10 Dec 2023

Tango with world champion accordionist Grayson Masefield

From Culture 101, 2:20 pm on 10 December 2023

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Aotango Photo: Supplied

Grayson Masefield

Grayson Masefield Photo: supplied

To celebrate International Tango Day on Monday 11 December, Aotearoa’s quintet Aotango will be turning the Te Ao Mārama South Atrium at the Auckland Museum into a dance floor with a world music and tango concert programme.

Featuring violinist, Andrew Beer, pianist, Somi Kim, double bassist Gordon Hill, jazz guitarist Sam Swindells and Grayson Masefield, the quintet will begin with tango and world music before opening up the stage for dances with a milonga. Dancers can dance a tanda (a set of tangos with the same partner) or a waltz. 

Despite the debated etymology of the word ‘tango’ and the many meanings, it’s largely the popular Argentinian urban dance of the 20th century. Developed in the outskirts of Buenos Aires and starting out as music and dance for the lower classes, singer-songwriter and composer, Carlos Gardel elevated the tango by singing in bars, cafes and featuring the style in films. It became a national symbol of Argentina. 

Gardel composed the famous ‘Por Una Cabeza’ in 1935 which has since featured in Scent of a Woman (1992), in the opening scene of Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List (1993), and in James Cameron's True Lies (1994). 

Grayson Masefield is the first person in the world to win world championships in all three categories of classical, virtuoso and digital accordion categories. With his grandfather importing accordions, the instrument has been a part of his family history. Masefield’s mother said he could play any instrument as long as it included the accordion as well. He says he plays the piano “badly” as he needed a second instrument for university. 

He brings his accordion into the studio at Culture 101 to demonstrate the range and challenges of the instrument and tells Perlina Lau how he got hooked on to tango. 


Aotango Photo: Supplied