Central Ostrobothnian Conservatory 18.00
Ostrobothnian students of music showcase their talent for accordion-playing. Solos, duets, groups and more. Guests from Raahe, Alajärvi and Pietarsaari;
Junior Accordionists from Kokkola in Finland
Kokkola is a very active town for accordionists in Finland. It is where the Winter Accordion Festival, which belongs to the Finland Festivals organisation, takes place. This festival warms the minds and hearts of its participants at the coldest time of the year, in the middle of frosty February. The continuum of accordion playing is cultivated in Kokkola by dynamic accordion lessons for young people, of which one very important part is the Junioriharmonikat orchestra. Raimo Vertainen, accordion teacher at the Central Ostrobothnia Conservatory, wields the baton for the orchestra and runs the Winter Accordion Festival.
“The youth accordion orchestra was founded some ten years ago in support of basic education in the arts at the Central Ostrobothnia Conservatory. We music teachers felt that, in addition to individual music lessons, young players would greatly benefit from learning the ropes of playing in an orchestra.”
When the orchestra started, it only had five or six members. Today, the orchestra has 34 energetic 6 to 16-year-old accordion virtuosos playing in it, following the method based on Raimo Vertainen’s philosophy.
-“Kids always enter the orchestra via percussion instruments. In the beginning, the new player beats time with the orchestra and little by little, as their skills increase, they start to join in with the accordion in more and more pieces. Finally, they know the whole repertoire,” Raimo Vertainen says.
The list of songs played by the Junioriharmonikat orchestra is very wide ranging: it includes classical, rock, pop, folk and musicals of all kinds. One purpose of this is to acquaint the young players with various genres of music. In rehearsals, they play everything from children’s songs to Abba, the Police and hymns.
– “Hymns are our newest thing. The Winter Accordion Festival begins with a special church service, and in February 2014 Junioriharmonikat will accompany the hymns. In our last rehearsal, we played Smoke on the Water and then followed it with God Who Madest Earth and Heaven,” Vertainen laughs.
Next Conquest: Innsbruck
In the ten or so years Junioriharmonikat has been playing, it has established itself as an orchestra of note, and new accordionists are eager to join it. They have performances throughout the year. The Kokkola Winter Accordion Festival’s opening concert, the fabulous May Day Concert and the Christmas Concert are all part of the regular rhythm of the orchestra’s year. Junioriharmonikat is also a sought-after performer at various parties and events, available to order.
– “The parents’ role in the orchestra is invaluable. They usually organise and serve coffee and cakes at the concerts and support the orchestra’s fund-raising activities. Now our sights are set on Innsbruck in the spring of 2016, where we will take part in the World Music Festival.”