National Accordion Orchestra
As a national representative orchestra, the National Accordion Orchestra (BuAkkO) is dedicated to developing literature for accordion orchestras by commissioning and premiering new works as well as by arranging traditional symphonic works for accordion orchestra.
The National Accordion Orchestra’s offer for participation in the orchestra is thus directed at musicians who are involved with accordion music either as music students, music teachers, soloists or conductors, or at amateur musicians whose proficiency is at professional level, thus qualifying them to be a member of the ensemble. If required, proficiency can be demonstrated by audition or relevant references.
The work of the orchestra is organised in project years. They take place in two two-day rehearsal phases in January and February which subsequently end with a concert première of the current concert programme. This is usually followed by one or two further concerts in the first half of the year.
The National Accordion Orchestra performs under the baton of federal conductor in the German Harmonica Association (Deutscher Harmonika Verband, DHV), Stefan Hippe, and is regularly joined by guest conductor for extraordinary project years.
Stefan Hippe, conductor
Prof. Dr. Matthias Hemmje, Project Manager
Accordion State Youth Orchestras
The Accordion State Youth Orchestra of Baden-Wuerttemberg (ALJO/BW) is the representative accordion orchestra of the federal state Baden-Wuerttemberg.
Under sponsorship of the state’s music council (Landesmusikrat), it unites the best young accordionists of the country. Many of its members are winners of national and international competitions.
The orchestra’s approximately 30 members are between 16 and 27 years of age and are chosen on a yearly basis. Conductors are also newly appointed on a yearly basis, thus setting fresh accents and keeping the orchestra at a high musical level at all times. Its repertoire is versatile and includes contemporary music written expressly for accordion as well as classical and folklore arrangements.
The ensemble proudly looks back on a history of over 30 years since its foundation in 1985 that have seen it develop into an appreciated nationally and internationally sought-after ambassador for Baden-Wuerttemberg and its cultural landscape. An illustrated book, published with support from the music council for the orchestra’s 25th anniversary, documents its activities in those years. Besides the ensemble’s quality CD recordings and repeated appearances on national and international broadcast and television, the book particularly emphasises the orchestra’s world-wide tours. Since 1985, the ALJO/BW has performed on all five continents and toured in European neighbouring countries as well as Brazil, China, on the Fiji Islands, in Latvia, Lithuania, Canada, Moldova, Namibia, New Zealand, the US, Russia, Sweden, Serbia, Slovenia, South Africa, Ukraine and Belarus.
State Youth Accordion Orchestra Bavaria
Bavaria’s State Youth Accordion Orchestra considers itself as a supporting measure of Bavaria’s national association within the German Harmonica Association for young orchestra musicians of its member associations who would like to gain insight into current accordion literature and its performance in cooperation with renowned conductors. A new rehearsal cycle is advertised each year, and conductors also are appointed yearly.
27 years after its foundation, Bavaria’s State Youth Accordion Orchestra looks back on numerous concerts as well as tours in countries such as Australia, Russia, Brazil, and in many European neighbour countries.
The promotional association of the State Youth Accordion Orchestra Bavaria has the objective of facilitating financial support for the orchestra’s varied activities: subsidies for tours and rehearsal phases as well as joint excursions and activities are granted in order to limit financial strain on the talented young musicians. In addition to that, the association provides instruments and concert attire to match the orchestra’s high musical standards.
State Accordion Orchestra Berlin
The State Accordion Orchestra Berlin was first founded in the early 1980s; it lay dormant for a few years and was then revived by Horst W. Froehlich in 1989. Froehlich successfully led the orchestra until his sudden death in spring 2003, which came as a shock to everyone.
