul’s Anglican Church on Nov. 3. (Photos courtesy Gordan Dumka/World Accordion and Tango Festival)

International accordionist trio to perform at Nanaimo’s St. Paul’s Anglican Church

Concert is a teaser for the upcoming World Accordion and Tango Festival in Victoria

A trio of musicians from around the world are coming to Nanaimo to showcase the full potential of the accordion.

Victoria’s Jelena Milojevic, Jianan Tian of China and New Zealander Grayson Masefield are coming to St. Paul’s Anglican Church on Saturday, Nov. 3 to present a program called World of Accordion featuring a variety of styles from classical to modern.

The concert is a sampler for the upcoming Victoria International Accordion Festival, which this year has changed its name to the World Accordion and Tango Festival and runs from Nov. 10 to 18. The festival will also be hosting the 68th Trophée Mondial world accordion championship, a Canadian first.

Milojevic, Tian and Masefield are all past Trophée Mondial winners and Milojevic said that obligates them to demonstrate a high skill level at the Nanaimo show.

“It will be showcasing everything that accordion can do, so all the technical possibilities of that instrument,” she said of the concert. “Usually for audiences all around, wherever I perform a repertoire that’s written originally for the accordion it’s mind-blowing because they’re not even aware of what accordion can do.”

Milojevic said North Americans are most familiar with accordions in polkas and folk music, but pointed out that the total number of keys and buttons on an accordion give the instrument a range greater than a grand piano’s.

“That allows us to play the full repertoire … that’s played on a different instrument,” she said. “We can play arrangements written for small chamber groups and play it all together on one instrument.”

Accordions also have a wide expressive range, Milojevic explained, as they are fitted with switches that can alter colour and tone and imitate other instruments.

“So we get a palette of all the different sounds that other instruments can’t really do and that’s why we can be more expressive, just in colouration of sound,” she said, adding that manipulating the instrument’s bellows further adds to its expressiveness.

“It uses the range of dynamics that’s going from silence to the extra, extra loud. So it can bring out all possible emotions.”

Milojevic said accordion composers of today are utilizing those elements to get the most from the instrument.

“They write it in a way that’s almost modern rock, pop,” she said. “It’s touching some of those other styles with the rhythmical structures and excitement they build through the piece that it sounds amazing for the audience to hear something they never actually heard before coming from an acoustic instrument.”

WHAT’S ON … World of Accordion takes place at St. Paul’s Anglican Church on Saturday, Nov. 3 at 2 p.m. General admission is $25, $20 for seniors and students. Tickets available at the door or in advance at 250-714-4366. The church will also host Serbia’s Beltango ensemble on Nov. 17 at 2 p.m.

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