News Release

REF NO.: 30

SUBJECT: Public lecture on 'the little man's piano'

DATE: November 2, 2015

Memorial University’s Research Centre for Music, Media and Place (MMaP) will present a public lecture, The Accordion on New Shores, on Wednesday, Nov. 4, at 7:30 p.m. in the MMaP Gallery on the second floor of the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre.

The speaker will be Dr. Helena Simonett from Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

The accordion and its myriad forms—from the concertina and the button accordion to the sanfoninha and the bandoneón—has spread and taken root across many cultures. Branded as “the little man’s ‘piano,’” it became a medium for popular folk music in numerous regions of the world in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The accordion was thriving among the less affluent because it was a complete “one-man-band,” capable of providing melody, harmony and bass at once; it was also loud and durable and, therefore, ideal for outdoor performances. No other instrument has provoked so many scornful jokes, yet the accordion’s distinctive sounds have touched millions of people, stirred up passions and soothed pain. 

The event will feature live performances by local musicians Lillian Bartlett and Chris Bemister from 7-7:30 p.m.

Helena Simonett received her PhD in ethnomusicology from the University of California, Los Angeles. On the faculty at Vanderbilt University’s Center for Latin American Studies and the Blair School of Music, she has conducted extensive research on Mexican popular music and currently explores the role of Indigenous music and dance in Northwestern Mexico. Her publications include Banda: Mexican Musical Life across Borders (2001), En Sinaloa nací: historia de la música de banda (2004), The Accordion in the Americas: Klezmer, Polka, Tango, Zydeco, and More! (2012) and (with Javier León) of A Latin American Music Reader: Views from the South (forthcoming).

?This lecture is sponsored by Memorial University, as a collaboration between MMaP and the School of Music. The lecture is free and all are welcome.

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