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U.S. National Accordion News - 01-Feb-2012
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Titano Accordion Company


Editor's Note
BREAKING NEWS: Passing of Joe Smiell
Stas Venglevski to Perform Sofia Gubaidulina Work in Chicago
Octoberfest Las Vegas International Accordion Festival Ready to Start - USA
25th Anniversary Celebration of NAA in Dallas in March
New England Music Festival's Golden Anniversary in April
10th Annual Carrozza Scholarship Dinner in April
Accordion Heroes Features Patricia Bartell
Iosif Purits to Perform at ATG in July
Make Plans for World Accordion Day in May

Voci Armoniche

Reports for Concerts, Masterclasses, Competitions, Festivals, etc.

Book Review: "The Beauty of Imperfection, The Dick Contino Story"
Benjamin Ickies and Bill Schimmel in "Accordion Night School"
Guy Klucevsek: March Debut of The Hymnopedists
Emilio Magnotta to Perform for LIAA
Rita Davidson Leads Pleasantdale School International Festival with Accordion

Pigini USA distributor Ernest Deffner

Future events

2012 AAA Festival: Music and Fun in Baltimore
ATG Features Festival Orchestra and Chorus
Trio Voronezh Presents Concerts

Over 2,100 titles of eSheet music, sent to you by email, secure server bank online payment



Editor's Note

by Rita Barnea
Accordion ValentineIn this months news, you will learn about the amazing versatility of the accordion and the artists who love to perform for you!

Give your Valentine the perfect gift: Tickets to an accordion event! Or buy an accordion CD!

So many accordion events to be part of! Read about Festivals, concerts, books, schools, new artists, milestone accordion anniversary events…….and more!

Begin planning for the 2012 accordion events which you will attend. All of them are exciting, unique and will entertain and educate you about the limitless possibilities of the accordion.

Plan on attending several accordion festival/events! Stay tuned for more news about them in future articles in the USA news!

Accordion Repairs Made Easy by John Reuther

BREAKING NEWS: Passing of Joe Smiell

by Joan Grauman Morse, AAA Historian
Beloved accordionist, composer, conductor and arranger, Joe Smiell, died January 31st, after being diagnosed with liver cancer only one week ago. Joe also conducted his Accordion Chamber Ensemble (ACE) in San Francisco for the last time one week ago Monday.

I had the pleasure of playing under Joe's baton in 2006 and 2007 at the Galla-Rini Camp in the San Francisco area. He was the kindest, dearest man and a tremendously talented musician.

Joe touched everyone with generosity, his love for music and his love for the accordion. He will be greatly missed.

Our condolences go out to Joe's family and to the San Francisco Accordion Club. An article on Joe Smiell's long and productive life will follow shortly. Photo by Steve Mobia.

Please send messages of condolence which will be forwarded to family members. Email Lynn Ewing, President of the San Francisco Accordion Club (SFAC):

The Ins and Outs of the Accordion by famous accordion repairer and tuner Thierry Benetoux

Stas Venglevski to Perform Sofia Gubaidulina Work in Chicago

by Rita Barnea
Stas Venglevsk and Sofia GubaidulinaConcert bayanist Stas Venglevski will perform "In Croce" by Sofia Gubaidulina on February 15th 7:30 PM (CST) at the Harris Theater in Millennium Park in Chicago, Illinois. The University of Chicago presents Contempo’s first concert of 2012 celebrating Sofia Gubaidulina, one of Russia’s most esteemed living composers. The program combines the talents of Grammy-winning new music ensembles eighth blackbird and Pacifica Quartet in a special event commemorating the composer’s 80th birthday.

In Croce features Pacifica Quartet cellist Brandon Vamos with Stas Venglevski on bayan, a Russian-style button accordion. The work’s title translates roughly to “On the Cross” or “Cross-Wise”, conveying both musical meaning as well as a Christian one.

This all-Sofia Gubaidulina program includes the world premiere of A Pilgrimage of Four, commissioned for Contempo by The Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation in the Library of Congress and The Koussevitzky Music Foundation, Inc. The performance also features Gubaidulina’s monumental cantata Perception, which reflects her fascination with ancient mathematical principles of proportion.

World-renowned composer Sofia Gubaidulina was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters degree. Gubaidulina, who is of Russian and Tatar descent, is known for a prolific body of work that melds Russian, Central Asian and Western influences. A highly-celebrated figure in contemporary music, the prolific Russian composer, Sofia Gubaidulina, has written more extensively for the accordion (mostly for the Russian variant called the bayan) than any other composer, attracted by the living properties of an instrument that "breathes".

Although her singular, haunting style was at odds with the Soviet musical establishment, Gubaidulina gained a devoted following in Russia. In 1985, she was allowed to travel to the West for the first time, where she soon found an equally appreciative audience.

She has received commissions from major ensembles worldwide, including the New York Philharmonic and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. She is perhaps best known for her 1980 violin concerto, the "Offertorium" and her 2002 "Passion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ according to St. John".

She has received numerous honors for her work, including Japan’s Praemium Imperiale, the Russian State Prize, Sweden’s Polar Music Prize, and the Koussevitzky International Recording Award.

Shulamit Ran, the Andrew MacLeish Distinguished Service Professor in Music and the College, presented Gubaidulina at a ceremony in July 2011.

Stas Venglevski's artistry, dazzling technical command, and sensitivity have brought him increasing acclaim as a virtuoso of the bayan. A two-time first prize winner of bayan competition in the Republic of Moldova, Stas is a graduate of the Russian Academy of Music in Moscow where he received his Masters Degree in Music under the tutelage of the famed Russian bayanist, Friedrich Lips. In 1992 he immigrated to the United States.

