2020

JUDGES

Kevin Solecki

Kevin was born and raised in Warren, Michigan.  He started taking accordion lessons at the age of 6. At the age of 17, he joined a nationally known polka band from Pennsylvania, the Polka Family Band.  After several extensive months of traveling the country with this band, Kevin decided to relocate to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he currently resides.

 

In 2005 Kevin recorded and released "Solecktions”, an album consisting of different styles of polka and waltz from around the world.  “Solecktions” was nominated for a Grammy Award during the 2005-2006 season.  Kevin has also released “Solecktive Sounds” and “Romantic Melodies”.


Solecki’s career highlights include performances on some of the world’s top cruise ships, a PBS Television documentary on the polka, a GRAMMY nomination for his debut album "Solecktions" followed by multiple visits to the GRAMMY Awards since, performances at some of the nation’s top Accordion Conventions, and a personal invitation from Harry Connick Jr. to help him perform at Pittsburgh’s historic Heinz Hall in June 2013.

Emmanuel Gasser 

The 23 years old award-winning accordionist Emmanuel Gasser lives in St. Charles, Ontario, Canada. He fascinated audiences everywhere, since the age of nine with his breathtaking performances. He is recognized as one of the best young accordionists in North America, winning numerous trophies and awards in many North American and International competitions, as well as representing Canada at the Coupe Mondiale, Trophée Mondiale, FIF Castelfidardo, IAWK Germany and IAC Switzerland. Recent awards include, First Place in the Carmen Carozza International Memorial Competition and First Place in the International Elsie Bennett Composition Competition hosted by the American Accordionists' Association with his compositions in 2016 and 2017. More recently, Emmanuel performed with Switzerland's best folkloric musicians during the famous Heirassa Festival and on National TV. He has also further developed his skills as a church organist and singer.  Emmanuel has exceptional musical maturity, having composed over 50 original pieces. In the past he has studied with several world champion accordionists, especially with the late Alexander Sevastian. Emmanuel plans to further develop a career as composer and performer; performing solo, with ensembles and orchestras.

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