Accordion Music Week is an international celebration of all things accordion. For one week only, outstanding artists from around the world come together to create and perform groundbreaking contemporary and classical music, cutting through barriers with pioneering performances – often in the most unexpected venues – across the beautiful city of Vilnius.
Accordion Music Week invites you think differently – not just about the accordion, but about the way you enjoy music.
Challenge your perceptions with dynamic new works from contemporary composers. Discover new ideas and new musical directions. Experience the accordion as you’ve never heard it before.
We’re inspiring the evolution of the accordion – and we want you to be a part of it.
The Accordion Marathon is a unique tradition of the festival that has quickly become a firm favourite with the accordion community here in Lithuania.
This free event gives musicians from across the country the opportunity to perform on stage in front of an audience of accordion lovers in the stunning setting of 17th-century St. Catherine’s church in Vilnius.
Accordionists of any age or experience are welcomed, and the event gives young players the opportunity to have their talent recognised by a wider public. So come along – you might spot an accordion star of the future!
Accordion Music Week was founded in 2012 by internationally acclaimed accordionist Martynas Levickis, with the aim of introducing a new generation of listeners to the accordion by providing a platform for outstanding performers, innovative music and unconventional ideas – beginning with a groundbreaking programme of modern music in 2013.
Since then, the festival has gone from strength to strength, attracting audiences in their thousands and breaking performance records with its annual accordion marathon in 2014.
Since 2016, Accordion Music Week has taken the pioneering step of presenting its programme in new and exciting contexts, with venues ranging from a railway station waiting room to a market hall and even the city zoo!
Accordion Music Week continues to evolve in 2018 with its most imaginative and ambitious programme yet. This year, we welcome the festival debut of a melodica duo from the USA, and our youngest-ever performer at just 13 years old!
Martynas Levickis got his first accordion at the age of 3 – a present from his godfather, a sculptor, who sensed the young Martynas’ artistic talent.
Instantly hooked, Martynas spent every spare moment teaching himself to play. So when he began taking lessons at the age of 8, the idea of following ‘the rules’ came as a bit of a shock.
With dedication and an inspiring teacher – Martynas fondly remembers spending summers practising at her home as she picked vegetables in the garden – his talent blossomed.
International recognition came at the age of 13, when Martynas won first prize in his category at the Stefano Bizzarri competition in Italy – his first trip outside his native Lithuania. More prizes followed, culminating in him being awarded Accordion World Champion in 2010.
That year, Martynas also came to prominence at home in Lithuania after winning first prize in the TV show “Lithuania’s Got Talent”.
Along with increasing international acclaim came a move abroad. Studying at the Royal Academy of Music in London, Martynas enthusiastically explored the accordion’s potential with new music and compositions not traditionally associated with the instrument.
Now an Associate of the Royal Academy, Martynas is a familiar figure on the world stage. He has played at London’s Royal Albert Hall and Royal Festival Hall, as well as prestigious international venues such as Berlin’s Konzerthaus, where in February 2018 he premiered a specially commissioned work by Rūta Vitkauskaitė, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Lithuanian independence.
As Artistic Director of Accordion Music Week since its inception in 2012, Martynas has dedicated himself to fulfilling his lifelong mission to transform public perceptions of the instrument and its music, and explore dynamic and innovative new music for the accordion and its related family of instruments. That mission continues today.
“When we decided to create a visual identity for Accordion Music Week, I immediately said I didn’t want any buttons, keys or bellows,” says the festival’s artistic director, Martynas Levickis. “That’s what you’ll find representing every accordion music festival in the world.”
“Instead, I wanted to create an inspirational description of what an accordion is. The text focused on the air – because that’s the driving force of the instrument,” explains Martynas. “When you look at an accordion, everything appears complicated and mechanical. But the instrument’s life – its voice – is created by the air that passes through it. And the individual sound of each accordionist depends on the way they control that air.”
When you look at an accordion, everything appears complicated and mechanical. But the instrument’s life – its voice – is created by the air that passes through it. And the individual sound of each accordionist depends on the way they control that air.
“From that point on, we were ‘in the air’”, says Ignas Kozlovas, creative director of Folk, the agency tasked with designing the visual identity. “Air comes and goes invisibly – what we needed was some way to capture that movement visually. When we explained our idea to Martynas, his face was more eloquent than any words. The room lit up. We knew we had to do it.”
The photo shoot took place at the Vilnius Arts Printing House. Light-emitting diodes were attached to Martynas’s accordion, and long exposures used to create a ‘light drawing’ of the air that flowed as Martynas performed an expressive rendition of the Lithuanian folk song “The dawn is breaking”. Each time Martynas played the piece, it acquired a new and different visual form. In all, 10 versions of the design were created.