Stas' repertoire includes his original compositions, a broad range of classical, contemporary and ethnic music. He has toured extensively as a soloist throughout the former Soviet Union, Canada, Europe, and the United States including numerous performances with Doc Severinsen, Steve Allen and with Garrison Keillor on the Prairie Home Companion Show. Additionally, he has performed with symphony orchestras throughout the United States. He performed the world premiere of Concerto No. 2 by Anthony Galla-Rini and also the world premiere of Bayan and Beyond, composed for Stas by Dan Lawitts.

He is a regular participant of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra's Arts in Community Education Program (ACE); has done television commercials and performed in theater productions; produced numerous recordings including transcription of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite for bayan as well as one of original compositions. He has published several books of original compositions.

Stas Venglevski also performs as a member of the A Sta_Sera Duo where he combines talents with accordionist, John Simkus, known primarily for his smooth jazz renditions. Their musical partnership has resulted in a unique repertoire and as a duo they have toured the United States and Europe extensively and collaborated on a CD of original compositions, "Seasonings".

Stas Venglevski will be Guest Artist and conduct the 2012 AAA Festival Orchestra in Baltimore, MD. July 11-15. Stas will also be Featured Artist/Educator at the Accordion Heroes Event, June 20-23, in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

For further information:
To order tickets to the concert in Chicago: 312-334-7777

Titano Accordion Company

Octoberfest Las Vegas International Accordion Festival Ready to Start - USA

by Heather Masefield, Secretary, New Zealand Accordion Association
Octoberfest Las Vegas International Accordion Festival
Paul PasqualiNewsletter cover, Octoberfest Las Vegas International Accordion FestivalI am writing this on the plane flying internationally to Las Vegas for the Octoberfest Las Vegas International from 15th to 18th October at the Gold Coast Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas.

Paul Betken & Jerry Cigler are newly added to a great line up of stars (list below) with lots of great seats still available! Want to hop a plane to come and enjoy this exciting festival?

Newsletter (picture right) with full information: 2018LVACnews.pdf
Picture left: Event organizer Paul Pasquali

The lineup starts with visionary accordionist Cory Pesaturo and bookends with a grand finale starring Grayson Masefield and the International Accordion Orchestra under the direction of the legendary Prof. Joan Sommers.

You can register online at or contact Paul Pasquali, event organizer, by phone at 1-800-472-1695 or (801) 485-5840, email:
Footer Octoberfest Las Vegas International Accordion Festival

Voci Armoniche

25th Anniversary Celebration of NAA in Dallas in March

by Rita Barnea
NAA Featured artists
2012 is the 25th Anniversary of the National Accordion Association (NAA) Convention. The celebration of the 2012 National Accordion Convention, held at the Westin Park Central Hotel in Dallas, Texas from March 14 - 17 is planned by the National Accordion Convention Planning Team consisting of Nick Ballarini, Greg Klugiewicz, Sharon and Norman Seaton, Louise and Bill Kucera, Judy Dillard, Chett Warzusen, Nancy Bernstein, and Tom Faulkner.

Featured accordionists will be Murl Sanders, SqueezeBox "Molly B and Ted", Betty Jo Simon, and Tatiana Semichasnaya.

The 2012 NAA Festival will also host activities for young accordionists. The National Accordion Association (NAA) youth program is designed for individuals 19 years of age and younger. Because of normal school schedules, Saturday, March 17, will be the official 2012 youth day. Due to generous donations by various members, the youth are invited to attend convention workshops, concerts, and related activities without paying an entrance fee. As you register for the 2012 convention, you may consider contributing to this special program.

Activities planned for young accordionists are: Youth Accordion Band under the direction of Richard Albreski. Please contact him directly, for more info. Arlyn Visentin organized performance on the lobby stage, Dr. Daniel Kott directs Folk Dance activities,

Shelia Lee will manage the Hohner Accordion Trade Show area. She is setting up the show area to simulate her Pasadena Accordion Studio. Both youth and adults are encouraged to stop by and to take beginner lessons on either the button or piano accordion. On Saturday, Shelia will be in the Hohner Trade Show area letting anyone interested play an accordion (piano, button, or chromatic). If you bring your own a button accordion with the bass reeds removed, bring those reeds and Shelia will put the reeds back in (free) and teach you how to play a button accordion while using the bass buttons.

Interesting workshops will be offered by the following presenters: Murl Sanders "Versatile Accordionist Workshop" and "Instant Zydeco"; Betty Jo Simon "Commercializing Your Musical Talents"; Jamie Maschler "Tango, Comping, and Articulations"; Hank Thunander "Ethnic Styles of Polkas" , Nick Ballarini, Hank, Norman Seaton " Polka vs. Jazz"; Paul Betkin "Music Law 101"s; Roland Artists Tatiana Semichasnaya and Chris Gorton " How to Use A Roland"; Additional presenters are Nick Bratkovich " Macedonian Folk Dance Workshop"; Gordon Kohl "Polka Pointers"; Mario Pedone "Composing on your Computer": Dr. Ian Blair Fries "Medical School 101 for Accordionists"; Jessica Faltot "Business Relationships"; Gerald Cigler/Paul Betkin, Nick Ballarini "Bass Workshop"; Daniel Kott, Debra Peters "Swingin' Blues Accordion Band and Arlyn Visentin "Your Fifteen Minutes of Fame".

For further information: or

Accordion Jazz Chords

New England Music Festival's Golden Anniversary in April

by Rita Barnea
Air Force Strolling StringsThe New England Music Festival, sponsored by the Accordion Teachers Association of Mass. ( ) is making final plans for their 50th Anniversary event to be held at the Boston Newton Marriott on April 13-15, 2012.This Festival has grown and changed in the last 50 years becoming one of the largest competitions of this type in the USA with over 1800 entries each year. Peggy Falcetti and Roger Latulippe are Co-Chairpersons of the festival.

