Kazakh Accordion World Champion Concludes European Tour Displaying Local School Mastery

ASTANA – Kazakh accordionist Olzhas Nurlanov mesmerized the European audience with his profound performances during his September concerts in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Germany, reported NF media.

As the winner of the 2021 world champion title among accordionists, Nurlanov was invited to perform at this year’s Coupe Mondiale international competition. Photo credit: NF media

Nurlanov holds the 2021 world champion title among accordionists. As the winner of the 74th Coupe Mondiale international competition, he was invited to Bosnia and Herzegovina for a solo concert in Bijeljina and to perform with the president of the International Association of Accordionists Mirco Patarini and former world champions in Ugljevik.

Nurlanov’s remarkable artistry and technical prowess have enabled him to broaden the accordion’s range and repertoire, incorporating Kazakh traditional music such as Kurmangazy’s “Adai” and Nagim Mendygaliev’s “Poem-Legend of Dombra.” 

His program also featured classical pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach, Domenico Scarlatti, Modest Mussorgsky, Camille Saint-Saëns, and Robert Schumann. He also performed works by Vladislav Zolotaryov and Alexander Kholminov, both of whom composed original music for the accordion.

Nurlanov’s skills also impressed Milan Tomic, a famous musician and the organizer of the annual accordion festival, who invited him to perform three concerts in the Serbian cities of Kragujevac, Valjevo, and Kraljevo.

After Serbia, Nurlanov traveled to Italy to participate in one of the most prestigious international competitions for accordionists, the 48th edition of the PIF Castelfidardo.

Olzhas Nurlanov performing at the 48th edition of the PIF Castelfidardo. Photo credit: PIF Castelfidardo facebook

This year, 20 finalists from around the world performed live for the judges, including two solo performances and one with an orchestra. Nurlanov won the second prize.

While in Italy, Nurlanov was invited to the famed Beltuna factory, which creates unique electronic accordions that can emulate the sound of a one-man orchestra.

“It was a great honor for me to be invited to the presentation of a new model of the accordion, which has already become a sensation in the world of music. This is a truly historic event, as the new instrument opens up colossal opportunities for performers,” said Nurlanov, who performed his signature “Adai” by Kurmangazy on a Beltuna accordion.

While traditional accordions typically have around 15 sound registers, Beltuna’s innovative design boasts over a hundred. This vast range allows for music with a richer sonic texture and the crafting of compositions that are uniquely tailored to this instrument.

Nurlanov concluded his tour with solo concerts in the German cities of Heppenheim and Langenzenn.

Since 1938, the annual Coupe Mondiale competition has featured the genre’s finest accordionists competing for the world title. Kazakh artists are taking part in the competition for the third year in a row. This year, the Kazakh accordionist, Tanbol Yerlik, achieved seventh place.

“I was very pleased that Kazakh musicians were involved in this year’s competition. Samgar Tolkynkhan, a lecturer of KazNUA [Kazakh National University of Arts], was invited to the jury of the senior category,” said Nurlanov, whose triumph in the 2021 competition served as an inspiration for artists from Kazakhstan.

“In general, Kazakhstan today is quite clearly visible on the map of world accordion art. All major competitions and festivals know about our school and our participants are always welcomed there, with an understanding of the high level of their preparation,” he added.

It is not just a matter of technique, according to Nurlanov. It is the artistry, the soul and an individual style that make a genius performer.

“What makes our school so different from many others is that the emphasis in teaching is not on a mechanical, polished style of playing. Starting with my father, my first teacher, the masters have always demanded emotion and individuality in the performance of any piece,” said Nurlanov. 

Global trends may evolve over time, but Kazakh musicians stick to their school, he noted. 

“We are valued and respected on big stages precisely for our ability to open to the audience the world of music as we feel it, to reveal our souls at every concert. I am pleased to observe that the level of Kazakh accordion school today is actively developing in all directions,” added Nurlanov.

In 2024, Nurlanov plans to tour several countries, including Switzerland, Germany and Serbia. Additionally, he is in discussions for a potential tour in China.

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