Diphonon Duo is a viola and accordion duo formed by the Greek viola player Michael Iskas and Iñigo Mikeleiz Berrade, accordionist from Navarra (Spain). Michael and Iñigo met in 2015 during their Masters studies at the Royal Academy of Music and after discovering they share common musical interests, they decided to establish this ensemble.
The word “Diphonon” means in Greek “two voices”.
The combination of accordion and viola, bow and bellows, is an unusual duo, however the two instruments have more similarities than we think, since both instruments are able to sustain sound for long time and vary their color and intensity. For string players, this possibility is a very interesting item to explore. The great cello player Mstislav Rostropovich said that “If cellists want to discover the possibilities of the cello, they should play with accordion and not piano”.
The repertoire performed by Diphonon Duo reaches different styles and ages. From original works for the duo, to transcriptions of baroque and classical music. The duo involve the audience in journey through time and space, from the 18th century, with the great German composer Johann Sebastian Bach, to the present day, being able to appreciate contemporary but very stylistically different pieces from distant countries such as Argentina, Denmark, Spain, the eastern Mediterranean Sea and Japan. Many of the works performed by Diphonon Duo reflect traditional elements of various regions of the world (for example dances, rhythms, songs). The ensemble’s repertoire includes composers such as Benjamin Britten, Astor Piazzolla, Graciane Finzi, Martin Lohse, Arvo Pärt, Gorka Hermosa, J.S.Bach and many others. As the repertoire for this combination of instruments is quite limited, during the last year some composers have offered to create contemporary pieces for Diphonon Duo, specifically written for accordion and viola.
Diphonon Duo performs in various venues in London and the UK such as the Royal Academy of Music, Rook Lane Chapel (Frome), St Michael’s Parish Church (Kent). The ensemble will be performing world premiere pieces for viola and accordion at the Royal Academy of Music in Spring 2018.
The duo has received coaching and guidance from eminent musicians such as accordion professor Owen Murray, Mario Stefano Pietrodarchi, Raimondas Sviackevičious and Bjarke Mogensen (accordionists), viola professor James Sleigh and violist Garth Knox. This has shaped the stylistic perception of the ensemble depending always on the unique character of each composition. Iñigo Mikeleiz-Berrade
Born in 1994 in Barañáin (Navarra), Iñigo gained his Bachelor Degree in Music from the Conservatory of Music in Navarra with Nekane Iturrioz and his Master of Arts degree at the Royal Academy of Music in London under Professor Owen Murray.
Iñigo has taken part in concert series and festivals in Spain and the United Kingdom, including the BBC Proms, Aldeburgh, Frome and Spitalfields Festivals (UK), “La noche en blanco” (Cádiz) and the Accordion Cultural Week (Zarauz), as well as performing in venues such as the Elgar Room of the Royal Albert Hall, the Union Chapel, St. James’s Piccadilly, and SOAS (London). He has also assisted in various courses and masterclasses taught by renowned accordionists and musicians, including Friedrich Lips, Matti Rantanen, James Crabb, Magnus Lindberg, Javier López Jaso, Miguel Ituarte, Alexey Artemyev, Antonio Serrano and Javier Colina.
Iñigo enjoys collaboration with contemporary composers, which has led to the première of new works for solo accordion, chamber music (with different ensembles and instruments) and accordion and orchestra. A highlight has been the première of David Johnstone’s ‘Concert for accordion and orchestra’, with the orchestra of the Professional Conservatory Pablo Sarasate, and
Tiento IV by Xabier Sarasa, with the orchestra of the Conservatory of Music of Navarra. He has also participated in projects such as ‘Música Visible’, SIGNUM, MARTIROlógika (together with the Garaikideak Contemporary Music Centre), and several ‘Composers Projects‘ at the Royal Academy of Music, London.
He is member of the Southern Cone Quintet, a quintet dedicated to the contemporary re-elaboration of music from Argentina, Chile and Uruguay and influenced by jazz, and the Diphonon Duo, along with violist Michael Iskas. Among the instrumental ensembles he has collaborated with are the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Deco and Riot Ensembles and Belsize Opera.
Iñigo is continuing his Advanced Diploma studies at the Royal Academy of Music, under professor Owen Murray, with the support of a scholarship awarded by “Caja Navarra” Bank Trust.
Michael Iskas is a Greek viola and violin player who has appeared at various European venues with several orchestras (including English National Ballet, Orpheus Sinfonia, Royal Academy Opera), chamber music ensembles, traditional and popular music bands as well as a soloist.
Michael is founding member of Diphonon Duo (Viola-Accordion) with the Spanish accordionist Iñigo Mikeleiz Berrade, performing a wide range of repertoire, including original compositions or transcriptions, from Baroque to 21st century. Some of the repertoire is influenced or inspired by various worldwide musical traditions (dances, songs, reels, literature, stories).
Michael studied violin at the University of Macedonia in Greece (BMus), the University for Music and Performing Arts Vienna in Austria and he recently obtained his Master of Arts degree in Viola Performance from the Royal Academy of Music in London, where he studied with full scholarship in the class of James Sleigh.
Currently Michael is continuing his studies towards a Postgraduate Advanced Diploma at Trinity Laban Conservatoire for Music and Dance, with full scholarship, in the class of Roger Chase. He is also a scholar of the Athena Award Trust.
Among other important musicians, Michael has participated in masterclasses and lessons with Vladimir Mendelssohn, Garth Knox, Giorgos Demertzis and Hartmut Rohde.