Category Archives: Accordions

World Accordion Day May 6th

Happy World Accordion Day…. 24 hour live streaming of accordion music from around the world….

http://www.accordions.com/cia/cia_wad_directory_2012.htm
Confederation Internationale des Accordéonistes CIA

www.accordions.com
The Confederation Internationale des Accodeonistes (CIA) are the organisers of the annual Coupe Mondiale World Accordion Chapmionships

We celebrated World Accordion Day Eve last night with Jessica Fichot concert at Le Centre…

She sang mostly in French… 2 songs in Chinese, 2 songs in Spanish, 1 song in Russian… then had dinner with Jessica and her band at Wild Rice – for some Chinese-West Coast fusion cuisine
Check Jessica Fichot’s website
www.jessicasongs.com
Chanteuse and songwriter Jessica Fichot is a lot like her hometown of Paris: French at heart, but with a soul that’s truly universal…

Chelsea Hotel is an inventive presentation of Leonard Cohen songs

Chelsea Hotel is inventive and theatrical – and probably more fun than a Leonard Cohen concert!


Adrian Glynn McMorran (The Writer), Marlene Ginader (The Lover), Steve Charles (The Sideman), and Lauren Bowler (Sister of Mercy) perform many dramatic and musically diverse collaborations of Leonard Cohen songs during “Chelsea Hotel” at the Firehall Arts Centre – photo David Cooper, courtesy of Firehall Arts Centre


Chelsea Hotel featuring the songs
of Leonard Cohen

Dates and
Venue
8 February – 3 March 2012, 8pm, (2pm Weekend matinees
& 1pm Wedmatinees) | Firehall Arts Centre

Conceived and Directed by Tracey Power

Artistic Direction by Donna Spencer

Music Direction by Steven Charles

Performed by Rachel Aberle, Lauren Bowler, Steve Charles, Benjamin Elliott, Marlene Ginader, Adrian Glynn McMorran
DATES: February 8 to March 3, 2012

8pm, 2pm (Weekend matinees), 1pm (Wednesday matinees)

Today is opening night of “Chelsea Hotel” at Firehall Arts Centre –
featuring songs and poetry of Leonard Cohen…. AND the ACCORDION is a
featured instrument… actually it is the first musical instrument to play in
this amazingly theatrical production.  There are constant visual surprises for the audience.  And there are musical surprises too.  Three
males and three females take turns on up to many different instruments
including violin, cello, double bass, electric guitar, electric bass, drum kit, acoustic guitar, keyboard, ukelele, tambourine, and kazoo…

I saw Chelsea Hotel on Friday Night – the first performance… a world premiere – preview version… and LOVED IT.  I have had Leonard Cohen ear-worms in my head all weekend, as I listened to my Cohen cd's trying to figure out the titles of the songs that were included in the production.

There have been many musicals made of songs by specific songwriters.  Mama Mia by ABBA… Jersey Boys is based on the music of The Four Seasons… Uptown Girl is the music of Billy Joel.  And way before that, musicals were made of George Gershwin and Cole Porter songs.  All of these have a story arcs, and dialogue to develop the plot lines.

But there is no invented dialogue in Chelsea Hotel, nothing but the songs and poetry of Leonard Cohen.  Director Tracey Power has conceived and created a theatrical presentation that moves seamlessly from song to song with interspersed words of poetry.  The drama is in the storytelling of the songs.  The dynamic tension is in the body language and the faces of the performers.  The story is in the words of each song, as they speak of love, break ups, regret, hate, and reconciliation.  And somehow it all works.

Like the musical Chicago, these performances are part fantasy and part memory recall.  The character called The Writer (Adrian Glynn McMorran) is trying to write at his desk and having difficulties.  The inventive set is piled high with crumpled pieces of paper.  The Writer is having writer's block in a room at the Chelsea Hotel in New York City (where Cohen lived for awhile).   He groans and crumples up another piece of paper to throw it against the wall.  Suddenly a man pops up playing a tune on an accordion… and thus the interior workings of The Writer's attempts at song writing began,  The Writer recalls a woman in his life – and a female performer steps onto the stage singing about their relationship.  Then next another musician steps onstage for accompaniment, and another woman who joins in the singing…

Steve Charles (guitar), Benjamin Elliott (accordion), Marlene Ginader (violin), Rachel Aberle (voice), photo David Cooper, courtesy of Firehall Arts Centre

The songs are strangely familiar, as they take their turns like old shirts from a long forgotten box of clothes.  They are comfortable, and in a variety of musical styles and arrangements.  Some songs are old like Suzanne or Lover Lover Lover.  Many are from Cohen's middle period of the 80's and 90's such as I'm Your Man, Tower of Song, First We Take Manhattan and Hallelujah. 

