Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Accordian Universe

This picture graced the cover of today's Washington Post. I admit to instant intrigue.

Apparantley, Alexandria, VA, is the host of this year's 60th Annual Coupe Mondiale, the "world cup of accordian competitions for younger players:"
Imagine a universe exactly like ours in every way but for a lone
exception: There is only one type of music. Accordion music.
This week, such parallel universes have collided.

"The soundtrack of life is full of accordions," says Faithe
Deffner, the U.S. delegate to, and vice president of, the Confederation of International Accordionists, which stages the Coupe Mondiale every year. "People don't see accordions very much, but they're always in commercials, television, movies."

More than 1,000 accordionists have descended upon Alexandria to join with their musical kin at the week-long festival. There's an international competition in which 70 musicians under age
32 compete in six categories (winners will perform at 6 tonight at the Kennedy Center) and a domestic competition of 300 players.


In popular culture, the accordion is often maligned. Frank
Busso, 64, of New York, has played the instrument since age 7. He earned a master's degree in business but found playing and teaching the accordion lucrative enough that he never used the degree.

"The good appearances of the accordion are in the background," Busso laments. Nobody notices the accordion player in "Scent of a Woman" as Al Pacino, intoxicated by Gabrielle Anwar's perfume, sweeps her off her feet to tango. Nobody notices when the super-spies of "True Lies," Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis, are dancing to accordion music. They do remember Urkel.

"Steve Urkel," Busso says with a groan. "He didn't do much
for the accordion." Busso's referring to the uber-nerd from the '90s TV show "Family Matters," with his oversize glasses, suspenders hiking his pants well over his bellybutton, and his incompetent accordion playing. Sadly, the accordion got lumped in with the rest of it.


And so it is at the Coupe Mondiale. The accordion as uniter of
families, as breadwinner, as instrument of seduction, as the varsity letter's superior.
The article goes on to highlight several competitors, one who claims: "Without the accordion, I'd just be another drummer or something."

Read the full article here.

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