Since then, the orchestra has been appointing new top conductors chosen from Germany’s accordion scene on a yearly basis. They lead the orchestra from strength to strength, particularly in performances of demanding original compositions as well as arrangements of classical works. In the 2003/2004 season, the orchestra was led by Stefan Hippe, and it has been playing under the baton of Thomas Bauer since 2004/2005. The orchestra currently has 25 members: around 5 musicians playing first to fourth accordion, two electroniums, two (accordion) basses as well as percussion, including timpani. The orchestra’s members are mostly lay musicians drawn from seven resident orchestras, joined by accordion teachers. Some of the musicians even conduct their own orchestras. Rehearsals are held on weekends roughly every six weeks. The orchestra has an excellent reputation within the accordion scene, both due to its superb conductor and the immense commitment of its players that shows in regular attendance of workshops for accordion orchestra, for example.
State Youth Accordion Orchestra Brandenburg
The State Youth Accordion Orchestra Brandenburg was founded in autumn 1997. It stands under the sponsorship of Brandenburg’s music council and is based at Cottbus Conservatory; project leader is Wolfgang Schielei.
The orchestra looks to support young, extraordinarily talented accordion players between 13 and 25 years of age, and to promote and represent music for accordion within the state of Brandenburg and beyond. As the orchestra’s members come together from all around the state, rehearsals take place in the shape of rehearsal weekends three times a year. Under the direction of Volker Gerlich, the orchestra works on its extensive repertoire from Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon. Supporting the conductor in rehearsals are music educators Gudrun Block, Sarah Smith and Andreas Petschke. Besides original accordion music, the representative orchestra also plays arrangements of works by Johann Sebastian Bach and Alexander Borodin, amongst others, as well as demanding pieces of popular music.
Symphonic Accordion Orchestra Hesse
The Symphonic Accordion Orchestra Hesse (SAkkOH) was founded in 2013 by musicians of the State Accordion Orchestra Hesse with the aim of opening the orchestra to interested players in general, in order to maintain and preferably further develop its high musical standard.
The orchestra is led by Thomas Bauer, one of the internationally most acclaimed conductors for accordion orchestras. Bauer and the currently 42 players have made it their objective to develop new audiences for the instrument. Increasing audience numbers – three concerts in 2011 attracted over 2,000 visitors – endorse the chosen path of increased professionalism.
The formation made up of musicians from across Hesse (and beyond) was founded in October 2000 and has since developed an attractive programme with its leader Wolfgang Russ.
A-TRAIN is a live band with repertoire ranging from jazz standards and rock classics to swing, pop and Latin highlights. Its sophisticated arrangements, especially written for the band by Wolfgang Russ, bring a unique sound to the stage. The big band A-TRAIN’s sonic image is completed by vocal numbers and virtuosic improvisations of its various instrumental soloists. The sound of 30 accordions is carried by a groovy rhythm section of drums, bass, guitar, piano and percussion.
ACCOLAGE, the accordion orchestra of Lower Saxony, is a national representative orchestra under the sponsorship of the German Harmonica Association. Its members come from all across Lower Saxony and meet up for monthly rehearsal weekends in youth hostels across the state. In these intense rehearsal phases, the ensemble works on many newly published and demanding pieces, both arrangements as well as original compositions for accordion orchestra, enabling members to pass on the new literature to their home orchestras. This is an important objective of the orchestra, complementing activities of committed accordionists in their home ensembles.
The national ensemble of the German Harmonica Association (Deutscher Harmonika-Verband, DHV), led by Ralf Schwarzien, brings together and supports talented accordion players from all of Lower Saxony. Its approximately 25 members meet in monthly rehearsal weekends in youth hostels across the state. One of this representative orchestra’s main objectives is to maintain and develop the high standard of music for accordion orchestra in Lower Saxony. The state orchestra pays particular attention to nurturing and increasing the public image of the accordion by performances and concerts. Development of accordion music is sought by commissioning and premièring new and high-quality pieces specifically written for the instrument.
State Accordion Orchestra Rhineland-Palatinate
The State Accordion Orchestra Rhineland-Palatinate was founded in 1986 and has since gone through two phases as State Accordion Youth Orchestra from 1986-2009, and as State Accordion Orchestra from 2010-2015, most recently focusing on works by Wuerthner. In 2017, the State Accordion Orchestra returned with a new line-up in which a few players of the previous formation were joined by new musicians from the State Accordion Youth Orchestra as well as other ensembles. The orchestra now comprises 20 players and is led by Essen-based conductor Rolf Donner.