The production is sooooo playful.  There is a carnival cabaret atmosphere, with the performers all wearing whitened faces and exagerated costumes.  Benjamin Elliot's character is called The Magician.  Musical Director Steve Charles is performing as The Side Man.  The arrangements vary from solo instruments to string trio, acoustic folk stylings, to full-on rock and roll.

I found the
musicianship to be surprisingly good… the performers pick up
their instruments and play them when you least expect it.  Rachel Aberle and
Lauren Bowler as The Sisters of Mercy,  both have amazing presence and create dynamic and sexual
tension with Adrian Glynn McMorran's The Writer and the audience.  Marlene Ginader is innoculously beautiful to watch.  She first seems to float down from the mountain of
crumpled paper after appearing first as musical supporting cast on violin, and her character The Lover, takes on increasingly important dynamics.

Friday night was the first audience performance prior to Wednesday's Opening Night on Feb 8th.  I thought the production flowed well.  There was a standing ovation for the performers.

Chelsea Hotel is a fun production.  There are constantly visual and musical developments happening as well as the interaction of the characters.  The songs are entertaining in themselves – both for lyrical beauty, irony and humability.  My recommendations are:
1) don't sit in row A on the floor – there is a row AA in front of you that obscures your view. 

2)
don't sit in the audience far left side.  It is hard to see some aspects
of the stage and performers – that are hidden by a set design.

Marlene Ginader (The Lover), and Adrian Glynn McMorran(The Writer) sing their hearts out to each other, after loving, hating, resenting, pining, forgiving each other to find resolution. – photo David Cooper, courtesy of Firehall Arts Centre

see other links about Chelsea Hotel:
http://www.straight.com/article-596306/vancouver/chelsea-hotel-brings-cohen-songs-life

Georgia Straight: Gung Haggis Fat Choy at Floata rings in the Year of the Water Dragon

Announcing
the inaugural 
“Gung Haggis Fat Choy Intercultural Achievement Awards of
Awesomeness”
Congratulations to Vancouver Opera's James Wright,
Parliamentary poet laureate Fred Wah, and cultural organizer and poet
Jim Wong-Chu. These are people that inspire what we love in the BC Arts,
and what we create at Gung Haggis Fat Choy… and our intercultural
projects through the year.  Great that the Georgia Straight scooped this dinner highlight from our event last night.
 

Tetsuro
Shigematsu (far left) and Todd Wong (right) granted the Gung Haggis Fat
Choy Intercultural Awards of Awesomeness to Vancouver Opera's James
Wright, poet Fred Wah, and Ricepaper founder Jim Wong-Chu.

photo Charlie Smith


Georgia Straight: Gung Haggis Fat Choy at Floata rings in the Year of the Water Dragon

“Politicians of all stripes must have had other business in this
postelection malaise, as the 15th annual Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie
Burns Chinese New Year dinner went off without them.

The only person to note this was Scottish-born-and-raised local political veteran Margaret Birrell, who told the Straight that Scotland is likely to vote for independence from the U.K. in 2014.

Other than Birrell, nobody seemed to mind too much, as there was music, poetry, whisky, haggis, banter, and fun a-plenty.

Cohosts
Tetsuro Shigematso and Gung Haggis creator Todd “Toddish McWong” Wong
made sure the night was seamless at the Floata Restaurant in Chinatown,
which culminated in a cross-cultural Mandarin-English version of “Auld
Lang Syne” (“Youyi dichang-tianju”), traditionally used to sing in the
New Year in Scotland and elsewhere.”

read more at:

Gung Haggis Fat Choy CBC tv special was created in 2004

Gung Haggis Fat Choy – the TV special!!

