Trio Animato (Poland)
Harmonica ensemble Animato was created in Szczecin by Jerzy Grzesiukiewicz in 1978. Since 1992, the ensemble consists of three members who all play different harmonica instruments: Marek Jaroszyński (chromatic), Piotr Bieliński (chord harmonica) and Piotr Włodarczyk (bass harmonica). The ensemble is a laureate of Polish and international harmonica competitions. In 1996, they won the second place at the European Harmonica Festival in Trossingen, Germany. In 1997, Animato won the first prize and the title of World Champion at the World Harmonica Festival in the same city with an outstanding performance. Since then, they have not participated in harmonica competitions, but have been invited to perform as guests at various music festivals in Poland and abroad, including Estonia.
From the beginning of their activity Animato have made efforts to popularize harmonica music, presenting technical possibilities and orchestral sound of this interesting, refined instrument. In their numerous concerts at home and abroad, they have tried to show that in harmonica has almost unlimited possibilities enabling them to play successfully every kind of music. The ensemble’s repertoire includes its own arrangements of various types of music, including popular classical music pieces, jazz and swing standards, pop music world hits, as well shanties and folk music from all over the world. Animato has recorded 3 CDs of diverse music, including the latest album titled “Animato in classic”.
Japanese musicians Nami Miyata (harmonica) and Rie Matsumoto (accordion) from Tokyo met over a glass of wine in a cafe in Paris. That’s how the duo HamoAko was born in 2008. From the “Bal-Musette” parties to the “Beaujolais Nouveau” wine festivals and concerts in France and Japan, HamoAko is more than happy to present their instruments in a great sonic affinity. The duo is listed among the musicians of the Paris Metro, it is regularly invited to the major Parisian “Guingettes” and “Paris Oktoberfest”.
Gordon Lee & Helen Cha (Hong Kong)
Gordon Lee Chun-Lok
Gordon Lee is widely regarded as one of the foremost harmonicists in the world. Gordon won the championship at the 2017 World Harmonica Festival, the highest level of harmonica competition in the world, held every four years in Germany. He has been invited to perform at the Carnegie Hall in New York, the MuTh Concert Hall in Vienna, Esplanade in Singapore and International Harmonica Festival in Seoul. He has appeared as soloist with the Bursa Regional State Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra and the Asian Youth Orchestra. His repertoire includes Spivakovsky’s Concerto for Harmonica, Farnon’s Prelude and Dance for Harmonica and Orchestra, Moody’s Toledo for Harmonica and Orchestra, Lobos’s Concerto for Harmonica, Russo’s a Blues Concerto, Benjamin’ Concerto for Harmonica, among others.
Gordon Lee’s mentors include Franz Chmel, Sigmund Groven, Antonio Serreno and the two-time Grammy Award Winner Howard Levy. He also studied under Sheng master Cheng Tak-wai. Gordon has been widely praised by the local media, with one saying, “his performance makes us completely rethink our opinions about how the harmonica should be played.” Gordon’s performance integrates the greatness of Classical Music, World Music, Jazz, Blues and Pop Music. His latest 2018 CD, named Gordon Lee and his Encore Trio, received worldwide international acclaim and recognition. Gordon Lee is the founder of the Hong Kong Harmonica Academy and currently teaches at the University of Hong Kong. He is often sought after to host talks and workshops on modern harmonica techniques. He was invited to be the member of the panel of jury for the Asia Pacific Harmonica Festival, the Seoul International Harmonica Festival and the World Harmonica Festival. In 2022, Lee became the first Hong-Konger to hold a solo harmonica recital in the Hong Kong City Hall concert hall.
Pianist Helen Cha
With extraordinary talents as a pedagogue and talent scout, Cha started as a studio assistant for late Professor Nelita True and musicianship instructor at the Eastman School of Music during graduate studies, becoming a regular examiner and guest lecturer at universities from age 26, and remains a specialist in performance coaching and research on music-related injuries.