For the project year 2017, the orchestra was able to enlist Matthias Matzke and Leonie Kratz. The new formation’s goal for 2017 was a sophisticated audio recording at the end of the rehearsal phase as well as a potential performance. In the long run, the LAO is looking to redevelop a certain sparkle for accordion associations in the state and increase its appeal with a varied repertoire.
State Accordion Youth Orchestra Rhineland-Palatinate
In 2011, the DHV State Association Rhineland-Palatinate founded a State Accordion Student Orchestra. It was renamed State Accordion Youth Orchestra in 2015, accounting for demographic changes of its members.
The orchestra is led by Michael Wagner from Wissen. Michael Wagner was born in Wissen/Sieg in 1961. From 1983-1987 he studied accordion at the Hohner Conservatory in Trossingen et. al., composition with Brent McCall, concert organ and popular music with Hans-Guenther Koelz, conducting with Karl Perenthaler and Fritz Dobler as well as solo accordion with Silvia Wencke.
He has been a full-time teacher at the district music school Altenkirchen since 1987 and has been leading and building accordion orchestras (2007 and 2010 in Innsbruck, rated outstanding), ensemble, quartet and student orchestra at the music school.
State Orchestra Saarland
After a longer pause, the Saarland Accordion Association has once again been successfully operating a state orchestra since 2004. Until 2015, state conductor Alexander Flory stood at its helm; in January 2016, Thomas Bauer took over the lead of this project orchestra, which gave its first performance under its new conductor in October 2016.
State Accordion Ensemble Saxony-Anhalt
The history of the State Accordion Ensemble Saxony-Anhalt began 20 years ago: particularly talented accordion players – winners of competitions such as “Jugend musiziert” and “Deutscher Akkordeon-Musikpreis” – were meant to study demanding original music for accordion orchestra in a representative orchestra.
Since its foundation, more than 120 members have played in this orchestra sponsored by the National Association of Music Schools Saxony-Anhalt. Some of those players are now nationally and internationally sought-after performers, such as Susanne Stock, who was leader of the orchestra when it was founded, and Valentin Butt, who made a name for himself as a multi-talent and film composer in recent years. LAESA’s most popular member is probably Yvonne Gruenwald, who represented Germany in the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 with her band ELAIZA.
First and foremost, it is the orchestra’s dynamic and colourful sound imagery, along with outstanding performances of contemporary composers, that brings audiences to their feet time and again.
Highlights of the ensemble’s work so far include tours in Japan, Croatia, Hungary and Switzerland, prizes in national competitions for representative orchestras a well as projects with renowned musicians and composers.
In its anniversary year, the orchestra’s concert programme includes Gustav Holst’s St Paul’s Suite for string orchestra, the Czech composer Jindřich Feld’s Partita piccolo and Fantasie (2016) by Lutz Stark – who has been artistic director and conductor since the ensemble’s foundation in 1996 and dedicated his most recent work to the State Accordion Ensemble Saxony-Anhalt. The programme is complemented by music everyone knows – a medley from Fiddler on the Roof (Anatevka), for example, the successful and award-winning musical by Jerry Bock after Scholem Alejchem’s novel Tevye the Dairyman.
Immerse yourself in the soundscapes of the accordion in its unique diversity.
State Accordion Orchestra Thuringia
The State Accordion Orchestra Thuringia is a union orchestra made up from Thuringian accordion orchestras Erfurt, Jena and Altenburg. The orchestra meets for rehearsal weekends, where it prepares its concert projects. The biennial Christmas concerts in Jena and Altenburg have proven to be major attractions.
The State Accordion Orchestra primarily performs sophisticated entertainment music and arrangements of music from the Baroque to the modern era.
In its concerts, the orchestra also collaborates with different soloists and choirs. In 2014, the State Accordion Orchestra Thuringia celebrated its 20th anniversary with a tour to Senftenberg.