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Accordion - Charoula Tsalpara
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Dates: 8-14 July


The accordion, its role and evolution in the popular music of the mainly urban Greek scene throughout the first half of the 20th century.

The accordion was introduced to the Eastern Mediterranean and the Balkan Peninsula during mid-to-late 19th century, just like other instruments with Central-European roots that adapted to the specific style of popular music of each region. It was widely used as a simple, light, useful, functional instrument that was easy to carry around. It came in very handy for popular music performers, giving them more autonomy to sing and play anywhere. The goal of this seminar is to shed light on this popular usage of the instrument, on its repertoire and its evolution. We will focus on the period between the earliest days of discography, as it was already in vogue when the first 78 RPM platters were recorded, until the 1950s, when it was almost completely outplayed by the electric organ. This seminar is destined for both beginners and professional accordionists who feel love for, or are at least fascinated by the unique way of playing the accordion in this small part of the world.

The seminar will last for 7 days, 21 hours in total, or 3 hours per day. The first day will include a concise theoretical introduction, while every day will include a composition study (speed, rhythm, accompaniment, taximi)* of a different piece of popular music, chosen from the rich repertoire of Greek accordion recordings.  In more detail:

Sunday July 8: Meet and greet. Theoretical part: Historical, political and social framework of the first half of the 20th century. The accordion within this framework and the differentiation of its role in the works of the composers of popular music from Asia Minor. The instrument, and the people - soloists.  
A small presentation of the pieces of music and their characteristics which will be studied.

Monday July 9: Mangiko hasapiko

Tuesday July 10: Servikaki alaniko

Wednesday July 11: Plakiotiko zeibekiko

Thursday July 12: Politiko syrto

Friday July 13: song of choice

Saturday July 14: epilogue – rehearsal – live performance(?)


(*)Each day will include a different piece of music, which will enable us to practice the speed, rhythmology, accompaniment and improvisation in a cross-curricular way, using the instrument’s live repertoire. Teaching of these musical works will happen both by the study of the recordings and by playing them during seminar hours. The scores of these pieces of music, as well as some sound samples, will be sent to the interested before the beginning of the seminar, as a means of introduction.



Haroula Tsalpara was born in Athens. Her kindergarten music teacher encouraged her to go to the Filippos Nakas Conservatory.  At the age of seven, she started taking piano lessons at the Athens Conservatory (class of Mr Giannis Michailidis), while also studying music theory, solfège and dictée (class of Mrs Kyriaki Tsolaki).

In 2004, she enrolled in the Athens University Department of Music Studies as one of the ten best candidates. In 2005, she took more piano lessons at the Orfeio Conservatory of Athens with Mr Mihailidis, while finishing her studies of Instrument Making, Music History, Choir, Musical Morphology, Chamber Music and Practical Musicianship. In that same year, she took a music-therapy seminar (Nordoff-Robbins method) with Maria Froudaki after which she decided to work as a volunteer with the music-therapy team at PIPKA in Athens (Voula) for one year.

In 2008, she got a degree in Harmony at the Greek Conservatory (class of E. Tserachi), while continuing to pursue her advanced theoretical studies. Two years later, in 2010, she obtained a degree in Counterpoint summa cum laude. She graduated from the Department of Music Studies that same year, while in 2011, she finished her piano studies, obtaining the summa cum laude degree from the Orfeio Conservatory of Athens (class of Mr G. Michailidis). During her undergraduate studies, she also took a community-music seminar with Dr Christina Anagnostopoulou, the practical part of which was a one-year team internship at the Iliotropio Mental Health Centre.

In 2005 she started playing popular and traditional music in Greek. In 2007 she discovered Eastern Mediterranean music, and more specifically, the 78 RPM recordings from the Interbellum. In 2013, she started playing the accordion, her first teacher being Andreas Tsekouras, followed by Iraklis Vavatsikas.

She has been a member of: HiPsi 78rpm (2007-2011), Mousiki Avli - Mousiki Avli-Smyrne (Athenaeum Kelari, 2012-2013), Smyrna (2014), Romvia (2014-), Loukoum Trio (2015), Bam (2016-), Banda Iovanica (2015-).

She has contributed to the following theatrical performances: ‘Marika’ (2015), ‘Nous sommes pareils à ces crapauds’ (2016- Cie Les Mains Les Pieds et La Tête Aussi), ‘I Kores’ (2017, with theatre group Bijoux de kant as a part of the Athens Festival), ‘Bolivar’ (2018, with Bijoux de Kant), ‘Zoi In Afti Zoitsa Mou’ (2018, with Bijoux de Kant).

She was a teacher at the Syros accordion festival in 2017 and at the Musical Yards in Ikaria in 2018.
Along with Rena Strouliou, she also did a collaborative workshop at Mousikes Istories in 2017.

She has done many book presentations and performed at countless concerts and parties.

Since 2011, she has been working steadily as a singer and musician (baglamas, accordion, piano) at various bars, taverns and clubs, a fact that has contributed a lot to her knowledge of popular Greek music. Since 2013, while all these popular and folk melodies were flowing through her body, she has been studying and experimenting on the piano, in an effort to search for the role of the piano as a balancer between the East and the West. This quest is still going on today and it will probably never end. The ‘experiment’ is called PianOLAternΑ, between 2014 and 2018 at noon on Saturdays at Ouzeri Lesvos, the only ouzeri with a piano, and now in 2019 at ‘Thessalo’ in Votanikos.

She has worked with many great names of the scene. Today Haroula is a member of Bam (2015-) along with Theodora Athanasiou and Glafkos Smarianakis, Banda Iovanica (2015-) with Klearchos Korkovelos, Giannis Niarchos and Glafkos Smarianakis, while also doing PianOLAterna performances and plenty of gigs at entertainment centres along with musicians who belong to this big, atypical community that has one thing in common: the love for both phonograph music and local/Eastern Mediterranean traditional music.

She speaks English very well (Proficiency obtained in 2001)

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