Michael Falcetti, ATAM President, is happy to announce a concert and entertainment by the excellent Air Force Strolling Strings, who perform for many functions at the White House, at the Gala Awards Ceremony on Saturday evening. AAA Board member, Frank Busso, Jr. is the accordionist for the group.

The United States Air Force Strings is comprised of 22 world-class musicians. Each of these outstanding performers has studied and perfected their craft at leading colleges, universities and music conservatories around the world. Their studies successfully prepared them to excel during an intensive and competitive audition process, which led to their selection for membership in The United States Air Force Band. A performance by The United States Air Force Strings reflects a combination of immense collective musical experience with the boundless dedication to perfection.

The New England Music Festival is an annual musical competition sponsored by the Accordion Teachers Association of Mass. (ATAM). Established in 1962, it typically features more than 1800 entries and 800 contestants from all across New England. All events are free and open to the public. During the festival, contestants, ages through 22, take part in accordion, guitar, bass guitar, drum, percussion, piano, and voice competitions. Solo, duet and group categories are also offered. Non Competitive Categories include evaluation solos and festival group divisions. Contestants must be students of ATAM teachers.

The three-day event takes place Friday through Sunday. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday a “Battle of the Bands” is held in the hotel ballroom and cash awards are given to the first, second and third place winners in three divisions. The Accordion, Guitar, Drum, and Piano Championships are also held Friday evening with cash awards given to all competitors.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday continuous group competitions are held in the hotel ballroom. Solo and duet competitions are ongoing. An awards banquet is held on Saturday evening with more than 500 in attendance. A $500.00 cash scholarship is awarded to a contestant accepted as a Music Major in college. Contestants are evaluated by judges from all over the country. At the event, students will have an opportunity to participate in workshops, compete in age-level categories, perform for evaluation, attend concerts, and have fun at a Dance Party on Saturday evening. One of the best things about the event is that contestants can participate regardless of their experience level or ability.

In addition to the new Super Championship Accordion category, sponsored by Dr. Emilian Badea, which has a $1000.00 cash award for the 1st place winner, over $4000.00 will be awarded in scholarships and cash awards in group and advanced categories. The New England Accordion Super Championship is open to all previous New England Accordion Champions and any Champions from outside the New England area ( excluding Coupe Mondiale winners) The registration deadline for the new Super Championship Accordion category is February 19, 2012.

All first place Champion winners over the last fifty years are invited back to this prestigious event and will be honored at the Gala Awards Ceremony. Many of the members are planning to have reunion bands performing in the Festival Band category to be held on Saturday and Sunday afternoon.

If you decide to attend, rooms will be available at a discount rate. The cutoff dates for these rooms is March 29, 2012. Reservations can be made on the ATAM website {}.More information will be posted as it is available. For further information, please email the 50th Anniversary Committee Chairman, Sam Falcetti: or call 413-204-5522.


10th Annual Carrozza Scholarship Dinner in April

by Rita Barnea
AAA Logo
Carmen CarrozzaAmerican Accordionists' Association proudly presents the 10th Annual Afternoon of Music, Food and Fun to benefit the Carmen Carrozza Scholarship Fund for the advancement of promising young accordionists on Sunday, April 22, 2012.

The event will be held at a new spectacular location with a diverse menu and unlimited free wine at Villa Barone Hilltop Manor, 466 Rt.6, Mahopac, New York. Phone number for the restaurant is 845-628-6600.

Featured performers include: Mary Tokarski, Dominic Karcic, Mario Tacca and Mary Mancini, Frank Toscano, Frank Carozza, Emilio Magnotta, Beverly Roberts Curnow, Ray Oreggia, Fabio & Fabio, Lenny Feldmann, Anita & Bob Siarkowski, the Connecticut Accordion Orchestra and more to be announced in future articles.

It is important for musicians to know the contributions that Carmen Carrozza made toward the advancement and acceptance of the accordion. Carmen Carrozza was born in a small town Solano in Calabria, Italy on July 20, 1921. Carrozza emigrated to the USA with his family when he was nine years old settling in the town of Chappaqua in Westchester, NY, where Carrozza began studying music, becoming proficient on the violin, piano and accordion.

It wasn’t long before his love for the accordion became obvious and he found himself concentrating solely on mastering this instrument and master it he did! Although the piano accordion was developed around the turn of the century in 1909, it was stated by one of Carrozza’s early professors that "the accordion wasn’t given birth until the young Carrozza placed his hands on the instrument."

In 1937, he graduated from the Pietro Deiro Accordion Conservatory in Greenwich Village, NYC where he was awarded the highest honors and a gold medal for his performance. He furthered his studies at the New York Academy of Music specializing in theory, harmony, counterpoint and composition. Carrozza’s professional debut took place in 1947 at the Philadelphia Academy of Music launching what was to be one of the greatest careers of the century. He went on to triumph with appearances throughout the concert halls in the United States. (Carnegie Hall, Town Hall, Times Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center Music Hall, Philadelphia Academy of Music, just to name a few) Canada, and Europe - (France, Germany, England, Sweden, Finland, Russia and Italy). Carrozza was presented with a gold medal by the E.A.L., an agency of the Italian Government, after an outstanding performance at the Theatro di Pavia.
Carrozza was the first accordionist invited to perform as featured soloist with major symphony orchestras: The Boston Pops Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Arthur Fiedler premiering Paul Creston’s "Concerto for Accordion and Orchestra"; National Symphony and New York Philharmonic under the direction of Andre Kostelznetz, premiering Alan Hovanhess’ "Rubaiya"t; Cincinnati Orchestra, under the direction of Thomas Schippers; The Buffalo Symphony Orchestra, The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Pops Orchestra, The United States Navy Band, and the list goes on and on. A legendary composer, arranger and world renown concert artist and educator, Carrozza has been a true inspiration to humanity.

