Festa Announces a Memorial Salute to Dick Contino

Festa Italiana will present a memorial salute to famed accordionist Dick Contino on Sunday, July 23 at 6 p.m. on the Miller Lite Stage. Contino, who performed at Festa 34 times in its 40-year history, died April 19 at the age of 87.



“From his first appearance at our very first Festa in 1978, Dick became a crowd favorite whose charisma was contagious, whose talent was exceptional and whose down-to-earth personality won over everyone who came to see him and got to know him,” said Dean Cannestra, Festa General Co-Chairperson. “With his passing, there was no question in my mind that Festa Italiana had to do something special to salute this remarkable man.”


Cannestra and fellow co-chairman Giuseppe Vella are pleased to announce that the participants in the memorial salute will include Contino’s son, Pete, his daughter, Deidre, three-time world champion accordionist and Contino protégé Cory Pescaturo, Ray Massa and the Russo Brothers (Nick and Domenic).


Longtime Festa fans will recall Pete Contino performing on drums and accordion with his father in the mid-1980s. A year or so later, Dick and Pete were joined on stage by Deidre Contino, who sang with her father’s band. The next year, all three had their own gigs at Festa.


Pescaturo is the only person to win world championships on jazz, acoustic and digital/electric accordion. At the age of 12, he was the youngest person ever to play at a state dinner at the White House. At 15, he became the youngster person to win the U.S. National Accordion Championship.


He graduated from the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where he was the first musician ever to major and graduate on the accordion.


When Pescaturo was 15, Dick Contino said, “Of all the accordionists I’ve seen over the years, Cory is the one to pass the torch to, the only one who has all the tools to bring the accordion back to its former glory.”


“This should be a remarkable salute to a remarkable man,” Cannestra said. “We’re anticipating that the Dick Contino Fan Club will re-group its nationwide members for this tribute and, really, all of his fans will come out to salute this legendary accordionist who graced the stages of Festa Italiana 34 times.”


Cory Pesaturo is one of only four accordionists to win World Championships on both the Acoustic and Digital Accordion and is the only person to ever also win a World Championship on Jazz.


Click here for more information on Cory!



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