Fifi la Mer releases two new CDs

Fifi la Mer Vol 1 and Vol 2

Two new albums – Oh la la!

Live at Zedel regular Fifi la Mer has released two wonderfully entertaining new albums. Her appealing vocals which convey a wonderful quality of almost childlike innocence but one shouldn’t be fooled by that because many of her lyrics contain cheeky and humorous twists. Fifi, accompanies herself on accordion and credits herself for whistling too (one can almost hear her chuckling at the the delight of this skill!) in this appealing and often humorous take on many French chansons and Standards across both two fun albums. She is aided and abetted by some truly wonderful musicians. Colin Oxley on Guitar, Julian Bury on Double Bass and Tenor Sax, Alex Garnett on Clarinet, Tenor sax, and vocals, and Olly Wilby on Clarinet and Tenor Sax.  The songs are all arranged by either Fifi la Mer or members of the ensemble.They’re are the kind of albums that really make one smile. Particularly worthy of note are duets with Alex Garnett also singing inYes, Sir that’s my baby (Vol. 1) which also has a cracking bowed bass solo by Julian Bury, and the sultry Gee baby, ain’t I good to you (Vol. 2 -click here for video link) which also has some lovely Saxophone playing by Olly Wilby.  Then there are also the delightful solo songs Les Champs-Elysee (Vol.1 _click here for video link) and the fabulous Serge Gainsbourg song and my personal favourite Comment te dire adieu.The two albums are also peppered with instrumentals.

The albums are entitled Oh la la Ensemble Volume 1 and Oh la la Ensemble Volume 2 and are available separately at £12.00 each or they can be bought as a special package of 2 for £20 – a saving £4!

Nuevo Tango Quintet with Qianyu Zhang on Accordion Friday May 3rd 2019 David Josefowitz Hall, Royal Academy of Music

Tango Nuevo Quintet

A “new” Tango Ensemble at the Royal Academy of Music

Friday May 3rd 2019 David Josefowitz Hall, Royal Academy of Music, 19.00 – 20-00

FREE – No Tickets Required

The Nuevo Tango Quintet invites you on a journey through the streets of Buenos Aires to explore an exciting programme of Piazzolla’s music including:

The Angel Series – Milonga del Ángel; Muerte del Ángel; Resurrección del Ángel
The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires – Primavera Porteña; Verano Porteño; Otoño Porteño; Invierno Porteño

Violin – Rebecca Bell
Accordion – Qianyu Zhang
Guitar – Plinio Fernandes
Piano – Gus Tredwell
Double Bass – Rhys Lovell

The Nuevo Tango Quintet are incredibly excited to be bringing this music to the Academy and can’t wait to share it with you. This will be a really special evening for them and they would love to see as many of you as possible there! It goes without saying that you are invited to join them for a drink (or ten) afterwards…

Giancarlo Palena – RAM Erasmus Student-Concert Petite Messe Solennelle-St Andrews Church-Holborn London April 5th 2019

Giancarlo Palena

Giancarlo Palena wins 1st Prize in the Sir Karl Jenkins Award

Giancarlo Palena was studying at the Royal Academy of Music on an Erasmus until the end of February this year.  He entered the 5th edition of “The Arts Club – Sir Karl Jenkins Music Award in association with Classic FM 2019”: the panel, chaired by Sir Karl Jenkins, comprised music educationalist, Carol Barratt, chairman of City Music Society, Leslie East, Classic FM presenter, Catherine Bott, managing director of Decca Classical Label Group, Dr. Alexander Buhr and harpist, Catrin Finch, as they seek the most talented instrumentalist in the UK, aged between 18-25. There were 12 candidates selected through a pre-selection for the semifinals held on 23rd March, than just 6 candidates were admitted to the final on 30th March. Both events were at The Arts Club, 40 Dover Street, London, W1S 4NP. A piece from the winner’s competition repertoire as well as a short work especially composed by Karl, will be recorded in a London studio and subsequently broadcast on Classic FM. The panel of judges selected a winner based upon technique, individualism, communication and future potential. How wonderful that an accordionist has won that prize and will now have a composition written for him by Sir Karl Jenkins. Many congratulations to Giancarlo Palena.

You can hear Palena playing in a performance of Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle on April 5th

Friday 5 April 2019 7.30pm St Andrew’s Holborn, London.

M° Paul Ayres conducts City Chorus, performing Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle. 

Gioacchino Rossini’s last great masterpiece has moments of radiance and uninhibited joy but also a darker side hinting at death as the extinction of meaning. It is music of the soul which speaks directly to every member of the audience and all will enjoy the creativity and craftsmanship displayed in the work.

City Chorus concerts are famously convivial: full of family, friends and supporters of the choir. Our concerts always also feature professional musicians. This concert features: Giancarlo Palena (accordion), Philip Shannon (piano), four other soloists and six choral scholars, conducted by Paul Ayres.

