Little Mikey

One fateful afternoon in 1998, Michael Bridge’s mom came home with a $5 mini-accordion she’d purchased at a garage sale for her five-year old son. Shortly after, little Michael proclaimed it didn’t have enough notes; a long journey had begun...

Aged 11, Michael started performing in retirement homes. Seduced by earning $30 in an afternoon, he was soon performing 50 events per year in Calgary, learning hundreds of waltzes, polkas, and folk songs. A technology tinkerer, Michael constantly spent his money on keyboards, microphones and recorders, producing a half-dozen albums from the family home’s basement — including two albums of his compositions where he overdubbed all the “other” instruments in the band using keyboards.

From 15-18, two transformations took place: discovering classical “concert” accordion, and encountering the digital accordion. The first would lead Michael to spend all his savings on a free-bass chromatic button “concert” accordion, which required re-learning where all the notes were, as if someone scrambled all the letters on a computer keyboard. The second, the digital accordion, would allow Michael to finally “play all the instruments at once,” blending his love for technology with his musical abilities.

Michael enrolled at the University of Toronto in 2011 (he’s still there now, pursuing his doctorate) — the only accordion university in North America. His professor, Joseph Macerollo, insisted on learning how to play accordion with just about every other instrument, and on working with composers to create and play brand new music — leading to Michael premiering over 50 new collaborative pieces.

Now entering his third decade of playing accordion, Bridge’s work has received many accolades from national media, was awarded the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta’s Emerging Artist Medal, and (very gratefully) has received funding supporting his performing, album recordings, and academic research from SSHRC, OGS, the Canada & Ontario Arts Councils, the Sylva Gelber Music Foundation, and generous U of T benefactors.

As an orchestral soloist, Bridge has appeared with the Boston Pops, National Orchestra of Brazil, Edmonton Symphony, Ontario Philharmonic, Lethbridge and Regina Symphony, and others.

With his musical and business partner, clarinettist Kornel Wolak, Bridge & Wolak have toured extensively Poland, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, France, in half of the US states and in every Canadian province. Among the most active Canadian groups during Covid-19, Bridge & Wolak’s virtual concerts (pre-recorded) and school shows (live) are reaching new audiences across Canada and the USA on a weekly basis.

Touring as a member of Ladom Ensemble since 2015, they have risen to national acclaim, giving hundreds of concerts in nearly every province and working with some of Canada’s largest presenters.

Invested in music education, Bridge will eventually scale back from touring 6 months per year and teach accordion at the university level. He frequently offers masterclasses while touring, including at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Kiev, Krakow and Łódź Conservatories in Poland, Princeton University, UColorado Boulder, U Alberta, U Lethbridge, U Western Ontario, and Queen’s U.

Michael lives in Toronto near a large natural valley, and has never owned a car. He dances salsa, makes guacamole, shoots espresso, nurses scotch, and knows by heart (and by stomach) the best vegan restaurants from Kiev to São Paulo.



IG: @michael_accordionist

FB: /MichaelBridgeMusic


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© Michael Bridge 2010-2020