Sunday January 31, 2016

Accordions finally get the respect they deserve

Accordionist Alex Meixner gets feet tapping with his unique brand of "polka fusion."

Accordionist Alex Meixner gets feet tapping with his unique brand of "polka fusion." (Chris Spiegel)

Listen 19:46

When it comes to making beautiful music, there are instruments that immediately come to mind. Such as the piano or the violin.  And then there are those that definitely don't come to mind. Take the accordion. Please!!

Oh, the poor accordion, the butt of endless jokes.  Like this one: a man parks his car in a rough part of town with two accordions on the back seat, forgetting to lock the back door. When he returns, there are three accordions. 

Those devoted to this much maligned instrument have heard them all. And they would like to point out a few facts that might have gotten lost amidst the chuckles.

Michael Bridge and Joseph Macerollo

Michael Bridge (right) has established himself as one of Canada's great accordionists. In this photo he is seen studying with another Canadian great, Joseph Macerollo, the man responsible for the accordion becoming accepted in Canada as a classical instrument.

There is now a growing wave of youthful enthusiasts, like Michael Bridge, Alex Meixner, and Alicia Baker who are embracing the old squeeze box with a new gusto, pumping out all styles of music and turning on a whole generation of young listeners to its unique sound.  But it's not just among the young, that it's getting respect.

The accordion, thanks to the pioneering work of Canadian Joseph Macerollo, has made it into the halls of academia as a bona fide classical instrument, one worthy of study right up to the doctoral level.

Alicia Baker

Alicia Baker, one of the fresh faces bringing the joys of the accordion to a younger audience.

Frank Faulk's documentary is called "New Squeeze".

* The music playing under Joseph Macerollo, is from a piece he performed:  "R. Murray Schafer's Accordion Concerto"