Carrozza’s success on the concert stage is matched only by his contribution to the development of accordion literature. In this area, he collaborated with outstanding American composers: Robert Russell Bennett, Henry Cowell, Paul Creston, Alan Havanhess, George Kleinsinger, Otto Leuing, Paul Pisk, Wallingord Riegger, Elie Seigmeister, William Grant Still, Carlos Surinach, Virgil Thompson, & Russian composer, Alexander Tcherepnin.
Carrozza considers solo concerts in Town Hall, New York City, as one of the high points in his career. At these concerts, he performed and premiered all original accordion works by the forementioned composers. It was a milestone in the history of the accordion.His performances of the works of these composers opened a new field for the generations of accordionists to follow and gives to composers a new instrument to use as a vehicle of musical expression. Concert accordionists of the future owe a debt of gratitude to Maestro Carrozza for paving the way for them to the concert platform.

Throughout the years Carrozza has received numerous awards and honorees from many different organizations, associations and clubs. On March 17, 2002 Maestro Carrozza was honored by the American Accordionists' Association and was the first recipient presented with the prestigious“Lifetime Achievement Award”. Shortly after this gala event, The Carmen Carrozza Scholarship Fund, (a fund for the advancement of promising young accordionists and the commissioning of new works for the accordion) began in the spring of 2002.

For further information: or
AAA Phone: 203-335-2045; Fax: 203-335-2048

Gary Dahl eSheet music, sent by email, secure bank server system

Accordion Heroes Features Patricia Bartell

by Rita Barnea
Patricia BartellPatricia Bartell will be a Featured Artist/Educator at the Accordion Heroes Event to be held in Fredericksburg, Virginia from June 20-23, 2012 at the Fredericksburg Hospitality House.

Patricia Bartell, a graduate of Whitworth College, holds a B.A. in Music Education and Music Performance. She is widely-known throughout the U.S. northwest and western Canada as an adjudicator, professional performer and teacher. Patricia performs and teaches a wide variety of music which includes classical, ethnic, musette, and sacred music. Patricia is the director of the Spokane Accordion Ensemble. She has also studied "The New Technical Approach" with the world-renowned accordion teacher Frederic Deschamps in France. This technique approach has helped produce amazing results for all ages.

Patricia is now the USA delegate (a member of the jury) for the international competition of the C.M.A (World Confederation for the Accordion - World Trophy) 
She is a licensed Simply Music teacher.  She has studied with Dr. Judith Schoepflin of Whitworth College and with Kendall Feeney of the Golandsky Institute, which is the preeminent center for the Taubman Technique Approach.

Patricia is very involved in many projects/activities revolving around the accordion. She is founder/teacher at the Able To Play Studio in Spokane, Washington. where accordion and piano lessons are given. The Able To Play Studio employs the ‘Simply Music’ program for piano and accordion where everyone can play straightaway and enjoy.

In contrast to traditional methods, the Simply Music program uses an entirely new and far more natural approach, and focuses on the sheer fun of playing music.The method employs a unique ‘playing-based’ approach that can be easily understood by children, teens, adults and seniors alike. Gone is the need to endure years of lessons, boring practice lessons and relentless hours of drills.

Patricia says,"My purpose in teaching is to share the gift that was given to me, impart the love I have for music and to make music come alive for all my students."

Patricia, with Frederic Deschamps who is the President of the Confederation Mondiale de l'Accordeon, is an organizer for the World Championships for Accordion 2012 in Spokane, Washington October 23-27, 2012. The 62nd Trophee Mondial is one of the most prestigious International Accordion competitions in the world. More about this event in future USA news articles.

Patricia is also part of the tango group, The Tango Volcados which includes accordionist Patricia Bartell, Pianist Kendall Feeney, Bass player Eugene Jablonsky and violinist Tana Bland,

For further information about Patricia and Accordion Heroes:

Pigini USA distributor Ernest Deffner

Iosif Purits to Perform at ATG in July

by Rita Barnea
Iosif PuritsThe 72nd ATG Competition and Festival will be held July 25-29 in Lisle (Chicago). Iosif Purits will be one of the featured performers.

Iosif Purits was born on May 7, 1988 in Moscow. When Iosif was six years old, his father who was a well known bayanist and teacher, started to teach Iosif to play the bayan. However it didn't last for a long time. After a sudden illness he passed away. The young 8 year old Iosif remained with his mother, Natalia Purits, who gave him his primary music education. At a young age he became a prizewinner at the International competition "Classica Nova" in Germany.
Since then the young musician has embarked on an intensive musical life including annual victories at International competitions, concerts and festivals. Iosif won the under 12-age category at the International competition in Klingenthal and since then has played seven times at the International festival "the Bayan and Bayanists" in Moscow.

When he was a child, he became a prizewinner of the Sixth Artiada of the People of Russia in addition to winning many International competitions. Iosif is participating in art projects of the International Charity Foundation of Vladimir Spivakov.
With his concert programs, he has toured many countries of the world, such as Austria, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Czech Republic, China, France, Canada, Denmark, Serbia and other countries. From 2004 to 2008 Iosif studied in the college of the A. G. Shnitke Moscow State Institute of Music under professor Andrey Ledenyov. Today Iosif is a student of the Russian Gnesins Academy of Music where he is studying under Professor Friedrich Lips.

He is a prizewinner of the following International competition Classika Nova (Germany, Hanover 1997), Vesennie Golosa (Moscow 1999, 2002, 2005, 2008), Petropavlovskie Assamblei Garmoniki" (St.-Petersburg 1999, 2001, 2003, 2007), Andreev Competition (St.-Petersburg 2000), Competition of Accordionists in Klingenthal (Germany 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2011), Bolshoy Priz Dona (Rostov-on-Don 2001, 2007), Uchitel I Uchenik (Moscow 2002), New Names (Khanty-Mansiysk 2004), Kubok Belogorja (Belgorod 2005),
Kubok Krivbasa (the Krivoy rog 2006), Competition of Accordionists in Castelfidardo
(Italy 2009), Moscow International Accordion Competition (Moscow 2010).

