Jelena Milojevic

Jelena Milojevic

Renowned accordionist looks to Victoria’s youth

Victoria International Accordion Festival this weekend

Accordionist Jelena Milojevic may have won international competitions, toured the world and recorded three albums, but nowadays her focus is on tomorrow’s squeezebox stars, who she hopes can put Victoria on the world stage.

Raised in Croatia, Milojevic began playing accordion at nine while enrolled in Ivan Matetic-Ronjgov Music School, after she was told that she was too old to start learning piano. In 2003, she took home one of the craft’s most prestigious awards, the CMA World Trophy.

Now settled in Victoria, the 32-year-old spends her time between teaching Camosun College’s two-year accordion program and guiding a handful of younger students.

“There’s a strong history of accordion in Croatia, in Europe, that Canada doesn’t have,” Milojevic said. “I’m relying on these kids to make the art strong in Canada.”

This year, Milojevic is joining her husband Aleksander as artistic director of the Victoria International Accordion Festival, which he founded in 2007.

Milojevic will be holding a workshop alongside Tian Jianan, a young Chinese player who took home the Coupe Mondiale last year, when the international accordion competition was hosted in Victoria. Milojevic’s younger students will also be playing as the Victoria Accordion Kids Band.

Jianan and Russian-American player Stas Venglevski will be headlining the festival, which runs from July 18-20. Tickets are $25-30 and available by phone at 250-384-2111.