Stefan Straubinger (Germany) — Bavarian Bandoneon-Grooves
Stefan Straubinger has cut his teeth on Bavarian folk music. After his studies in architecture he gave up his diploma to become a musician.
He devotes himself to various stylistic directions – traditional music from Bavaria, Germany, the Balkans and the Orient but also Schrammel and drone music, music of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, funk, rock, latin and jazz. Stefan’s main instrument ist he bandoneon, but he is a real multi-instrumentalist and plays among others hurdy-gurdy, baritone horn, Styrian harmonica and his biggest passion – jew’s harp.
Given such a cumulative variety, it is no surprise he is always the last one to go home from jam sessions.
Alevtina Nikitina (Russia) — Young virtuosa with Russian soul
Alevtina Nikitina comes from the Northwest of Russia, from Pskov at the border to Estonia. She started playing the accordion at the age of eight and music was so important to her she turned her love into a career.
Alevtina has finished her studies at the Rimsky-Korsakov conservatory in Saint Petersburg only in 2014, but she has already participated in many national and international accordion competitions and won several first prizes.
She plays the bayan, the Eastern European version of the chromatic button accordion. Alevtina plays many styles but she loves Russian folk music and classical music the most.
Laurent Derache (France) — Esprit and temperament in a jazzy robe
When Frenchman Laurent Derache was seven years old, he assisted once in the organisation of an accordion concert. Subsequently, his father suggested him to learn the instrument and Laurent has not stopped ever since.
His training as a musician and accordionist has led him to numerous conservatories and academies. Alongside the accordion he has studied jazz, harmonics, improvisation and composition and there were times when he was playing for eight hours a day. He has accompanied several chansonniers, has played a lot for theatre and in various ensembles, but his greatest love belongs to his own Laurent Derache Trio.
He found his musical inspirations in e.g. Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, Miles Davis, Dire Straits, Supertramp but also in Bach and Ravel.
Rinah Rakotovao (Madagascar) — The heartbeat of Madagascar
Nirinambinintsoa (Rinah) Rakotovao comes from Madagascar.
His first instruments were the Kabôsy, a box-shaped guitar, and percussion. It was only at the age of 23 that Rinah discovered the accordion for himself which had been imported by the French occupying forces and displaced many traditional Madagascan instruments. But not the music!
Meanwhile, even the accordion is on the brink of extinction as there remain only a few playable instruments (some of them 100 years old) and there is no money to buy new ones.
As an autodidact Rinah plays the traditional betsileo (music with origin in South Eastern Asia) and Madagascan folk music (a mingle-mangle of everything that has dropped by the island).
Servais Haanen (Germany/Netherlands) — The Master of Fine Sounds
Servais Haanen, that musical maverick mastermind! Not just the organizer of the Akkordeonale, he composes and arranges the festival’s ensemble pieces and guides the audience through the programme. Servais’ introductions to each composition and each musician have already acquired cult status, famous for their wit and wisdom.
For a long time now, he has been working on pushing the boundaries of what his accordion can do, integrating elements of New Music, minimalistic structures and other unusual and exceptional sounds. Thanks to his multifaceted work with bands (i.a. Appellation Contrôlée, Quatro Ventos, KlangWeltenFestival) and his activity as a composer for various productions at music theatres and for film documentaries, Servais brings into play diverse musical material.
In addition to being an accordion teacher, one of his dearest activities is his ensemble work with exceptional or impossible instrumentation.
Twelfth Day (Schottland, Atmospheric Folk from Schottland)
Duo Twelfth Day are violinist Catriona Price and harpist Esther Swift from Scotland. Their vocals sound like an etheric tableau of voices.
Catriona and Esther compose their pieces together, drawing their inspiration on traditional folk, classical elements, pop and minimal music and creating a kind of music beyond accustomed genres.
Innovative atmospheric folk. Catriona and Esther are simply inseparable.