Roland Users Group
Nightly you can find Hubert Gall using his Roland “V” Accordion in his role as both musican and actor. Hubert is a member of the Cirque du Soleil organization performing in their show KÀ at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas. Over the years Hubert has used various accordions, but the one you will see on stage is his special, custom color version of the Roland FR-2 “V” Accordion. Roland created this one-off model to compliment his costume for the stage performance.
Hubert, a native of France, began playing the accordion at age nine. Hubert’s teacher, Georges Bocchetti, was a well-known Italian accordionist, and Hubert recalls that regularly Mr. Bocchetti would say, “Today I play and you listen.” Hubert did indeed listen and developed a style that was unique from the music commonly heard. His talent did not go unnoticed winning The Cup of Europe in Bonn in Germany and the World Championship in Spa Belgium—twice (1972 and 1973).
Hubert met his wife, Lise Nadon, an accomplished violinist from Quebec, while she was a member of the orchestra of Mystère, Cirque du Soleil, Las Vegas. When Hubert left France he came with only a suitcase and his accordion. His wife suggested he prepare a demo CD and send it to Cirque du Soleil hoping for an audition. Unknown to Hubert Cirque was in the midst of developing a new 200 million dollar show and they needed an accordionist, so Hubert’s CD led to a live audition and later to being hired.
In the show he used a 4 reed accordion for the studio parts, and a small 3 reed rig on stage. The musical director later asked Hubert to play additional parts using a keyboard. Instead of switching instruments Hubert decided to execute the keyboard sections using a MIDI modified accordion. While this was a solution to the keyboard requirement he was faced with an unexpected situation that had to be resolved. Hubert found the Nevada desert came with a problem — keeping his acoustic accordion in tune. The solution: a reed less, digital accordion coupled with a MIDI controller, plus a free-bass section to play keyboard parts. Hubert had been reading about a new accordion that seemed to fit these needs: the Roland FR-5. He made a trip to the NAMM show in Los Angeles hoping to see and try the instrument, but once there learned without a badge he could not enter the convention hall. As Hubert began to leave he spotted one of Roland’s “V” Accordion developers, Luigi Bruti. He stopped Luigi and explained why he was there, and that he had watched Luigi’s demo of the FR-7 on You Tube — Luigi saved the day bringing Hubert inside. Hubert had his chance to try the FR-5 and was immediately captivated (“in less than five minutes”). “No more tuning issues, and one instrument with many applications. I am very satisfied with its sound and its interface capability.”
Hubert, like many professional musicians have found combining the alluring and fascinating sounds of the accordion with the needs of a world-class stage show are no longer just an interesting concept—they are reality. Some might wonder what this means for the acoustic accordion tradition—Hubert has an answer to that question. Hubert and his wife have a baby son, and Hubert says, “He will learn the acoustic and Roland accordion, and the violin—just think what his possibilities will be!”
Cirque du Soleil, Mystere, KÀ Copyrighted Trademarks used with permission. Picture courtesy of Cirque du Soleil