Will it ever be shown again?

In 2004 CBC Vancouver created the Gung Haggis Fat Choy television performance special – it ran again in 2005.  Producer was Moyra Roger who was nominated for 2 Leo Awards for her wonderful work.


View Clip
Gung Haggis Fat Choy
Chinese New Year.
Robbie Burns Supper. Gung Haggis Fat Choy fuses the two unique cultural
events in a celebration of music, dance and tradition. Featuring
performances by The Paperboys, Silk Road Music, George Sapounidis, Joe McDonald & Bravewaves

A CBC Television production.

It was a lot of fun consulting for this project.  Moyra was great to work with, as was executive producer Rae Hull.  And I also became friends with Qiu Xia He and Andre Thibuault of Silk Road Music, George Sapounidis of Ottawa, and also got to know The Paperboys.  Neil Gray gave the Address to the Haggis.  And my longtime bagpiper friend Joe McDonald and his band Brave Waves was featured performing Auld Lang Syne with singer La La – who was also featured later at Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner events.

In 2007 CBC created a documentary series about long time multi-generational families across Canada.  The Rev. Chan Yu Tan family and descendants were selected to be the family from BC.   This was also due to the work I had done in organizing Rev. Chan family reunions, blogging about the family, and helping create a photo exhibition at the Chinese Cultural Centre titled Three Pioneer Canadian Chinese Families in 2002.

Some of the footage from the 2004 Gung Haggis Fat Choy tv performance special were included in the Generations: The Chan Legacy documentary, as well as footage from a 2004 interview I did with Peter Mansbridge for CBC's The National news show.

Here is the picture of me and write up about the Generations: The Chan Legacy documentary

Chan Legacy

The documentary begins with Todd Wong playing the accordion, wearing a
kilt. He promotes cultural fusion, and in doing so, he honours the
legacy of his great, great, grandfather Reverend Chan Yu Tan. The Chans
go back seven generations in Canada and are one of the oldest families
on the West Coast. Reverend Chan's granddaughter Helen Lee, grandson
Victor Wong, and great grandson Gary Lee recall being barred from
theaters, swimming pools and restaurants. The Chinese were not allowed
to become doctors or lawyers, pharmacists or teachers. Still, several
members of the Chan family served in World War II, because they felt
they were Canadian and wanted to contribute. Finally, in 1947, Chinese
born in Canada were granted citizenship and the right to vote.

Today, Todd Wong, represents a younger generation of successful
professionals and entrepreneurs scattered across North America. He
promotes his own brand of cultural integration through an annual event
in Vancouver called Gung Haggis Fat Choy. It's a celebration that joins
Chinese New Year with Robbie Burns Day, and brings together the two
cultures that once lived completely separately in the early days of
British Columbia.

Photo session for Globe & Mail of Toddish McWong

Snow and Kilts and Accordion and Toddish McWong at the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Chinese Classical Garden

photo by Deb Martin

The Globe and Mail is doing an interview profile on me for Tuesday January 17th, by journalist Sarah Hampson, and asked photographer Raphael to take pictures of me for the article.  Hampson asked me lots of questions about the hows and whys of Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.  She wanted to get the behind the scenes story of my personal motivations, and my community work.  Here is a link to the Hampson article Haggis wontons Robbie Burns night meets Chinese New Year  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/relationships/news-and-views/sarah-hampson/haggis-wontons-robbie-burns-night-meets-chinese-new-year/article2304305/

The Globe & Mail editor had suggested having the pictures taken in Vancouver Chinatown.  I suggested to the photographer that we meet at the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Chinese Classical Gardens – currently nominated as one of the Great Spaces in Canada.  You can vote here for the Gardens

photo Deb Martin

Deb took some pictures of Raphael taking pictures of me.  The top and bottom pictures were posed exclusively for Deb, after Raphael had left, as we took advantage of the wonderful setting.

photo Deb Martin

This is me reading Robbie Burns' poetry to the pet dragon on my right shoulder.  Somehow, I thought this would make me more scholarly if we took the picture inside the Scholar's Study.

The Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens looked incredible with the freshly fallen snow, and the red lanterns set up for the Chinese Lunar New Year season.  On January 29th, I will be returning to the gardens to play accordion with my fellow musicians in the Black Bear Rebels Celtic Ceilidh ensemble for the Chinese New Year celebrations.  We play 2 sets at 2:30 and 3:30pm.  The parade starts at 12 noon and goes to 2pm, so be sure to visit us!

More photos on my Flickr account here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/53803790@N00/sets/72157628876393873/show/

Accordions at Heart of the City Festival

Accordions took over Carnegie Centre
for the Heart of the City Festival event
“Accordion To Immigrants”


Vancouver Squeezebox Circle performed Nov 5th at Carnegie Centre – l-r special guest Renee de la Prade of  “Accordion Babes” from California, Rowan Lipkowits, Ans, Glen, Todd Wong, Franz Gerber, Halke Kingma, (missing from photo is Alan Zisman) – photo Deb Martin

Fantastic accordion concert at Carnegie Centre…. with Vancouver Squeezebox Circle. We alternated solos and group songs. 

The inspiration for the event was to tell the story of 125 years of immigrants to Vancouver's Strathcona and Downtown East Side neighborhoods.

My solos were: St. Louis Blues and JS Bach's Tocatta in D Minor – +
Hungarian Dance #5 (turned into a duet with Halke Kingma whom I had never played
with before, and who hadn't played the song in 15 years.

Best unexpected moment was when Renee de la Prade joined us on stage to sit in – and I asked her if she would like a solo spot.  She stood up to play and sing an Irish whiskey song, then followed up with a Celtic Reel.

“How do you follow that?” I asked the audience, and performed JS Bach's Tocatta in D Minor, which the sound tech added some reverb through the microphone and sound systems to make the performance sound like we were in a big church.  Renee later complimented me on the performance, saying she really liked it.

2nd Best unexpected moment – was acknowledging that Jimi Hendrix had lived in Strathcona / Hogan's Alley at his grandmother Nona Hendrix's home, then having Rowan performing “Purple Haze” with a surprise bridge excerpt of “Star Spangled Banner”

Vancouver Squeezebox Circle performs 1:30pm Saturday Nov 5 @ Carnegie Centre

Accordion and Vancouver's 125 year History of Immigrants
2009_Sept_Accordion_Noir_Festival 044 by you.
Accordions
“Squeeze Box Circle” is led by Rowan Lipkovits (front right with big
red accordion) at Spartacus Books.  I am in the front row kneeling wearing a black Terry Fox t-shirt, with my hand on Elena's beautiful red accordion! Usually the 1st Thursday of the
month – this session was Sept 10th 2009 as a special part of the Accordion
Noir Festival.

Come see the Vancouver Squeezebox Circle perform at Heart of the City
Festival.  We have been practicing for a month to create group
performances to represent songs from Italian, Chinese, Japanese,
Russian, Irish, Ukranian communities that have settled into Strathcona
and DTES neighborhoods over 125 years.  Plus we have some great solo
pieces to represent German, Italian, Jewish, Dutch communities and
more!!!

Spoiler Alert !  I am playing solo versions of JS Bach's Tocatta in D Minor + St. Louis Blues
http://www.heartofthecityfestival.com/saturday-november-5/

Group Songs are:

Mo Li Hua (Chinese)
O Solo Mio (Italian)
Freylach (Jewish)
Dark Eyes / Ochi Chyornye (Russian Song)
Bandura (Ukranian song)
Buddy Bowden's Blues (American)
Can Can (we will do as a group accordion march – outdoor to four
corners of Main & Hastings Street and into the Carnegie Theatre for
1pm)
Neil Gow's Lament (Scottish)
Sakura – (Japanese)
La Bastringue / Reel des Ouvrieres (Quebec)

We had a preview in the Georgia Straight by Alex Varty

Cultures tangle in the Heart of the City Festival's Trisurgence


Straight.comAlexander Varty 27 Oct 2011

The brainchild of fifth-generation Vancouverite Todd Wong and members of Vancouver's burgeoning Squeezebox Circle, this free event uses the humble accordion

Accordions VS Ukelele Grudge Match for Accordion Noir Festival: Accordions Rule!