More ATG Festival artists will be announced in future articles.

James O'Brien eSheet music, emailed to you, secure bank server

Make Plans for World Accordion Day in May

by Harley Jones
To performers, accordion orchestra leaders, festival, concert and competition organizers: What are your plans to promote the accordion in your region on World Accordion Day, 6th May 2012?

World Accordion Day is held on 6th May because that is the day the accordion was first patented in 1829 in Vienna. World Accordion Day started in 2009 and everyone is urged to register their World Accordion Day activity on the website and send a report (and pictures) after the event.

World Accordion Day is a Confédération Internationale des Accordéonistes (CIA) international promotion and CIA President Raymond Bodell said “ALL accordion events celebrating World Accordion Day are welcome. This is a promotion for the accordion in which every accordion enthusiast can participate and help bring the accordion to the attention of the people of their country or region. I particularly ask all major associations and events organizers to plan a special promotion for the weekend of 6th May 2012."

For further information email:

The Art of Playing the Accordion Artistically by Friedrich Lips

Reports for Concerts, Masterclasses, Competitions, Festivals, etc.

Titano Accordion Company

Book Review: "The Beauty of Imperfection, The Dick Contino Story"

by William Cosby
Toward the end of “The Beauty of Imperfection”, The Dick Contino Story, Dick writes that he has never considered himself an accordionist, per se. Thus, it makes sense that this is most certainly not an accordion book, per se. Dick continues that the accordion was a way to express himself. And given the inherent physical and musical capabilities of an accordion, it is unlikely he could have made a better choice.

There are those who say Contino is the ‘World’s Greatest Accordionist’; and in terms of his mastery over the totality of the instrument and his ability to connect with an audience, he has few peers. In his success as a superstar who expressed himself through his accordion; he has none.

Contino’s words recount some wonderful historical moments, however, "The Beauty of Imperfection", is not structured as a chronology. Rather, it tells of his spiritual path through life with a brutally honest disclosure of facing his inner demons. It is a story of survival, both in terms of enduring severe phobias and life’s complications that often compounded them. This gives the autobiography a very unique and personal spin.

The book doesn’t provide background to any artistic intent or some unique musical insight. Nor is it intended to justify any particular ‘life’ decision. There is no such pretense. Music or musical performance that demands explanation is of questionable artistic value anyway. It works or it doesn’t work. Ultimately, life’s actions are also defined by the outcome, be it internal to the individual or external in how it affects others. Contino expresses his love of studying humanity above almost anything else – and one of the primary rewards of "The Beauty of Imperfection" is a disclosure some very personal aspects of his own humanity – not presented for validation or acceptance, but merely as what they are.

But there is another treasure in these pages: a very unique insight into the culture of the time. One can read the dates and happenings of an era, but these can never bring something to life like a personal story can. Dick’s popularity and fame exploded upon the country as a national craze – even more impressive when you consider that it was a long time before global media networking. He went viral before the word was ever applied to a phenomenon.

Through his story we have insight into a world of headlines in major newspapers, network politics, trips behind the Iron Curtain, and emergency meetings called by national heads of the Musician’s Union (an enormously powerful influence of the day), and an A-List of celebrities. Certainly no other accordionist ever experienced or endured fame at this level, and given the systems that support today’s musical superstars, it is unlikely that they are forced to deal with such a wide range of competing and complex issues.

Dick Contino has excited and thrilled audiences for over six decades. But through his book, he now offers a very personal look behind the creativity – though not to explain or justify, but to rather complete a spiritual cycle. He talks of survival, and perhaps this autobiography is a gift of his survival – something missing from other superstars with similar gifts where the cycle was cut short.

Many feel that humor is an essential part of any spiritual path, and most certainly a critical part of survival. Dick’s sense of humor also fills the pages of the book. In a final chapter, Corky Bennett, Dick’s long-time friend, confidant, and personal comedian, provides an external look at Dick’s sense of humor, providing the reader with some very funny moments.

In the true sense of art, there will likely be people who will not resonate with this book, and there will others who will truly embrace it: “I have felt that, or that has also been part of me.” But in the words of one of my favorite spiritual advisors, perhaps this will make those who feel too comfortable a little less comfortable. And perhaps it will make those who feel uncomfortable a little more comfortable. And sometimes both are good.

The accordion world has often come up short in its recognition of Dick Contino, the man, and Dick Contino, the accordionist. Perhaps it doesn’t really matter. He has never needed their validation. Here was a man who loved to play. And here was a man who found the accordion the perfect media for what he needed to say.

Those who attend Accordion Heroes 2012 in Fredericksburg, VA, will have the unique opportunity to meet Dick Contino and hear him play. It’s not a lifetime achievement award but rather the opportunity to celebrate the legacy of one of this country’s great superstars who expressed himself with his accordion!

And the book, The Beauty of Imperfection, the Dick Contino Story, is as unique and wonderful as the man who wrote it; perhaps something even an accordionist will enjoy.

Larry Malmberg eSheet music, sent by email, secure bank server

Benjamin Ickies and Bill Schimmel in "Accordion Night School"

by Rita Barnea
Benjamin Ickies and Dr, William SchimmelOn January 30, Benjamin Ickies and AAA Artist in Residence, Dr. William Schimmel, presented a lively program about their experiences with the accordion at Le Poisson Rouge in New York City. Benjamin Ickies , in the first "ACCORDION NIGHT SCHOOL", interviewed Dr.William Schimmel about his education and experiences with the accordion. A discussion between Bill and Benjamin revolved around the role, if any, that formal training plays in creating quality accordionists.

