Accordion USA
home articles organizations
Search on site


Yellow Pages Events

U.S. National Accordion News - 01-Feb-2014
Previous News | Past News Index | Next News

Titano Accordion Company


Editor's Note
BREAKING NEWS: Passing of Carl Fortina
Octoberfest Las Vegas International Accordion Festival Ready to Start - USA
CIA Coupe Mondiale 2014 - Servus and Welcome to Salzburg, Austria
Summer Sunshine featuring Joan Sommers and Stas Venglevski
2014 Grammy Awards Includes Accordionists
Jazz Artist Frank Petrilli: Upcoming Performances
The Accordion and 2014 Grammy Best Score Winner Alex Ebert
Martynas Levickis to Perform with NH Violinst Abe McWilliams
Clifton Chenier Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award at 2014 Grammys
Texas Folklife's Big Squeeze Accordion Contest Looking for Top Talent
Victor Prieto Trio in New York City
National Accordion Association (NAA) Convention in Texas from March 5-9

Voci Armoniche

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

Aldo Mencaccini: Legend in the World of Accordion Manufacturing
Peter Soave Performs with Detroit Symphony Orchestra String Quartet
Accordionist/Actress Nora Kirkpatrick
The Biography of Joe Escalante—The Accordion Abuser
Video: Alicia Baker Demonstrating at the Winter NAMM Show 2014 - USA
Long Island Accordion Alliance features Paolo Belanich
17 year old John Orischa to Perform for the Michigan Accordion Society

Pigini USA distributor Ernest Deffner

Future events

"From Broadway to the Met….plus" on Feb. 19th
AAMS French Concert on March 28, 2014
Jim Vandelly to be Honored at 2014 AAMS Banquet
Accordion Pops Orchestra Presents Tribute to Carmen Carrozza
AAA Festival July 9-13, 2014 in Tarrytown, NY
Plan to Hear Alex Meixner in 2014
ATG Festival July 23-26,2014 in San Francisco

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



Editor's Note

by Rita Barnea
Accordion ValentineRita Barnea, USA News EditorGreat beginning for the accordion this year! The 2014 Grammy Awards were presented to several groups that have accordionists! Composer, Alex Ebert, who won BEST SCORE at the Grammy's, has an accordionist in his band!

Be sure to read the articles in the February USA news to learn more about these wonderful musicians.

People sometimes say that the accordion is coming back. Not true..........


You will be fully informed after you have read the February USA news.!

The versatility of the accordion continues to amaze all of us! In the February USA news, you will read about all types of accordion music….. jazz, pop, rock, classical, ethnic. No other instrument can do it all so perfectly.

Watch the videos which are included in many of the articles each month. Have you considered writing an email to the accordionists? Contact information is always included at the end of each article.

Perhaps you can expand your accordion horizons this year…….. if you always played ethnic, try jazz. If you always played popular, try classical. The combinations and versatility are endless.

Are you planning your 2014 accordion adventures? Read the February USA news for concerts and festivals to attend.

February 14th is Valentine's Day. You can find your favorite accordionist a perfect Valentine's gift on the Music for Accordion website:

I welcome your comments. Send them to

Accordion Repairs Made Easy by John Reuther

BREAKING NEWS: Passing of Carl Fortina

by Rita Barnea
Carl FortinaAWW is sad to report the passing of well-known accordionist Carl Fortina on Feb. 1, 2014.

Included here are excerpts from a Facebook posting by Paul Pasquali, founder/director of the Las Vegas International Accordion Convention: Carl Fortina was a performer; a composer, an arranger, an orchestra manager, an author of “The Accordion as Written”, and above all, a man who took the dream his father had and turned it into realty. Carl grew up in San Francisco with the sound of the accordion from birth. His father, as Carl tells, had the drive and ambition to be a great accordionist but unfortunately lacked the talent but wanted his children to have the opportunity to become great. At age four, Carl’s dad bought him the smallest accordion he could find and within a few months took his son to the famous San Francisco accordion teacher John Pezzolo. As it turned out Carl had two god given talents, memory and perfect pitch – both of which were the foundation of his musical learning and career. His performing career began at age 5 with his first public performance at an accordion festival and on the vaudeville stage with his younger sister Chickie.