A prize-winning pianist in her youth, Cha has given concerts in USA, UK, Austria, Belarus, Germany, Italy, Moldova, South Korea and China, collaborating with the Hong Kong Sinfonietta, Moldova National Chamber Orchestra, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra and Pan Asia Symphony Orchestra, among others. A frontier at cross-disciplinary projects, Cha has performed at HKS McDull Music Project 2 (2007), “Rubies” from Hong Kong Ballet’s “Tricolors” (2008), with modern dancer Allen Lam on “Pulsars Between Infinity and Nothingness” (2018), and in 2019 the critically acclaimed “Winterreise – The Rite of Spring” with City Contemporary Dance Company and choreographer Helen Lai in Hong Kong, Beijing and Taipei.
The performance of musicians at the Pärnu Harmonica Festival is supported by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council
Dennis McMasters & Bill Kelly (USA)
Dennis grew up in the small city of Weirton, West Virginia and had many musical influences growing up in the heart of American Roots Music country. Vocally he was influenced by the popular singers of the day – Steve Marriott, Robert Plant and Steven Tyler. He was also greatly influenced by some of the classic blues players such as Junior Wells, Howling Wolf, Magic Dick and Little Walter. These harmonica players were all instrumental in transitioning the more acoustic Delta Blues into the powerful Chicago Blues. At age 15, Dennis decided to pick up a harmonica to emulate his blues heroes and began studying the instrument seriously.
After college, Dennis moved to Chicago where he formed his first southern blues-rock band, the Almost Brothers – a play on the name of his favorite band at the time, the Allman Brothers. His band played around the Chicago area at venues like Buddy Guy’s Legends Bar and festivals like Rockfest and Summerfest in Wisconsin.
After visiting the west coast of California, Dennis decided to move to the Los Angeles Area where there was a richness and diversity of musical tastes and experiences. His band, Manroot, played their blues influenced hard rock all around California and recorded an album of originals written by Dennis and other covers.
After a brief stint in the San Francisco Bay Area, Dennis settled in the mountains of Lake Tahoe, Nevada where he continues to entertain visitors from around the world with his two bands, the blues-based Mudd Bonz, and his classic rock based band, Off Piste. The latter plays a diverse array of popular music artists from Rush to Steely Dan with rich vocal harmonies and acoustic guitars.
Back in 2005, Dennis was looking for venues that would allow him to focus on his well-developed harmonica skills and, while searching online, came upon the Parnu Harmonica Festival. He decided to fly to Estonia and attend the festival to see what it was about. There he was introduced to Elmar and other festival organizers who made him feel very welcome. He attended the festival for the next 7 years. This will be his first time back in several years and he looks forward to the welcoming crowds in Estonia!
Bill was born in Evanston, Illinois and spent the first 30 years of life growing up, attending school and working around the Chicago Area. Always interested in musical instruments, he received his first guitar for Christmas at 13. This was in the days of Beatlemania and so of course his early influences were the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and other popular bands of the day. Growing up around Chicago, there was also the opportunity to hear the many blues artists who had heavily influenced these popular bands of the day. Most of the upstart bands around Chicago were heavily influenced by blues artists like BB King, Howlin Wolf, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, and Paul Butterfield, most of whom made Chicago their home.
Bill spent much of his teen aged years in bands emulating the music of these artists. Wanting a more sound foundation in music, he took up the clarinet in high school and played in the concert band. His musical interests were always diverse and in his later teens, he became interested in jazz and folk music. He was influenced by jazz artists like Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond as well as the jazz-influenced bands of Blood Sweat and Tears and Chicago and also local folk artists like John Prine and Steve Goodman who he would often see in the clubs around Chicago. Bill helped pay his college expenses by teaching folk guitar and developing his fingerstyle of playing.
In his 30’s, Bill moved his family to California where he worked in Silicon Valley for many years. It was there that he renewed his interest in blues music and played with many blues artists throughout the Bay Area. For 6 years, Bill played in the Bart Shea Band with fellow Chicagoan and supreme lap steel blues player, Freddy Roulette.
About 10 years ago, Bill and his wife moved to Lake Tahoe, Nevada where he met Dennis McMasters and began a long collaboration with him. Our current project together is the Off Piste Band (Off Piste means off the trail in skiing parlance) and we have fun playing all around the Lake Tahoe Region going “off the trail” with a wide array of musical genres and our talented rhythm and keyboard section.
This is Bill’s first trip to the Parnu Festival and his first visit to Estonia. He is looking forward to being introduced to the wonderful international musicians and the people of Estonia.