Violin recital stuns audience


The Northern Illinois University School of Music showcased an amazing violin and accordion recital on Wednesday night.

John Novak, music theory professor and accordionist, was joined by his long-time friend and violinist Javier Chaparro.

Those who hadn’t ever heard an accordion and violin paired together were in for a rare treat. The night seemed to focus on European folk music but contained other pieces from European musicians as well.

They started off the night with a joyful rendition of “Romanian Rhapsody No.1,” composed by George Enescu. From the first notes, the two seemed to enjoy playing together. After the happy and upbeat beginning, the duo went in the opposite direction and slowed down with “Vienna, City of My Dreams,” created by Rudolf Sieczynski. The piece foreshadowed one of the many accordion solos by Novak.

The night continued with a medley the two composed by joining the Greek folk song “Yerakina,” and the Romanian folk song “Din Plaiurile Romanei.” The latter was, by far, the piece of the night. It began with feelings of stopping and going and then suddenly jumped the beat up to a rapid feeling of joy.

The two friends felt they needed to stray from the program as they skipped three songs and played a Russian folk song called “Karabi.” The song began as a dark and heavy piece then slowly grew in pitch and pace to an enjoyable end.

After playing a few more songs out of order, the duo finished the first set with the Hungarian folk song “If You Leave Me, Don’t Return.” This three-part piece started slow, then clearly became a light and bouncy movement, as it shifted toward a fast-paced, exhilarating end movement that concluded the 45-minute set.

After a brief intermission, the dynamic pair started the second set with an Israeli folk song that featured a short beginning solo by Chaparro. The second set went on with more fantastic pairings of violin and accordion play. Unlike the first set, many of the songs in this one ended in a sudden crescendo.

Again, the two strayed from the program and skipped two songs to play a slower Yiddish lullaby, to Novak’s delight.

“I personally enjoy the sentimental music,” Novak said after the concert. “Especially after so many fast pieces, it’s a good change.”

They returned to the program and ended the night after four more exciting pieces. However, the audience and the two musicians weren’t finished yet, as they quickly came back out and performed an encore piece arranged by Chaparro. It showcased a lighthearted comedic side of the accomplished violinist as he performed well-known theme songs and catcalls with a smile on his face.

All in all, this interesting pairing of a violin and accordion led to a fantastic night of music that deserves to be played and heard again.