Solo for chansonnier with orchestra

[b]Famous Belarusian accordion player Igor Kvashevich believes that quality of performance, rather than genre, is most vital in music[/b]The first part of the concert featured classical music while the second was dedicated to pop. Few performers dare unite such varied genres in a single concert. However, laureate of international accordion competitions Igor Kvashevich succeeded. His event on the stage of the Belarusian State Philharmonic Society will be long remembered. Kvashevich gave a top performance, inviting virtuoso accordionists Valery Kovtun, Igor Osipenko and Alexander Selivanov. Despite their tight schedule, the maestros found time to attend. Unsurprisingly, the concert was sold out a week beforehand.Kvashevich’s concert was dedicated to his 30th birthday. He already looks back on his career proudly, while planning his future work. Being a professional, he has already won the highest awards. Several years ago, he was the first Belarusian to win the prestigious competition in German Klingenthal. He is a member of the International Higher League of Accordion Artistes and a soloist with the Belarusian State Philharmonic Society. Does he still have anything to strive for? As a successful and popular musician, he has many plans; his mastery is multi-faceted.
Famous Belarusian accordion player Igor Kvashevich believes that quality
of performance, rather than genre, is most vital in music


The first part of the concert featured classical music while the second was dedicated to pop. Few performers dare unite such varied genres in a single concert. However, laureate of international accordion competitions Igor Kvashevich succeeded. His event on the stage of the Belarusian State Philharmonic Society will be long remembered. Kvashevich gave a top performance, inviting virtuoso accordionists Valery Kovtun, Igor Osipenko and Alexander Selivanov. Despite their tight schedule, the maestros found time to attend. Unsurprisingly, the concert was sold out a week beforehand.
Igor Kvashevich feels happy at the stageKvashevich’s concert was dedicated to his 30th birthday. He already looks back on his career proudly, while planning his future work. Being a professional, he has already won the highest awards. Several years ago, he was the first Belarusian to win the prestigious competition in German Klingenthal. He is a member of the International Higher League of Accordion Artistes and a soloist with the Belarusian State Philharmonic Society. Does he still have anything to strive for? As a successful and popular musician, he has many plans; his mastery is multi-faceted.
Meeting Mr. Kvashevich was a revelation; I had no idea that the accordion can be used to perform almost any musical piece, regardless of genre or complexity.
Listening to your performance, I couldn’t decide whether the accordion is a classical or folk instrument.
In Russia, people have played bayan for generations as a folk instrument. In France and Germany, they have their accordion, which has existed from ancient times. It has been used to perform compositions of diverse genres. Belarus, which is situated at the centre of Europe, has absorbed the cultural traditions of the West and East. We use it to play music of various trends, so it’s impossible to say exactly to which group of instruments — folk or classical — it belongs. It probably doesn’t belong to either; everything depends on repertoire.
Kvashevich has two accordions. One has a wide range and is used to perform organ and piano works, as well as chamber music and violin compositions; its timbre is perfect for polka, tango and jazz interpretations.
The accordion is associated with romantic chansonniers — who are rare in Belarus. Are you the first? Which musical works do you enjoy?
We tend to emphasise classical music, over which the French school has indispensable authority. Listeners know this music via such genres as ‘light chanson’ and ‘variety’. I’ve studied various types of performances and I constantly play jazz and pop compositions. I invited prominent bass guitarists to take part my concert at the Philharmonic and used percussion instruments. I can’t say that I have any particular preferences and can’t say that it’s easier to play popular melodies than to perform Bach. Each piece has its peculiarities. A good musician needs to be adaptable. After graduating from the Belarusian Academy of Music, I became an accordion teacher and an orchestra conductor. I’ve learnt so much from my teacher — famous conductor Gennady Provotorov, and continue to learn from the pianists and violinists with whom I liaise. The musician inside you must listen, appreciate and criticise.
Igor believes that a true professional must be a jack-of-all-trades. At present, he is ‘incubating’ his own musical project — a new band containing a bass guitar, percussion instruments, a piano and, of course, a solo accordion. They’re currently improving their mastery and style by performing on academic stages and giving private concerts. He bought his first instrument at the age of eight, with money he earned from playing at a wedding.
Several performers have already moved from organising concert evenings to spectacular shows, like pop stars. They lack accordion players, but have plenty of glamour, soundtracks and even, acrobatic, shows.
Maybe it’s time for a musician of your level to go into showbiz? Look at your Russian colleague Piotr Dranga. He fills stadiums, tours all over the world and records CDs. However, he won his last musical contest ten years ago, when he was a teenager, while you are still taking victories…
Of course, I believe in show business, but it should be civilised and live. If you perform with a soundtrack, you should be ‘deleted’ from all concerts; this is the way they operate in the USA and Europe. I agree with this policy but, unfortunately, it isn’t applied in our neighbouring countries. If you enter ‘Piotr Dranga’ in an Internet search, you’ll find 30,000 site references. ‘Vladislav Pligovka’ — one of the most talented young Belarusian accordionists and the world’s first performer of Tchaikovsky’s ‘Children’s Album’ — gives only 200. I pin great hopes on our new Culture Minister, who has already announced a programme of reform. He is keen to support young producers, who will be able to open doors for new musicians and lead them to popularity. People should recognise these heroes.
Mr. Kvashevich believes creative performers have kind souls and can do no ill. He is convinced that musical culture must be encouraged — that it is vital for our society. “Training levels for children at musical schools are rising in quality, as they are among professional musicians. Of course, we still lack something; some of my colleagues work several jobs — teaching and performing — although we have state support. The Special Presidential Fund supports young talent financially; I received this scholarship myself, and appreciated its timely assistance,” notes Mr. Kvashevich.
Igor hasn’t squandered his talents on trifles. He is true to his principles, as taught by his teachers. He plays for attentive listeners and, judging by his concert at the Philharmonic, serious, good-quality music is still popular. Kvashevich is considered to be one of the world’s top accordionists, with reason.

By Dmitry Alfer
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