Berklee Today: Victor Prieto '02
Victor Prieto '02 is in Berklee's record book as a first: the only student in the college's history to pursue a performance major in accordion. "I wanted to study jazz and accordion," Prieto recalls. The Berklee alum is a native of Galicia, Spain, who studied classical accordion at a conservatory before enrolling in Berklee in 1998. He specifically wanted to attend Berklee—"one of the best schools in the world for music in general," Prieto opines—despite the fact that the college had no accordion teachers and the jazz world has hardly embraced the instrument that most associate with polkas, reels, and Lawrence Welk reruns. But both he and Berklee were up for the challenge.
Now based in New York City, Prieto is transforming perceptions about the accordion and incorporating jazz, classical, tango, and Celtic music. And in the process, Prieto is creating new sounds and techniques for the instrument.
Since making New York City his home base in 2002, Prieto has demonstrated the accordion's versatility. It's a place where, like many, he's found "the competition is brutal." Nevertheless, he has applied his instrument's dulcet sounds in a variety of musical settings, from backing jazz singers to performances with the Maria Schneider Orchestra. Prieto also recorded the selection "Panxoliña: A Galician Carol" with Yo-Yo Ma on the cellist's Grammy-winning recording, Songs of Joy & Peace. "Amazing," he says of Ma. "He makes you understand the music."