For more information and tickets:

London Accordion Orchestra – 18th May 2019 – LAO Gala Concert, Sacred Heart Church, Wimbledon, London

LAO -20th Anniversary

London Accordion Orchestra presents ‘Out Of This World’ a Gala Concert to celebrate its 20th Anniversary.

Date And Time

Sat, 18 May 2019  15:00 PM – 17:30 PM BST  Sacred Heart Church, Edge Hill, London, SW19 4LU

London Accordion Orchestra celebrate their 20th anniversary year with a very special Gala Concert at the incredible Sacred Heart Church in Wimbledon. The program will include Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin with concert pianist Giles Kennedy, the ever popular Toccata by Widor with organist Robert Rathbone and the World Premiere of Black Mountain by LAO Conductor Ian Watson. We will be joined by a choir in a dramatic reworking of Jupiter from the Planets and Violin and Cello for the LAO favourite ‘Danzon No. 2’ by Marquez. This and much more to be confirmed. Catering will be by the award winning Gingham Hearts in a special Marquee in the Church grounds. Tickets for this concert are expected to sell out so do book early.

An Afternoon at the Musicals – Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden, Essex. Sunday 31st March with Romano Viazzani on accordion

Saffron Hall

Spend Mother’s Day hearing great numbers from the Musicals with stars of the West End Stage and Opera

Sunday 31st March at 16.00

Celebrate Mother’s Day in style! Stars from West End musicals including Les Misérables and Phantom of the Opera come together for an array of songs and duets, bridging time and the worlds of jazz and musicals. Featuring your favourite tunes from classic musicals such as West Side StoryKiss Me KateCarouselSouth Pacific and many more. Come and enjoy a teatime treat for all the family!

Saffron Hall
Audley End Road
Saffron Walden
CB11 4UH

Tickets £14-£30:

Box Office: 0845 548 7650


Joanna Strand vocals
Jacqui Tate vocals
Luke McCall vocals
Stephan Ulberini vocals
John Bailey pianoy
Phoebe Snelling violin
Jason Reeve drums
Richard Sadler double bass
Romano Viazzani accordion
Frank Walden saxophon
James Brady trumpet
Luke McCall
Jacqui Tate Joanna StrandStephan Ulberini

A message from Bruce Triggs of Accordion Noir – New accordion book


Accordion Revolution: A People’s History of the Accordion in North America – Bruce Triggs

Bruce Triggs here from the Accordion Noir Radio show in Vancouver, Canada. I’m writing to share that I’m about to release my music history book Accordion Revolution: A People’s History of the Accordion in North America. It’s coming out in early summer, 2019, and I’m asking folks to spread the word among musicians and accordion-fans and join my new email list if they’re interested.

The book has chapters on the squeezebox in early Rock ’n’ Roll and the Folk Revival, and big sections about Jazz (especially several women jazzers from the 1940s), Ethnic Musics, African American accordion, and 150 country and western accordionists (who knew?) I think it will be an eye-opener for readers and a fun new take on a lot of different music.

If you would like to know more you can go to where you’ll see a table of contents, photos, and can sign up for email updates. I won’t add anyone to the update list without permission, so do click to sign up if you’re curious at all. It’s easy to be removed from the list if you want.

Below is a wonderful photo (not the final cover) that the son of a vaudeville player shared with me (that’s his mom on the right). The book includes at least 50 other images, it should be quite beautiful.

Accordion Showcase at the Royal Academy of Music, March 12th 2019 at 19.30

Royal Academy of Music

Accordion Showcase

It’s been a bust start to the year for the Accordion department at the Royal Academy of Music with two Master classes in the last two months and now an Accordion Showcase. It’s always wonderful to trace the student’s progress as they work their way through the years of study at the RAM under the expert tutelage of Owen Murray, as well as all the visiting professors. They always welcome audiences to their concerts as it gives them good training in concert conditions for the wider music world. Don’t miss this year’s promising you talents at this event where the Academy accordion students present a varied programme of solo and chamber music works.
Tue 12 Mar 2019, 7.30pm

TANGO! The Romano Viazzani Ensemble – Sunday Lunchtime- 10th March 2019 – artist change

Romano Viazzani Ensemble with Barbara Dziewiecka-Data and Nick Pini inset

The Romano Viazzani Ensemble at the Pizza Express Jazz Club, Soho 10th March 2019

Doors 12.00 Concert 13.30

The Romano Viazzani Ensemble has been busy preparing for their Sunday lunchtime concert.  It’s with great sadness though that they are to lose their long-time excellent double bass player Yaron Stavi and his fiancée the wonderful violinist Corinna Hentschel as they are emigrating to Germany.  Stavi was with the very first combination of the ensemble back in 2009 and he and Corinna Hentschel have been RV Ensemble stalwarts since it’s relaunch in 2016. They will be sorely missed both as musicians and as friends and the Ensemble wishes them well in their new home.