Dr. William Schimmel is well known for playing and touring with Tom Waits during his seminal Frank's Wild Years trilogy and helping create Waits' signature sound. But how did he get that gig? What did he learn that qualified him for the job? And more importantly, what did he have to unlearn? And what training proved entirely irrelevant? These questions were addressed in a detailed yet entertaining way.

Benjamin Ickies performs and produces music for a variety of cabarets, nightclubs and other events, yet had no training besides a series of private teachers including Dr. Schimmel. How can Ben compete with conservatory-trained musicians in the freelance workforce? Schimmel and Ickies discussed their very different educational histories and what contributed to making them the musicians they are today. A Q&A session with the audience was followed by a performance and a meet & greet.

Benjamin Ickies is founder and accordionist for This Ambitious Orchestra. His 20 piece orchestra will perform music ranging from classic French chanson to raunchy can can and other love ballads on February 14 in "La Vie Parisienne" at the Riverside Church, 91 Claremont Ave., NY Joining them will be the showgirls of Lady Circus. Door open at 8 PM. Showtime is 9 PM.

For further information:

Gary Daverne CD's and eSheet music available online

Guy Klucevsek: March Debut of The Hymnopedists

by Rita Barnea
Guy KlucevsekAccordionist Guy Klucevsek is always involved in unique musical projects featuring the accordion. The Hymnopedists, a duo consisting of Guy and toy piano/pianist Isabel Ettenauer will appear in their International Debut on March 2, 2012 at the Vienna International Accordion Festival.The Hymnopedists were born out of an April, 2011 music theatre project called "Industrious Angels," by writer/actress Laurie McCants.

Guy Klucevsek, commissioned to write music for the piece, composed a score for violin, piano/toy piano and accordion, in a series of solos, duos, and trios. For the recording of the score for the production, he invited Austrian toy piano specialist and pianist Isabel Ettenauer to play in the trio. Guy and Isabel enjoyed playing together so much that they decided to form a duo to continue playing Guy's music.

Guy Klucevsek, is perhaps best known in Europe through his recordings, tours, and film with his Accordion Tribe project, from 1996-2009, and his legendary Polka From the Fringe project of the early 1990s. For Guy, The Hymnopedists represents a chance to perform music of his which is not so well-known in Europe - music written originally for bands, or chamber ensembles, or duos of various combinations. Guy that feels Isabel Ettenauer is an ideal partner for this collaboration.

At the same time as he was composing the score for "Industrious Angels," Guy was writing material for his next recording, "The Multiple Personality Reunion Tour," and one set of pieces on that album is called "Three Hymnopedies," in tribute to one of Guy's favorite composers, Erik Satie, composer of "Gymnopédies" (from a Greek word meaning dance). Being an inveterate punster, Guy could not resist this play on words. The title refers to two areas where Klucevsek feels a special kinship: song (hymn) and dance (ped, or "foot").

When searching for a name for the duo, Klucevsek landed on "The Hymnopedists," as a tribute to both Satie, and to the old touring song-and-dance teams of vaudeville. The program consists of duos for accordion and piano/toy piano, as well as solo works for accordion, piano and toy piano. Included will be a suite from "Industrious Angels."

For further information:
The Hymnopedists

4 Music Books by Stas Venglevski

Emilio Magnotta to Perform for LIAA

by Rita Barnea
Long Island Accordion Alliance Logo
Emilio MagnottaAccordionist Emilio Magnotta will be the guest artist at the meeting of the Long Island Accordion Alliance (LIAA) on Tuesday, February 7th at 7 PM. Once again, La Villini Restaurant, 288 Larkfield Road, East Northport, NY, is sponsoring the event.

Emilio Magnotta will present an exciting, varied program of Italian folk, 40‘s American standards, and light classical music. Emilio began accordion lessons at age five when a friend of his mother’s gave him an authentic Italian accordion to play with. He asked his mother for lessons and she found an excellent teacher for him, Mr.Cliff Scholl who was a student of Pietro Frosini. Cliff Scholl was an arranger and teacher. Very active in the AAA, Cliff made live recordings of some of the greatest accordionists from the early 40‘s such as Frosini and Magnante. Emilio took lessons from Mr. Scholl for eighteen years!

Presently, Emilio, from White Plains, NY. does repairs on all types of accordions, installs pick-ups and midis, and is involved in accordion sales in his shop in Stamford, CT. He also performs every weekend for all kinds of events from outdoor Italian feasts to weddings. He also recorded a CD, “Emilio Magnotta, Vol.II”.

If you play the accordion, please bring your instrument and play for the group. This is open to anybody that plays the accordion no matter what level of capability. Everyone is welcome to participate! People who love to just listen to accordion music are most cordially invited to attend for a fun evening. Bring your friends. Enjoy a wonderful evening of great food, music, and meet people who love the accordion.

Reservations are recommended. (631) 261 6344. You can also e-mail your reservation to Frank Catania

For further information about Emilio:

Amy Jo Sawyer CD titled According to Amy

Rita Davidson Leads Pleasantdale School International Festival with Accordion

by Rita Barnea
Rita Davidson USA Editor
Rita Davidson, USA News EditorPhoto above of Rita Davidson (accordion) and Deborah Rees (guitar).

On December 15th, 2011, 56 fifth graders, members of the Pleasantdale School Chorus, presented their Annual Fifth Grade International Festival for family, friends, and members of the West Orange, NJ, public school system. The musical portion of the program was followed by an elaborate International Buffet created by the families of the students. All enjoyed the various foods unique to each culture.

Following the program, many positive comments were offered about the wonderful feelings of unity, peace, understanding, and happiness encouraged by this program.

