Accordion Fest moves to historic Medina theater on Sunday

Staff Reports Posted 4 September 2014 at 12:00 am

File photos by Tom Rivers – The Buffalo Touch, a polka band, performs last October during the Accordion Fest. The band played under a tent next to the Medina Senior Center. Sunday’s concert will be inside the Medina Theatre.

MEDINA – The Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council 6th annual Accordion Fest on Sunday is moving to a new location, the historic Medina Theatre at 603 Main St.

The program runs from 1 to 5 p.m. and features several bands playing accordions and concertinas from diverse musical traditions. A donation of $5 is requested, with guests 18 and under admitted free, plus the opportunity to win prizes from Roxy’s Music.

The festival last year was outside under a tent in the parking lot next to the Medina Senior Center. Previously, the festival was at Hickory Ridge Golf Course in Holley. It will play for the first time in the Medina Theatre, which opened last year after extensive renovations.

“The theater is such a cool venue,” said Karen Canning, the GLOW traditions program director and coordinator of Sunday’s event. “By moving it inside we also don’t have to worry about the weather.

The Accordion Fest is presented by GO ART! and Roxy’s Music Store with support from Medina Sandstone Trust, the Orleans County Legislature, and the New York State Council on the Arts.

Accordions ‘Round The World will start off the festival at 1 p.m. This will be a presentation of diverse music from Irish, Eastern European, Polish, German and Italian traditions.

SUNY Geneseo Professor of Music Jim Kimball will lead this session, which features musicians Ted McGraw and John Ryan (Irish), Alex Alexandrov (Eastern European), Ken Machelski and Casey Kliszak (Polish), and Pat Gambacurta and Frank Reino (Italian), each performing on their own finely crafted and often unique instruments. The performers collectively illustrate the extensive travels of the accordion through many cultures of our world, especially in folk music.

They’ll be followed by a Roland digital accordion demo at 2:30 p.m.

A debut performance of Roxy’s Accordion Band comes next at 2:45 p.m., followed by additional soloists, duets, trios, and open mike. Over the past year or so, accordion players have been gathering at Roxy’s event center in Batavia once a month to share tunes, conversation and sometimes a workshop on particular techniques of the instrument. The gathering attracts a range from beginners to seasoned players to professional musicians, all enjoying the common interest in accordions and concertinas.

An informal band, led by Deanne Hardy, has recently formed from the group, which offers all ability levels to play together in an all-accordion ensemble. Any player is welcome to attend and offer a tune for the open mike segment, as well.

The Fest will conclude with a mini concert (and dancing) at 4:00 p.m. by Special Delivery, a versatile band from the Buffalo area that advertises “everything from ethnic to alternative.” Longtime polka musicians Mark Kohan, Dave Miesowicz, Ted Szymanski, Jay Skiba, and Tom Goldyn offer their considerable talent not only with Polish favorites and polkas, but also with a variety of danceable music including swing, oldies, Latin and blues.

The accordion is a reed instrument developed in Germany in the 1820s. After traveling around Europe, it became popular in New York by the 1840s. As it moved through Europe, its form and sound changed in response to different musical cultures.

Accordions utilize a “free reed” system to produce their sound, similar in concept to the metal reeds in a harmonica, where the player blows air across the reed to produce musical notes. The accordion was the technical marvel of its day, and its portability enabled many an immigrant to carry his music along with him to New York, Louisiana, Argentina, Mexico, Asia and the Middle East – virtually everywhere.