Accordions VS Ukelele: Grudge match of the under-appreciated music instrument
The trash talking was going full bore on the Facebook group event page, escalating in the days before the event.  Saturday September 24th, 8pm at Little Mountain Gallery on 26th Avenue, just off Main St.
It was the Great Accordion
VS Ukelele under-appreciated instrument GRUDGE MATCH.
The
event was MCed by accordionist Barbara Adler of the punk band Fang. 
Team Accordion also featured Jack Gordon of the group “Maria in the
Shower”. Lots of trash-talking, between the Team Captains… too much
fun!
Team Accordion
demonstrated great diversity of performances… while Team Ukelele tried
to use the option “Call a Friend” – a total of 3 times, bringing in
bagpipes, mouth harp and saxophone – to pinch hit for them. My solo
performance was a rebuttal to their “avante-garde-classical-mo
ment”, for which I played J.S. Bach's “Toccata in D Minor, to a rousing ovation. Take that! ukeleles!
I perform J.S.
Bach's Toccata in D Minor – with lots of cheering, heckling, laughing
and applause – not your typical setting for classical music. 
My
performance Accordion Noir Festival on Saturday

My
performance Accordion Noir Festival on Saturday

www.youtube.com

Todd
plays JS Bach for Team Accordion at the Accordions vs Ukuleles Grudge
Match – Day 2 of Vancouver's Accordion Noir Festival, held at Little
Mountain Art Gallery
Here is a list of the videoed performances of Team Accordion and Team
Ukelele, recorded by Alan Zisman, and conceptualized by Barbara Adler, as part of the Accordion Noir Festival – founded by Rowan Lipkowits.

Missed
last weekend's Accordion Noir Festival? Or went but want to remember
it? I've posted video clips from Fang (Friday night): http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDB75EFC51C5B523C , Geoff Berner (Friday night): http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL00C87B447A492C0A and the Saturday Accordions vs Ukuleles Grudge Match: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL7A978059D64C1ED3 for your listening pleasure.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy entry in Vancouver's St. Patrick's Day Parade

Gung Haggis Dragon entertains in Vancouver's St. Patrick's Day Parade

photo
photo is courtesy of Catriona67 on Flickr


Great
day at the St. Patrick's Day Parade! Our Gung Haggis dragon was a hit –
interacting with the people lining the streets. The children LOVED it!
Here is a picture of us with our parade dragon. Jennifer is carrying the head of the dragon, Todd is wearing the yellow Macleod kilt, Carolyn in a blue Fraser Hunting kilt, and Evan in green and purple “Pride of Scotland” kilt.

photo
Photo courtesy of Catriona67 on Flickr.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy parade entry…. representing the largest Robbie Burns Dinner in the City of Vancouver…  the car is covered with Chinese lucky red envelopes that are traditionally given out at Chinese New Year and other special occasions.  A large Chinese Lion Head mask is on the hood of the car, while two smaller Lion head masks are on the roof of the car.  Also on the car are stuffed toy dragons, dragon boat paddles.  On the windshield is a Quatchi Olympic mascot wearing a kilt.My car was decorated with the usual shamrock decorations.Lucky red “li-see” envelopes taped all over the car + St. Paddy's
decorations.

2011_March_CelticFest 035
The Green Man

2011_March_CelticFest 046

Da Danaan Irish School of Dance

2011_March_CelticFest 045
My drummer friends Tony and Cassandra with the City of New Westminster Pipe Band

2011_March_CelticFest 049

The North Shore Celtic Ensemble


The Vancouver Police Lion Dance team was in the
parade…. Gung Haggis Fat Choy had a 5 person dragon…. Falun Dafa
had a “lotus float” + drummers…. BC Lions Cheerleaders had some
Asians, as did 93.7JR Country Radio (driving the truck)…. Koreans were
in the parade… but did you see the Hapa-Asian-Canadians in the Da
Danaan Irish Dancers… and the Stave Scottish Dancers?

Then off to the Celtic Village,

Johnny Fox's Snug for some
Guinness, Ottawa Valley step-dancing workshop with Stephanie Cadman,

then great music with Roolya Boolya @ Doolin's Irish Pub