Panagiotis Andreoglou

Greek accordion master squeezing his instrument into contemporary music

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Panagiotis Andreoglou is a missionary proselytizing about the virtues of accordion. The Greek musician has traveled to Bowling Green intent on introducing composers and music lovers here to his instrument, and to understanding through experience that it’s more than a vehicle for polka, zydeco or tango. Not, that there’s anything wrong with those venerable styles. They are part of his instrument’s DNA. Still wielding a button accordion, a further development from the more familiar piano accordion, he’s intent on showing that the instrument he begged to play when he was a child has a place in contemporary music. Andreoglou will make his case Tuesday at 8 p.m. in a guest artist recital in Bryan Recital Hall in Bowling Green State University. His program showcases his instrument both as a haunting solo voice and in conjunction with pre-recorded electronics. He will also perform March 2 at 8 p.m. with the New Music Ensemble. Andreoglou is in the early stages of a semester long residency at BGSU made possible by Fulbright Artist Scholarship. He decided to take up residency after meeting BGSU composition professor Elainie Lillios at a music festival in Thessaloniki in his native Greece.  They were intrigued by each other’s music. BGSU’s strong reputation as a center of contemporary music was an attraction. Andreoglou is particularly interested in electro-acoustic music, Lillios’ specialty, where acoustic and electronic sounds merge. The accordionist believes the particular timbre of his instrument lends itself particularly well to the genre, and he wants to encourage composers to explore those possibilities. “Composers are interested generally in new sounds since this is a new instrument with a lot of possibilities they can use.” Andreoglou has been exploring the sound of the accordion since he was 7. His father had a small piano accordion, and could play three songs, Andreoglou remembers.  “I was fascinated,” he said. “I wanted to learn. I insisted.” So his parents sent him to the local music school. A few years later he began piano lessons as well and through his teenage years he played and studied both instruments. When he went to university he focused on piano. He majored in musicology with studies in ethnomusicology and continued his piano at the local music school. It was only after he graduated that the accordion drew him back. By then he had acquired a button accordion. The instrument was developed in the 1950s and allows the player far greater flexibility. The notes are sounded using small buttons. In the right hand each button sounds a single note. The left hand can either be played as a single-note instrument, or as with the piano accordion, play chords. The instrument has almost the full range of a piano, with just a few notes less on the upper register. The sound, he said, is close to that the bandoneon, the accordion-like instrument used in tango. Though he had a button accordion, it sat neglected for several years as he concentrated on piano. Then Andreoglou heard its call and returned. It was like learning almost a new instrument, he said. “You want to play but you can’t play.” The fundamentals from his study of piano and piano accordion helped, but still it was frustrating. Still he was drawn to the accordion. “That first instrument…


Greek accordion virtuoso Panagiotis Andreoglou in residence at BGSU

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Early in her 2014 stay in Thessaloniki, Greece, as a Fulbright Scholar at the Municipal Conservatory at Thermi, Dr. Elainie Lillios, a music composition faculty member specializing in electroacoustic music, attended a concert featuring accordion music. One Greek performer was playing Luciano Berio’s “Sequenza XIII” for accordion, and Lillios found herself “transfixed by the young accordion player. He was amazing.” That was the start of her acquaintance with Panagiotis Andreoglou. Not only is he an accomplished and riveting musician who has given the world premieres of many solo and chamber music works in concerts throughout Europe, but he also shares Lillios’s interest in contemporary and electroacoustic music. The friendship begun in Greece has now resulted in Andreoglou coming to Bowling Green State University as a Fulbright Scholar for the spring semester. “The goal of the Fulbright Program is to meet people and exchange ideas,” he said. “I think with this we are achieving that.” He is working with faculty and students in the College of Musical Arts’ highly regarded program in contemporary music. It is turning out to be a comfortable and productive fit, both personally and professionally. “I feel this is the proper place for my interest,” he said. In addition to the interaction with faculty and students, he finds that the facilities are excellent. “The electroacoustic studios are very fine. I’m very happy to be here,” he said. Area audiences will get to experience his exciting performance on Feb. 7, when he gives a free Guest Artist Series concert at 8 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall at Moore Musical Arts Center. The program will feature his playing of solo works for accordion and electronics. That will be the first of three presentations planned during his stay. His second public appearance will be a talk on Feb. 10 at a seminar for composition students, where he will share information about the accordion and present its possibilities. Andreoglou plays the classical, or concert, accordion, a larger version than the style used to play folk music. With buttons on each side and the ability to produce polyphonic textures, it is well-suited for contemporary music. He is eager to share knowledge about his instrument and encourage composers to write for it. Historically speaking, “it’s a new instrument,” he said, “and collaborations with composers toward the expansion of its repertoire is a vital activity for us accordionists.” On March 2, in a further cultural exchange, he will premiere a piece for accordion and ensemble by a composer friend from Thessaloniki, Dimitris Maronidis, who is composing it especially for the BGSU performance. Dr. Christopher Dietz, a musical composition faculty member, will conduct the New Music Ensemble performance. In the meantime, Andreoglou is attending Lillios’s Music Technology class. Following the round of performances and his talk, he will pursue research on works composed for instruments in combination with electronics. In May, he will participate in the New Music Gathering at BGSU, a smaller version of the annual New Music Festival, which will bring musicians and composers to campus from around the country. He is not fazed by the intense work schedule. “I came to be busy,” he said good-naturedly. Although this is his first time in the United States, he has lived and studied abroad before, in Denmark…