Accordionist from Greece continues rich musical exchange
By Bonnie Blankinship
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 and Finland. He studied the classical accordion at the Royal Danish Academy of Music and the University of Macedonia, as well as musicology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the University of Helsinki. He also received a degree in accordion and a diploma in piano from the Municipal Conservatory of Kavala, his hometown.
Already, at age 36, he has achieved much in his career. Performances of his have been broadcast live by the National Danish Radio and the Greek National Radio and Television. He has won several national accordion and young musicians’ competitions and often collaborates with the Greek Composers Union, the Onassis Cultural Centre, the Contemporary Music Lab of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, a growing organization that presents seminars and concerts focused on contemporary music, and the Contra Tempo Chamber Orchestra, among others.
Apart from the world of classical and contemporary music, Andreoglou is interested in music for theater and dance, jazz and improvisation. He has composed and performed music for original theater and dance productions, collaborating with the theatrical team Kunst and the National Theatre of Northern Greece. He also performs with the Grigoris Simadopoulos Jazz Trio.
Now he is eager to explore the possibilities at BGSU and grateful for all the help he received in making the transition to his first time in the United States. “The warm welcome I got made me feel at home very quickly,” he said. Lillios, interim associate dean of the College of Musical Arts, along with the secretarial staff arranged office space and the University provided housing, the students and faculty gave him a little welcome reception, and students will help set up the recital hall for his Feb. 7 performance.
In turn, “we’re thrilled that Panagiotis has joined our creative community this semester and we look forward to working with him,” Lillios said. “Building these relationships is Fulbright’s mission, and BGSU’s ongoing involvement with sending Fulbright recipients abroad and hosting scholars here on campus helps build cultural bridges that benefit all of us.”