Pesaturo powers to world record with 32 hours on accordion

Pesaturo powers to world record with 32 hours on accordion

Cory Pesaturo, a world champion accordionist from Cumberland first noticed by President Bill Clinton as a youngster, broke the Guinness Book of World Records time for continuous playing of an accordion last weekend in Austria, in an event sponsored by Red Bull.

CUMBERLAND – Cory Pesaturo, Cumberland’s accordionist extraordinaire, has scored quite a win in his lifelong bid to gain attention for the underappreciated instrument: He’s now a world record holder.

The only person to ever win a World Championship on acoustic, digital and jazz accordion, Pesaturo played the accordion from 10:30 a.m. on Aug. 4 to 6:44 p.m. on Aug. 5. That 32 hours and 14 minutes shattered the old Guinness World Record of 31 hours and 25 minutes by Finnish accordionist Anssi Laitinen in 2010.

Pesaturo’s performance took place in the full window of the Optik Neuroth storefront in Graz, Austria, and was amplified outside for all to hear.

So how does one push through to do anything for 32 hours straight?

“It’s very simple,” Pesaturo told The Breeze this week. “Tough love in an Italian upbringing.”

Pesaturo, known as “C Pez,” said he learned early on growing up in Cumberland with his mom and dad, Fred and Debbie, that big achievements get small celebrations. The guy who describes himself as very “anti-modern generation participation trophy crap” said most members of today’s generation never would have made it to 32 hours.

“I had to push through,” he said. “It was hard as hell, but I knew I had to do it.”

Watch one of Pesaturo's interviews below.

Pesaturo logs 75,000 miles a year flying around the world and playing his accordion, but said this was his first real newsworthy event in a long time. Making the accordion famous “is pretty much my job, my career goal,” he says, and his world record marks a serious feat on his journey.

Now reluctantly closing in on 30 years old, Pesaturo is a Cumberland High School graduate and was the New England Conservatory of Music’s first-ever student to major in accordion. His resume includes four appearances at the White House with President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton, and eight other appearances for the Clintons.

Pesaturo had to comply with the so-called Marathon Record Guidelines for his record attempt: He could have no more than five-minute breaks after 60 minutes of playing, while two independent witnesses shared duty in writing a logbook of every song he performed, along with exact start and stop times. They also could not be a witness for more than four hours.

He wasn’t allowed to take more than 30 seconds between songs, doing 28 seconds just to make sure. On his hourly breaks, he had just long enough to grab a snack and use the restroom.

“You couldn’t do a number two, let’s put it that way,” he joked. “If you ever had to do a number two, you couldn’t break the record.”

Rules stated that Pesaturo couldn’t repeat songs for four hours, so he had a list of about 130 songs that would last eight hours and which met the criteria of being mentally challenging and/or physically easy. Some tunes may seem hard but are actually physically easy on technique. The techno song “Sandstorm” that Pesaturo is known for is “musically super easy, but physically insane to play, for example,” he said, but he still did it because he knew spectators would love it.

Technically, Pesaturo could have just played “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” “Jingle Bells” or “Wheels on the Bus.”

“Totally legal and would have enormously helped my endurance in the long run on every level of energy and muscle use, but I couldn't,” he said. “I'm too prideful being Italian.” Witnesses were always watching and he felt he had to play at the peak of his ability throughout.

“This is the aspect I’m most proud of,” he said. “I didn’t BS my way through the 32 hours. I played a high-level concert through it.”

With Red Bull sponsoring the record attempt in grand fashion, and TV interviews waiting for him, Pesaturo said he knew he couldn’t falter.

“I would have felt like an idiot if I didn’t do it,” he said.

“Cory’s motto of “Revolutionizing the Accordion” took another unique stop with this record to bolster an already legendary accordion career and set of accomplishments from four White House performances, a TED Talk, the only person to win World Champions in all digital, acoustic and jazz accordion, and various other records like the youngest U.S. National Champion,” stated a news release on Pesaturo’s accomplishment.

Red Bull provided Pesaturo with canisters of the energy drink and water to help him get through the 32 hours. He wasn’t even at his best going into the attempt, having slept very little the previous three nights.

“I got the least amount of sleep that week that I’ve ever got,” he said.

The “accordion-playing rebel” thanked all those who supported him from RedBull and Projekt Spielberg.

“I am all about sports and statistics, so to do this with RedBull was the perfect fit,” he said in the release. “I had achieved world championships, so now I wanted a world record, especially since the skills needed to achieve one are completely separate from the other.”

The affable Pesaturo continues to throw himself fully into all his interests. He writes weather reports for major weather websites, is a pioneer in the FreeSledding world with his own sledding mountain called “CN Mountain,” and writes blog posts for sports websites. He’s collaborated with members of the Red Sox, bands such as the Dropkick Murphys, performs regularly for 98.5 The Sports Hub, and is now working on a book on Formula 1 racing that he says will change the way people look at the sport. He has an ongoing relationship with the RedBull F1 team.

Some of his TV appearances have included “The Late Show with David Letterman” playing with Johnny Depp, the Columbus Day parade in New York City, and nationally televised programs in New Zealand, Canada, Italy, Tunisia, France, and Finland. He gives master classes on both music theory and the accordion at various universities throughout the U.S. and Europe.

Pesaturo says his main contribution is his “visionary thinking” of how the accordion should be used, played, taught, and presented in modern music.

Cumberland native Cory Pesaturo marches toward the record as he plays his accordion for 32 straight hours in Austria.