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Accordions Around the World

posted Aug 28, 2016, 7:54 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Aug 28, 2016, 7:54 AM ]
Accordions Around the World is a weekly series that regularly features six accordionists as well as bandoneon/bayan/concertina/harmonium-players of different musical genres performing in various locations around Bryant Park each Wednesday from 6:00 – 8:00
PM. The series represents many cultures and genres, offering audiences the chance to experience the often overlooked or little-known instrument invented in 19th century Europe.

The concertina was developed in England in 1829; while at the same time Vienna was independently patenting a similar instrument called the accordion, which is German for “harmony”. It’s played by squeezing the bellows to generate airflow while pressing buttons or keys to open valves that guide that air across vibrating reeds to produce sound. As Europeans emigrated around the world, its mobility made its popularity spread rapidly.

In keeping with the festival’s name, the emphasis is on international genres. So if you go on a scavenger hunt through the park, you can hear traditional Irish music and American rock and blues; or dance to Yiddish klezmer or Louisiana zydeco. Listen to the musette, a folk dance from southern France originally played on a small bagpipe. Enjoy the vallenato and cumbia from Columbia, where the world's largest accordion competition is held. And the bandoneon is a type of concertina in Argentina essential to both traditional tango and pop music.

The New York Times describes it as "offering accordionists an opportunity to change the stodgy image of their instrument". You can take the F train directly to Bryant Park, and if you see me there, give me a squeeze!