Imagine 56 students representing over 25 nationalities singing and dancing to the music of their cultures, in a joyous and warm atmosphere of peace and acceptance. Isn't that we all want to see in our world today? Music is a powerful tool in educating everyone in a positive, uplifting way about the great diversity in our society today. 

Learning about the music of different countries and directly experiencing it through participation in song and dance reinforces the commonalities that all cultures have.... the desire to transmit emotion and experiences through music and to celebrate all facets of life.

The Fifth grade teachers, Douglas Norrie, Amy Pacifico, and Maria Larezza and I integrate the Social Studies Curriculum with the Music Curriculum to enhance the learning about World Cultures. I am pleased to report that all the children were very enthusiastic and happy to sing In different languages and, additionally, to learn about the various holidays celebrated by many including Christmas, Chanukah, and Kwanzaa.

I accompanied all the songs with my accordion and the children playing percussion instruments added to the excitement and liveliness of each song.

It is so easy to arrange rehearsals in the classroom, gym, cafeteria etc just by taking the accordion along. No hassles with the movement of pianos. The accordion, part of so many cultures, is truly the perfect instrument to showcase the flavor of each country. Among the many songs included were: "Pat Works on the Railway"(Ireland); "Feliz Navidad"(Spanish); "Waka Waka Dance" (Africa); "Oh Chanukah" (Israel); "God Bless America" (USA).

I believe that vocal music teachers should play the accordion. Having taught music for over twenty five years in public school, there were some years of not having a music room. I would visit the classes bringing the accordion, rhythm instruments, song sheets. No problem to transport and quickly set up the lesson.

Leading Flag Day programs outside, the accordion insures that all will enjoy singing to a complete accompaniment. Audience involvement? I am not stuck behind a stationary piano. I can stroll around the gym or auditorium encouraging all to sing a long!

It is very gratifying to see the positive reactions of children to the accordion. The visual component is extremely powerful. All you have to do is go to one of my pre school classes or even a fifth grade. They are all fascinated by the accordion. and, they think it is very COOL! Every morning, the Pledge of Allegiance is said in the school office by students. I am there with my accordion and various students sing a flag song, all broadcast to the entire school. It is so easy to bring the accordion

Playing the accordion not only enhances every aspect of the music program but it also increases the employment potential for a prospective music teacher. With or without a music room, the teacher can successfully teach without sacrificing quality.

West Orange, New Jersey, is a culturally diverse community. The Pleasantdale School students modeled wonderful cooperation in communicating their cultures to their friends and the parents of their classmates. The presentation displayed a warmth that would charm every group within our society. The sharing of cultural experiences at Pleasantdale School created a bond which will not be broken. The entire gathering will remember the performance as a true celebration for all Americans. The accordion is an integral part of all the represented countries.

The Pleasantdale Fifth Grade presented an encore performance of their International Festival for the entire school on Friday, December 23rd at 10:AM. Deborah Rees also accompanied playing her guitar.The musical program was filmed by the audiovisual department of West Orange High School. The program was broadcast on Comcast TV Channel 36 and Fios Channel 45 many times during the December holiday season. 

The Pleasantdale Fifth Grade Chorus will be featured at the Livingston Mall (Livingston, New Jersey) on March 8th, 2012 at 11:AM in conjunction with the Pride In Education Program.

Pleasantdale School principal, Joanne Pollara, said: "Through our International Luncheon event and the student projects displayed, we learned so much! We are reminded that despite our differences, all cultures incorporate music to celebrate joys, to share sorrows and tell the story of our lives. Our Pleasantdale community celebrations are memory makers for children to share with their families in the future and for parents to cherish. James M. Barrie once wrote, 'God gave us memories that we might have roses in December.' This week our fifth grade students and teachers gave us a beautiful December rose."

All are invited to attend future performances. For further information please contact Rita Davidson:

Titano Accordion Company

Future events

Jeff Lisenby CD A Spy In Tortuga

2012 AAA Festival: Music and Fun in Baltimore

by Rita Barnea
Stas VenglevskiThe American Accordionists' Association will present their 2012 AAA Festival from July 11-15th, 2012 at the Sheraton City Center Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland.

AAA Festival gearing up for another great event! New this year is the Junior Festival Orchestra which will be under the direction of Mary Tokarski. This event is designed for those young people who are not quite ready to participate in the Festival Orchestra or who have never had the experience of performing with other accordionists. Mary has selected some really fun pieces and rehearsals will be scheduled to avoid competition schedule conflicts.
Another new addition is the “Finale” workshop which will be a hands-on workshop with the basics of learning this music writing program. AAA member, Don Gerundo, will conduct the workshop with support materials supplied by the people at Finale.
Back by popular demand will be the Youth Outreach Jazz Ensemble with select young musicians from the Baltimore school system partnered with ambitious young accordionists. Both the Junior Festival Orchestra and the Youth Outreach Jazz Ensemble will perform at the Awards Concert on Saturday afternoon, July 14th. if you want to participate in this great (and fun) program, contact Marilyn O’Neil ( All of these events are included in the registration.
The Festival will also see the return of the Digital Entertainment category so be sure to visit our website at for updated events including PDF files for downloading all Festival application forms.

Thursday night will feature an Italian Cabaret night. Enjoy a delicious Italian dinner while being entertained by wonderful accordion music by the Potomac Ensemble conducted by Joan Grauman. Enjoy singers and accordionists singing your favorite Italian songs! Friday evening performers include the Busso Trio (comprised of Frank Busso, Sr.; Frank Busso, Jr.; and Christina Busso) and Tatiana Semichastnaya.

Virtuoso accordionist Stas Venglevski will be the Guest Artist and Guest Conductor of the Festival Orchestra. He delights all with his friendly and humorous manner, educating and entertaining at the same time. Truly a unique experience you will want to see and hear.

