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Kevin Solecki 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.
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.
Creosote is the accordion duo of Jamie Maschler and Gabriel Hall-Rodrigues based out of Seattle, WA. Together they play a dynamic array of original and world music. Maschler and Rodrigues are both seasoned musicians and have individually and collectively mastered their craft of performing, composing and arranging on the accordion. Expect to hear elegant and clever arrangements of new and old Brazilian and world music.
Jamie is based in Seattle, WA where she studied accordion under three-time Latin Grammy Nominee Jovino Santos Neto at Cornish College of the Arts. Brazilian culture inspires her current projects; Seattle’s only forró band - En Canto, and accordion duo with Gabe-Hall Rodrigues - Creosote.
Gabe Hall-Rodrigues is an Arizona-native accordionist, pianist and vocalist currently residing in Seattle, WA. He began playing the piano at age 7 and quickly realized his love for music and performing. In 2010, after only studying the accordion for a year, Gabe won the American Accordionists’ Association’s Virtuoso Solo Competition.
Barry Smith is a performer, conductor, and composer who began studying both accordion and piano while in 1st grade. In 2000, Barry earned a BM in piano performance from Wheaton Conservatory of Music. He then moved to Kansas City, where he taught private music lessons at the Celebration Academy of the Arts until 2006. During this time Barry did post-graduate studies at the UMKC Conservatory of Music. He accepted the position of Music Director at Oakwood Baptist Church in 2006, as well as the position of music program director for the Discovery Homeschool Academy in 2007, where he led classes and productions for 200 children. In 2012, Barry released a CD of original compositions entitled “Variations,” and also served as an adjunct professor at Longview College, teaching music history. Throughout his music career Barry has performed both as a soloist and in duos, on both the accordion and the piano. He, his wife Angel, and their three daughters currently reside in Spokane, WA, where he serves as the founding pastor for Connection Point Church.
Cooksie Kaserzon Kramer (A.T.C.L. L.T.C.L. A.B.C.A. L.B.C.A.) is originally from South Africa. Cooksie opened and ran the largest Music Studio in Johannesburg with three Accordion Orchestras, Junior, Intermediate and Advanced. Cooksie won the South African Accordion Championship and went to New York to represent South Africa and participate in the Coupe Mondiale in 1959 (check out her You-Tube Videos). She now resides in Kirkland, WA where she teaches Piano, Accordion and Organ. She is Leader and Conductor of the Northwest Accordionaires accordion orchestra. She is also the creator and President of the Eastside Jazz Club.
Richard Noel is originally from Portland, Oregon, where he studied under Eileen Hagen, but has since lived in Bakersfield, California where he was a Professor of Psychology. He has built himself a reputation in the world of Roland digital accordions because he has taken the time on each instrument to develop extensive sets, user programs (UPGs), and various orchestrations that have become somewhat standard in the industry for these instruments (FR-1X, FR- 3X, FR-4X, FR-7X, and FR-8X). These sound files are created with taste and orchestrational sensitivity that makes them some of the most sought after sounds in the industry by a great percentage of V-accordion owners. Richard is also an excellent performer on these instruments, and has dozens of videos on YouTube demonstrating those sounds in some very creative and crafty arrangements.
Beverley Fess is a Master accordion and piano teacher from Okotoks, Alberta, Canada. Classically trained, she started playing the accordion at age 6, was teaching by age 14 and conducting by age 17. She competed extensively and has had many award-winning students and ensembles. Besides teaching and performing, Bev is the conductor of the Spokane Accordion Ensemble.
Beverley is very proud of helping develop Michael Bridge to international competition level. She has trained teachers, adjudicated at accordion music festivals, served as conductor of several accordion ensembles and orchestras, served as a music examiner, sat on the executive committees of several accordion associations and runs frequent workshops. She is a founding member and current board member of the Accordion Association of Calgary, member of numerous other accordion associations and a current board member of the ATG.
Bev has dedicated most of her life to music education and promoting the accordion. Beverley recently celebrated 50 years of accordion teaching. In recognition of her time and dedication to the instrument was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Accordions & Teachers Guild International in 2016 and was awarded the Art Van Damme Education Award at the Las Vegas International Accordion Convention also in 2016.