By Amanda Whiting
On Saturday, September 18th, Roland Corporation U.S. hosted some of America’s most talented accordionists for the 3rd annual V-Accordion Festival. Contestants of all ages applied throughout the summer for a coveted slot in the final competition, but only two winners could be crowned, one for the Youth division, and one for the Adult division.
Taking home top honors in the Adult division was Christopher Gorton of Providence, Rhode Island. An accordion player of 18 years, Gorton started competing at the age of 7 and has participated in many competitions, including the Coupe Mondiale Festival in 2003, and has won the US Accordion Championship in classic music in 2002 and 2003
Like all of the finalists of the V-Accordion Festival, Gorton played on the flagship Roland FR-7x V-Accordion, and was able to practice his routine on the instrument before his final performance. "The V-Accordion is amazing. At first I was a skeptic when I first saw it, but once I picked it up and started playing with it I fell in love with it. It’s an amazing instrument, it’s so versatile, it’s the future of the accordion in my opinion."
His performance repertoire included arrangements of "Four" by Miles Davis, two slow tangoes, and a Latin medley of "Tico Tico", "Muchacha de Fuego", and "Brazil." His performance utilized the broad range of sounds and capabilties of the V-Accordion, orchestrating his accordion pieces as if conducting a full ensemble of different instruments. Combining this aesthetic with his impressive accordion chops proved to be a winning combination for judges Ric Iannone, Joe Natoli, and Lynne Marie Rink.
As winner of the U.S. V-Accordion Festival, Christopher Gorton will represent the United States in the 4th Annual V-Accordion Festival in Rome, Italy. "It feels incredible, it’s like a dream come true."
The other top winner was Andre Fry from Grand Forks, North Dakota in the Youth Division. While he has only been playing the accordion for 13 months, his skill with the instrument earned him the praise of the judges and audience alike. Bilingual in Russian and English, his interest in the accordion began in Russia where he learned to play the bayan.
This year also saw the creation of the Ron Lankford Memorial Performance Award, named in honor of V-Accordion product specialist Ron Lankford, whose enthusiasm and untimely passing deeply touched the accordion community. Recipients of this award exemplify the passion, excitement, and unbridled joy for playing the accordion. This year’ award was given to Hannah Jane Robbins, whose love of the accordion swept the audience and judges away. She was able to perform and meet her favorite accordion player, Lynn Marie Rink, who was one of the judges of the V-Accordion Festival.
Runners-up included Svetlana Ivanchenko of Dallas Texas in the Adult Division, and Johan Knoff from Randolph, Vermont. To follow the upcoming 4th Annual V-Accordion Festival in Rome, Italy, please visit www.v-accordionfestival.com.