The ensemble is very lucky to secure two wonderful new permanent members in the form of Nick Pini on double bass and Barbara Dziewiecka-Data on violin who will be stepping in on March 10th.

The Ensemble will be playing Tangos by Piazzolla, Traditional Tangos and some new compositions form the Ensemble’s forthcoming album London Tango.


Romano Viazzani: Accordion

Barbara Dziewiecka-Data: Violin

Jonathan Preiss: Guitar

John Bailey: Piano

Nick Pini: Double Bass

Jacqui Tate: Vocals

Joanna Strand: Vocals


You can also enjoy some of the ensembles concert highlights from the past few years’ concerts here:


About Barbara:


Barbara Dziewięcka is a Polish violinist based in London. She graduated from Guildhall School of Music and Drama and Royal College of Music in London where she studied with Krzysztof Smietana and Itzhak Rashkovsky.

Barbara is a winner of numerous competitions including The Audience Prize at St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Music Competition in London.

Since 2010, Barbara has been regularly working with Nigel Kennedy as a member of his ‘Orchestra of Life’ and individually, including numerous tours, viola leading at 2013 BBC Proms Festival, and a Gala Concert at the Royal Albert Hall with special guests Jean-Luc Ponty and Robert Plant. She also appears on Kennedy’s album ‘Recital’ recorded in Abbey Road for Sony Classical.

As a violinist in a Latin-American group called Classico Latino, Barbara performed in Colombia, including concerts in Teatro Mayor and Teatro Libre, and also recently recorded an album called “Havana Classics”, in legendary Egrem Studios in Havana, Cuba.

As an orchestral player, Barbara works with various British orchestras, to include Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Concert Orchestra, Heritage Orchestra, and others. She has been privileged to work with such artists as Valery Giergiev, Marta Argerich, Maxim Vengerov, Jonas Kaufmann, Rene Fleming, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Semyon Bychkov, John Elliot Gardiner and others.

Barbara also enjoys other music genres, and she recently performed with Quincy Jones, at the O2 arena in London.

Barbara is a passionate chamber musician. She co-founded the The Ultimate Tango Project and recorded a CD with Astor Piazzolla’s music in new arrangements with an innovative approach to interpretation.

About Nick Pini:

Nicholas Pini is the black sheep of the Pini family musical dynasty, wandering off-piste at an early age to explore different genres of music. After studying jazz performance at Trinity College of Music he has continued to enjoy a career playing and arranging for many different artists, from Folk/Americana artists such as Laura Marling, Ethan Johns and Nick Mulvey to Jazz musicians Jonathon Gee and Will Butterworth as well as MD’ing for Broadway singer Ramin Karimloo with his Broadgrass project.

Nick Pini

Nick Pini

Accordionist Ben de Souza – upcoming concert dates 2019

Ben de Souza

RAM graduate Ben manages to continue his studies and concert career

After graduating from the Royal Academy of Music last year, accordionist Ben de Souza is studying choral conducting at Clare Hall, Cambridge this year.  He is managing to continue playing concerts and study his conducting simultaneously which is both impressive and very welcome to all those who want to see the accordion played across many musical genres. Here are some of his upcoming dates with more to be announced soon.


– Tuesday 16th April, 7:30pm – Cambridge Accordion Club, Horningsea Village Hall, CB25 9JG

– Wednesday 8th May, 1:20pm – Raleigh Society Recital Series, Newnham College, Cambridge, CB3 9DF

– Sunday 9th June, 1pm – The Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace, KT8 9AU


Duo with violinist Chloë Meade:

– Saturday 28th September, 7:30pm – Salisbury Chamber Music Club, United Reformed Church, Fisherton Street, Salisbury, SP2 7RG. Tickets available on the door.



Emmy Dumitru successfully accepted at the Royal Academy of Music

Emmy Dumitru

London-based accordionist Emmy Dumitru secures place at RAM

Many congratulations to Emmy Dumitru for successfully auditioning for the Royal Academy of Music’s accordion department.  He has been studying with Romano Viazzani for a year and half and will start his studies at the RAM next September under the expert tutelage of Owen Murray.  Emmy has been busy studying free-bass accordion which until a year or so ago he did not play.  Hard work has paid off and Emmy managed to learn the classical accordion alongside preparing his classical pieces for standard bass accordion which he played extremely well managing to master over 11 extremely challenging pieces for that instrument in under a year in preparation for his audition. ZZ Music wishes him well on his new adventure at the RAM secure in the knowledge that his work rate and talent will not let him down.