Accordion blends with tango in multi-faceted festival

World Accordion and Tango Festival includes the first Trophée Mondiale competition held in Canada

With a new name and a new focus this year, the World Accordion and Tango Festival promises nine days of entertainment and workshop options for lovers of this reedy instrument and passionate dance.

The addition for the first time in Canada of the Trophee Mondiale (World Trophy) competition will bring to Victoria hundreds of bright young accordion stars from around the globe, each looking to make their mark.

Along with the annual festival goings-on, which include soloist and ensemble concerts, skills workshops and industry education opportunities, participants can immerse themselves in all things accordion between Nov. 10 and 15.

“This is B.C.’s largest off-season music festival,” says event organizer Aleksandar Milosevic, who has overseen the change from the Victoria International Accordion Festival to the current combined event. “We’re expecting several hundred visitors coming from out of town, from as far away as India, Korea, China, across Europe, Brazil and Argentina.”

International tango stars Miriam Larici and Leonardo Barrionuevo from Argentina are among the featured dance performers for the World Accordion and Tango Festival. Photo contributed

The tango portion of the week, Nov. 16-18, features some renowned tango performers, including Miriam Larici and Leonardo Barrionuevo from Argentina and Beltango Ensemble from Europe, among others.

Dance events, known as milongas, happen each evening at 7:30 at three different venues. Tango workshops are scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday at The Baumann Centre (925 Balmoral Rd.), 3 and 4:30 p.m. Saturday at the Polish White Eagle Hall on Dock Street, and 3:30 and 5 p.m. at the Solwood Studio, 1303 Broad St. Tickets for tango events are available on the festival website.

Accordion fits into many genres

Victoria’s Mary Ross Klektau, an extremely versatile and experienced accordion player who has performed in numerous genres, including Scottish country dancing. She’ll lead one of the presentations on the week, touching on history and the specifics of accompaniment for accordion.

Many people might pigeonhole the instrument into the European cultural role in which it began, she says. But with elements of classical, chamber music, jazz and more, the festival will demonstrate the versatility of the accordion and its players.

“I think you’ll get people saying, ‘I didn’t know accordions could sound like that,’ Ross Klektau says. “My biggest thing is to educate people that accordions shouldn’t be stereotyped at all.”

Variety of shows and workshops throughout the week

The main venues for the festival are the University of Victoria School of Music and Oak Bay High’s Dave Dunnet Theatre, with First Metropolitan Church, The Baumann Centre, White Eagle Polish Hall and Royal Victoria Yacht Club also on the venue roster.

Throughout the festival, more than 200 performers will take part in dozens of concerts, workshops, dance nights, lectures and exhibitions. Milosevic points to the 50 hours of free programs, including the World Accordion Conference, and the Accordion Museum to be displayed by Tempo Trend Music at the UVic’ School of Music Nov. 11-14, as ways the public can get involved.

“It’s like having two festivals back to back,” Milosevic says.

For more information and to purchase tickets, you can visit watf.ca. Tickets are also available at Tempo Trend Music, Munro’s Books, Long & McQuade, Ivy’s Bookshop and Tanner’s Books.

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