Accordions, multiculturalism and the evolutionary psychology of Charles Crawford.

Accordions, multiculturalism and the evolutionary psychology of Charles Crawford.

I spent 5 years studying psychology up at Simon Fraser and I never took a course with Charles Crawford, known as one of the leading figures in evolutionary psychology. 

I was more interested in the relationship of psychology and health, so I took courses in health psychology, psychology of emotions, behavioral methods, mental health.  I was interested in humanistic and transpersonal psychology, so I took history of psychology, social psychology and I also did my own directed studies.

So I never learned that Charles Crawford played accordion. 

I learned that James Marcia played trombone, because I took his upper division course on Issues in Social Psychology which that year concentrated on Mythology.  Reading Joseph Campbell was great…  I even brought my accordion into class one time, when we did a presentation about creation myths.  I played J.S. Bach's Toccata in D Minor… because for me, it's all about the creative process.

Check out this story by Charles Crawford.

Charles discusses multiculturalism,  the brain drain and the accordion.  He inter-relates these seemingly different topics when the last accordion teacher registered with the BC Music Teachers Association leaves Vancouver for more work in the US. 

Charles cites the demise of the Bordignon accordion factory in Vancouver (formerly on Hastings St.) while in Seattle, the Petosa Accordions flourised.  Crawford writes:

“Vancouver was once a vibrant centre of the accordion. We had
outstanding accordion performers and teachers, such as Alf Carlson, Bob
Dressler, Joe Morelli, and Ernie Rilling. The Bordignon family built
accordions in Vancouver for 75 years. Their skill was such that they
repaired accordions and other free reed instruments for the
Smithsonian. Why had the Petosas prospered in Seattle while the
Bordignons faded in Vancouver?

“We had a rich repertoire of
folk accordion music brought to Canada from all over Europe. What
happened to it? We have modern composers, such as Barbara Pentland and
Murray Schaffer, who write for the modern art accordion. Yet, our one
remaining accordion teacher was planning to fly south.”

I can certainly attest to Seattle's vibrant accordion scene.  When I was still entering accordion music competitions, my teacher would always enter us in the local Vancouver Kiwanis and Coquitlam music festivals.  As numbers became smaller for these events, we would enter the North West Accordion Teachers Music Festival in Seattle.  It was huge.  You could enter your age class, and open division, and also the King or Queen division.  One year I played the 17 page Manhattan Concerto in my bid to become “King of the Festival.”

a) Bagpiper Joe McDonald (in Lion mask) and Todd Wong in 2005 rehearsal for Gung Haggis Fat Choy; b) Todd Wong filmed by CBC camera crew for the CBC documentary Generations: The Chan Legacy at the open house event for Joy Kogawa House; c) Todd Wong and his accordion on the picket line during the recent CUPE 391 Vancouver library workers strike d) Gypsy jazz guitarist Ross Bliss and accordionist Todd Wong trade licks for versions of Sweet Georgia Brown and O Solo Mio.

Maybe Charles Crawford and I will have to get together.  I have a Titano free bass acordion.  My repetoire includes Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, Orpheus in the Underworld Overture, Puccini's Un Bel Dei from Madame Butterfly, and Scott Joplin's The Entertainer.

Maybe I will have to play some celtic jigs and reels.  I have played jazz, and folk tunes with Japanese-Canadian musicologist Harry Aoki.  I have played with gypsy jazz guitarist Ross Bliss.  I have even played the Chinese traditional song “Jasmine Flower (Mo-li Hua) on accordion for CBC radio while my friend soprano Heather Pawsey sang in mandarin Chinese. 

One thought on “Accordions, multiculturalism and the evolutionary psychology of Charles Crawford.

  1. Anonymous

    Hi, is there any chance you have a recording of the jasmine flower you played for cbc that you would be willing to share? i heard an accordion version of it in china and thought it was so beautiful, but i can't find anything like it here.


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