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Accordions Rising

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What if everything we thought we knew about the accordion were wrong? This film shatters the mistaken notions and tells the real story. Accordions have returned, not only with amusement, but with a beautiful, eloquent, haunting, and downright exciting vengeance!

With a focus on New York City artists, musicians and composers, Accordions Rising explores how appreciation for the music of the accordion has been regaining its footing as a vibrant and versatile instrument and is finally taking its rightful place. The resurgence of interest in accordion music has actually been occurring over the last 30-40 years.  Though many continue to see it as the stodgy instrument of a bygone era - and accordion jokes abound – this film sets the record straight! Accordions deliver a surprising range of styles, express the complete and complex range of human emotion, and reflect the diversity in our culture today.

Touching on its deep history but focusing on the present, Accordions Rising offers entertaining, conversational style interviews, anecdotal commentary and both formal and informal music performances from celebrated accordionists, composers and bands working and performing in America today. These primarily New York based but globe and US trotting musicians, make up the colorful and thoughtful cast of characters who drive the story. They trace their uniquely personal attractions to the instrument and share their surprisingly divergent paths: from immigrant roots, Creole or Roma beginnings, for example, to a recognition of the very special niche this so-called "low art" form offers for inspirations in jazz, classical, new music, pop, fusion forms, operatic styles and beyond. The film provides a tapestry of fascinating individuals, their attitudes, deep passions, and above of all else, profound dedication to the instrument. Though still a rebellious lot, these music makers have an audience in some of the hippest hide-a-ways and most sought-after venues. The film makes clear that the so-called “accordion world” reaches far beyond the borders of the Big Apple, (a microcosm of the larger landscape), and embodies a curious continuum that includes everything from; the familiar, wacky and  wild to the more sophisticated, serious, meditative and post modern.
Let's face it.  Accordions themselves are not much without the people who play them. These are the film’s participants: the performers, composers and others who generously gave of their time as interviewees and storytellers. The interweaving of their very unique personalities, musical inventions and performance examples are the very heart of this story. Participants include Guy Klucevsek, a thoughtful and reflective composer/accordionist, prominent in new music circles ; William Schimmel, master accordionist, exuberant and philosophical; Pauline Oliveros, electronic and experimental improviser with a serious intellectual approach; Will Holshouser, jazz accordionist extraordinaire, low key as can be; Rachelle Garniez, singer, songwriter, musician, perhaps the edgy rebel, Peter Stan, Ambassador of Roma Music “par excellence”, warm and personable; Bob Goldberg with his Famous Accordion Orchestra, spirited and community minded, and Nicole Renaud with her “illuminated accordion,” angelic soprano voice, and steadfast French charm; among others.

Accordions Rising also offers visual and poetic elements that demonstrate the many ways that this most maligned of all musical instruments has captured the imagination of many in the form of informal community events, photography, dance/video, performance, and site-specific work. Not only accordion lovers, but people who appreciate music and those interested in trends in American culture will be interested in this delightful and informative film.

Accordions Rising will be a revelation to those who continue to think that “the accordion is dead.” As William Schimmel points out, “The accordion is the icon of the 21st century.”  Indeed, this film only touches the surface of what is going on out there in the world of accordion culture and accordion music. Not only does the accordion have a past, but a bright and energetic future is in store as well.