During his youth he continued his studies and performing and then spent 2 years serving as a drum major in the 6th infantry. Carl returned as a young man and settled in Los Angels and was very busy being the “first call” accordionist in Hollywood for next 35 years. But that was just the beginning of a fascinating career. By 1973 Carl became a contract orchestra manager for many Hollywood productions and by 1976 became the orchestra manager for Paramount Motion pictures for 30 years. The credits and lists that Carl has amassed are astounding. He has touched by either playing the accordion, acting, or being musical director in over 25,000 TV shows and more than 550 movies. Plus working with an astounding list famous artists (from Presley to Cher to Streisand) and composers (from Williams to Hamlisch to Mancini) the lists would fill a book.

Carl was a gentle giant in the music industry and some say he was one of the most recorded accordionists ever,and enormously respected for his work in the film and advertising industry.

Funeral arrangements will be posted in the USA news as soon as they become available.

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

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

Titano Accordion Company

CIA Coupe Mondiale 2014 - Servus and Welcome to Salzburg, Austria

by Kevin Friedrich
Coupe Mondiale 2014 Poster
The Confédération Internationale des Accordéonistes (CIA),
a member of the International Music Council (IMC), an NGO official partner of UNESCO, will hold their 67th CIA Coupe Mondiale and 132nd General Assembly of Delegates in Salzburg, Austria from 27th October – 2nd November 2014. The event will be hosted by the CIA member in Austria – the Austrian Accordion Association - Harmonikaverband Österreichs (HVÖ).

In terms of tourism, Salzburg is brand of worldwide repute. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the Salzburg Festival, the baroque old town, the spirit of the Sound of Music and numerous famous visitors and residents, have all contributed to Salzburg’s profile on the world stage. The city is, and always has been, a magical place for music lovers, romantics and connoisseurs. Nor has the city lost any of its congeniality over the years. On the contrary, tradition is accompanied by modern points of contrast, creating a fascinating combination in both the city’s architecture and cultural offerings.

Since it was opened in 2001, the Salzburg Congress Center, the Coupe Mondiale venue, has established itself as a popular and internationally recognised venue for seminars, congresses, trade fairs and events of every kind. The Congress Center features the "Europe Hall" seating 900 - 1,300 seats, which will be used for competitions, the Opening, evening and Awards Concerts as well as World Accordion Orchestra VIII (WAO) and the smaller "Karajan Hall“ with 300 seats which will be used for competitions and the General Assembly meetings. The facility also will be used for Exhibitors (in the Foyer), practice rooms for the competitors and an office for the CIA Executive Committee. Located in the center of Salzburg, the Congress Center is a six minute walk from the main railway station in Salzburg.

It is anticipated that many attendees from the USA will travel to Austria to enjoy this annual International accordion extravaganza in their role as officers of the CIA (Joan C. Sommers - Vice President, Kevin Friedrich - Ambassador) as well as Delegates such as Mary Tokarski, Stas Venglevski, members of the International Jury, as well as numerous Americans scheduled to take part as performers in the World Accordion Orchestra, as well as contestants in the various categories of competitions.

Joan Cochran Sommers will conduct the World Accordion Orchestra VIII. In its eighth year, the World Accordion Orchestra will perform at the Gala Prize Giving Concert.

The Austrian Accordion Association is honoured to host the Coupe Mondiale for a forth time after Vienna (1960), Salzburg (1970) and Linz (1983) under the auspices of the CIA (an official NGO partner of UNESCO). The event will coincide with the 60th Harmonikaverband Österreichs (HVÖ) Anniversary Celebration!

The event will be organized under the direction of Werner Weibert CIA Honorary Vice President 2014 with the event featuring seven categories of competition:

Coupe Mondiale,
– Junior Coupe Mondiale,
– Masters Coupe Mondiale,
– