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Accordion player marks 40 years performing at Folklorama

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Folklorama’s Casa do Minho is marking its 40th anniversary this year, and one performer has been sharing his gift every step of the way.

John Marques, president of the general assembly for the Casa do Minho Portuguese Centre, has been playing the accordion at the pavilion since 1983. He said it all began when a friend of his father was looking for musicians to play for Folklorama.

“There was an opportunity for us to play and represent our culture and I thought that was a unique opportunity for us,” he said, referring to his first time playing at the event.

“After that I never looked back and just continued on from there.”

Marques said in the earlier days of Folklorama he played a piano accordion, but eventually transitioned to a concertina.

“This is a typical accordion or a typical instrument that’s currently represented in northern Portugal, especially in the province of Minho,” he explained.

“The concertina is a very popular instrument. It’s used in every dance group.”

Marques described Portuguese music as lively and festive. He added that there are some slower songs, but it’s typically more geared towards dancing, which visitors can see at the pavilion.

“If you do visit our pavilion, you’ll see our dancers. It’s all very lively dances. A lot of intricate foot movement, leg movement and then the arms are always positioned high to demonstrate, ‘Hey, look at my feet and look what I can do with them,’” he said.

Marques said every year the volunteers work hard to find new ways to be creative and bring visitors to the pavilion.

Those who stop by this year can expect to experience the cultural heritage of Minho through traditional food, music and dancing.

“We have a lot of families who are committed to the Portuguese culture and to Casa do Minho,” Marques said.

“We’re fortunate that for the most part, there’s a strong core that comes back every year.”

He added that when visitors come to the pavilion, they can feel the passion.

“People are proud of their culture. People are proud of what they’re doing, what they’re representing and they’re enjoying performing and putting this out to the community at large,” Marques said.

A full list of the pavilions running the second week of the festival can be found online. 

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