The female Soul of Tango
Initially, Argentinean Florencia Amengual studied classical and electric guitar at the Technological Institute for Contemporary Music in Buenos Aires.
But soon she discovered tango for herself, the bandoneon and her love for music.
She studied bandoneon under Gabriel Rivano in Buenos Aires and Marcelo Mercadante in Barcelona, where she still lives today.
Florencia Amengual composed for various music and theatre companies. With her tango trio “La Sacado”, she is very successfully touring through Europe, conveying the sound of her city Buenos Aires at milongas, festivals and concerts.
She is one of the few female bandoneon players who knows how to represent her predecessors in a fresh way without loosing sight (and sound) of the original.
Roma – Balkan – Fever
Bukarest based Roma Florinel Ionita stems from a family of musicians. He originates from the Romanian village Clejani, whose two clans of musicians constitute the “Taraf de Haidouks” that brought the small village world fame.
As tradition would have it, he started to play accordion in his early childhood and at the age of fourteen already performed as a weddings’ musician.
He is accordionist of the “Mahala Rai Banda”, an ensemble that merges gypsy folk with jazz and pop – pure party!
The mahalas are the suburbian ghettos where the poorest of the poor live, mostly Roma that are often referred to as “blacks” on the Balkan. For the musicians among them, playing an instrument is often not necessarily driven by passion but also by misery.
The “Mahala Rai Banda” became famous with their track “Mahalageasca” for DJ Shantel, which became the theme song for Sasha Baron Cohen’s movie “Borat”.
Jazzy Groove in Styrian
Austrian Johannes Steiner grew up with the Styrian accordion. As a fourteen year old boy, his quest and vision had already begun. He felt urged to squeeze every musical facet out of the diatonic instrument and any playing technique that seemed possible on it.
After his studies in music for traditional Austrian folklore and during his subsequent studies of jazz and pop music, he began to increasingly integrate the Styrian harmonica into musical styles for which it had been an uncommon instrument so far.
In his project “Die Resonanz”, influences of world music, jazz, avant-garde, balkan etc. become interwoven in an individual sound image, with a lot of space for interaction and improvisations.
Sandy Brechin is one of Scotland’s most famous accordionists. He plays with the bands “Burach”, “Seelyhoo”, “The Sandy Brechin Band” and “The Sensational Jimi Shandrix Experience”, just to name a few.
He releases new Scottish folk music on his own label (Brechin all Records) as well as historical recordings, among them “The Complete Songs” of Robert Tannahil.
He is a tutor for accordion in traditional music at the National Centre for Excellence, the only school of its kind in the country.
Sandy Brechin composes his songs in traditional style, most of them have been released in a course book for Scottish accordion.
The Master of Fine Sounds from the Netherlands
As musical contrarian, Dutchman Servais Haanen is string puller and organiser of the Akkordeonale. Among other things, he composes and arranges the festivals’ ensemble pieces.
Servais has left his former home of classical and folk music far behind to realize his sensitive and poetic compositions on the diatonic button accordion. His music appears like a mixture of minimal music, nightclub jazz, musette and the love for the sensitive, allowing his accordion to set foot into spheres where it hasn’t yet had a place …
Thanks to his versatile work with groups like Appellation Contrôlée (avant-garde), Quatro Ventos (fado and Portugese music), KlangWelten-Festival (world music) and his activity as a composer for various productions at music theatres and for film documentaries, Servais brings into play the most diverse musical material.
Besides being a tutor for accordion, one of his dearest activities is his manifold ensemble work with exceptional or impossible instrumentation.
Sigrún Kristbjörg Jónsdóttir (Trombone)
Young Icelander Sigrún Kristbjörg Jónsdóttir studied violin and piano at FÍH at the department for jazz and rock music. During her studies, she replaced the piano with her great love the trombone.
Together with her group “The Icelandic Wonderbrass”, Sigrún played for 18 months in Björk’s Volta world tour. She’s currently studying trombone and violin at Codarts, Hogeschool of Arts in Rotterdam.
Séan Reagan (Violin, Mandola)
Sean Regan lives in Galway in Western Ireland. With his multifaceted and velvet glove style of playing the violin, he has established his reputation as one of the best violin players in the Irish music scene.
It is not only the world of traditional reels and jigs that he dwells in, he’s a gifted improvisational musician, and is in great demand for Irish Sessions, folk and rock concerts.
Sean Regan played, among others, together with Sharon Shannon, Damien Dempsey, Andrea Corr and recently alongside Moya Brennan from Clannad.