Perkins Center for the Arts hosts concert series

Rob Curto Trio performs accordion-driven music

Courtesy of Danny LeGare: “I’d like people to get a feel for how interesting and diverse the accordion can be as an instrument in any kind of music,” said musician Rob Curto, who performed at the Perkins Center for the Arts on Jan. 13.

Perkins Center for the Arts in Moorestown featured the Rob Curto Trio at its DeCafe Concert Series on Jan. 13, bringing a style of accordion-driven, American roots music to audience members.

According to his website, Curto spent time listening to his father Steve’s records as a child and was inspired by the sounds of jazz musicians such as Count Basie, Lester Young and Duke Ellington.

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“I refer to myself as an American artist because that’s what I am, and all of the influences that come from growing up in the United States that are just natural to being from here,” Curto said. “The blues and swing, as well as I feel like there’s a strong influence from Celtic music as well in North America.”

Curto’s father took him for piano lessons with pianist and contemporary-music composer Gitta Steiner, where Curto would play piano. Although he grew up a pianist, Curto also plays the piano accordion and a diatonic button accordion. He thinks of his musical career in three parts.

“The first act is really me growing up around my dad, playing with him, playing as a young person, playing with him and his colleagues,” Curto said. “Act two of my story is that I lived in Brazil and I got involved with some styles of roots music that are from Brazil. There’s a style called ‘forro’ (the dance music of the Brazilian northeast.)”

Within the last few years, Curto has gotten involved in playing Irish traditional music and recreating his sound, and is a current recipient of the Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Grant from the Pennsylvania Council for the Arts, which provides funding to further deepen his study of the Irish button accordion alongside his teacher and mentor Billy McComiskey.

Curto shared what he hopes people experience when listening to his music.

“I’d like people to get a feel for how interesting and diverse the accordion can be as an instrument in any kind of music,” he noted. “I like to think that my music stirs people emotionally, that it makes them feel good and that it inspires them on some level.”

Curto enjoys not only connecting with other musicians when playing the accordion, but also connecting with the audience.

“Just the feeling of communication, and (there is) a sort of communal experience of making music together, making art together,” he explained. “That is definitely very rewarding, and also feels very healthy to me.”

Curto previously performed at Perkins’ Collingswood location, and connected with Marion Jacobson, its folklife center director, who recommended him to Bryan Williams, Perkins’ conservatory of music manager, for the DeCafe Concert Series.

“I was just really excited to do it because I have a good experience there and a good feeling about the Perkins Center,” Curto said.

Curto was happy to see new and familiar faces, particularly those he’s played with in the past.

“Irish music is largely centered around these informal Irish sessions that take place in pubs mostly, and a lot of those people that I’ve met over the past few years … have been very supportive,” he said. 

“I’m definitely looking forward to that, and just the opportunity to be part of the scene at the Perkins Center.”

For future Perkins’ events, visit https://perkinsarts.org.

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