This year the Festival Orchestra features Mary Tokarski as soloist. Vladimir Mollov and Mary Tokarski will also be featured as “two soloists”. Dr. Robert Young McMahan will be joined by prominent saxophonist Dr. Paul Cohen in a premiere of McMahan’s new composition for accordion and saxophone.

Vladimir Mollov, virtuoso accordionist, will perform solos and also duets with his wife, renowned violinist, Annie Mollova. Gabe Hall-Rodrigues and Frank Petrilli will perform solos and duets at concerts at the Festival. Please refer to the San Francisco Accordion Club article in the January issue for their biographies.

Plan next summer around the festival's exciting days of workshops, exhibits, cabaret, luncheon concert, gala concert, and Festival Orchestra. The event will be held at the Sheraton City Center in Baltimore. It is surrounded by shops, restaurants, and in walking distance of the famous Baltimore Inner Harbor, National Aquarium, Maryland Science Center and numerous other attractions.

Please refer to the AAA Website and the USA news for updates on the festival. For further information:


ATG Features Festival Orchestra and Chorus

by Rita Barnea
ATG Logo
Joan SommersThe 2012 ATG Festival which takes place in Lisle (Chicago), Illinois July 25-29th, features the ATG Festival Accordion Orchestra. This year will be no exception, with the exciting addition of ANIMA, a renowned Youth Choir from Chicago joining the Festival Orchestra for a moving performance of "Let There Be Peace on Earth".

ANIMA means breath, life, soul, spirit and mind and reflects the Choir's mission to transform young lives through excellence in music education and choral singing. ANIMA is a world class youth choral organization, founded in 1964, which is internationally renowned for the quality of choral education and performance it provides. Formerly the Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus, ANIMA welcomes young people from Kindergarten through High School in various ensemble programs.

The Choir will have just returned from an exciting Concert Tour of Europe, and we are excited that they will be part of the Saturday Evening Concert singing with the ATG Festival Orchestra.
Director of the ATG Festival Accordion Orchestra, Joan Cochran Sommers, has had many years of experience as a teacher and conductor of prize-winning accordion orchestras and ensembles of various sizes. She welcomes you to take part in this year's ATG Festival Orchestra.
You are invited to bring your accordion and play in the group, either for the first time or once again, and since there are parts suitable for everyone, playing abilities of all levels can be accomodated. Many players rarely have the opportunity to sit and play exciting music alongside others from all over the USA and abroad. You are encouraged to take part in this popular and musically rewarding experience.
If you wish to participate in the ATG Festival Accordion Orchestra, please contact Joan C. Sommers and she can provide all the information you need.

E-mail: Joan C Sommers
ANIMA chorus

Trio Voronezh Presents Concerts

by Rita Barnea
Trio Voronezh
Trio Voronezh is presenting a series of concerts in the USA. The group consists of Vladimir Volokhin on domra, Sergei Teleshev on bayan and Valerie Petrukhin on double-bass balalaika.

Trio Voronezh’s virtuosity and artistic innovation gives the trio the ability to alter the way audiences experience classical, folk and contemporary repertoire. Discovered playing Bach in a Frankfurt, Germany subway station, Trio Voronezh has since made several tours of the U.S., and earned audience and critical praise. Don Heckman of the Los Angeles Times sums up a performance: “The traditional pieces soon brought the crowd to life, clapping enthusiastically as the rhythms accelerated and Volokhin's fingers flew across his domra. Petrukhin, his body moving in sync with his deep bass notes, and Teleshev, magisterially pulling everything together within the lush sounds of his bajan, completed the picture -- three players, alone on a large open stage, filling every crevice with their rich, imaginatively conceived music."

The trio’s diverse repertoire ranges from the works of Bach, Vivaldi, Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky to Russian folk songs, gypsy dance music, and popular songs by Gershwin. Their concert material is arranged by the trio’s members and performed entirely from memory. More recently they have added works by Astor Piazzolla, Alfred Schnittke, and Shostakovich and Strauss.

Classically trained at the Conservatory in Voronezh, Russia, the members Valerie Petrukhin, Vladimir Volokhin (National Champion, All-Russian Domra Competition) and Sergei Teleshev, formed the trio in 1993 in their native working-class city of Voronezh. They play traditional Russian folk instruments: a double-bass balalaika (the three-stringed Russian national instrument, with a triangular body made of fir), a domra (a three-stringed short-necked ancestor of the mandolin), and a bajan (a chromatic-button accordion, with various registers).

The trio made its U.S. debut at the 1996 Oregon Bach Festival (Helmuth Rilling, Artistic Director), becoming the sleeper-hit of the summer; the musicians were then immediately invited to return. The first U.S. tour began by bringing down the house on American Public Media's A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor. The trio went on to perform at Houston's Society for the Performing Arts; the cities of Ann Arbor, Chicago, Portland, and St. Louis; and the Universities of Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Nebraska, and Los Angeles; as well as Amherst, Dartmouth College, New York's Rockefeller University, and Stanford.

The trio made its orchestral debut with the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra in a highly successful collaboration with Doc Severinsen. Since the debut the trio has performed throughout the U.S. with major orchestras, to great acclaim. As San Francisco Classical Voice noted of their return to Stanford University, the players of Trio Voronezh have “clear and purposeful dynamics, and never faltered for an instant. Their playing shows a clear sense of ‘we’ve done this a million times but we still love it.’”

Future performances include:
Feb. 2…....Hampton, VA 7:30PM at American Theater
Feb.14…...Spring Lake Park, MN 7:30PM at North Metro Performing Arts
Feb.16…...Hibbing, MN 8PM at Mesaba Concert Association
March 10..Reno, NV 8PM at Pioneer Center for Performing Arts, Reno Philharmonic Orchestra, Laura Jackson, conductor
March 11..Saratoga, CA 3PM at Montalvo Arts Center
Several performances are scheduled in Montana April 12-18

For further information:
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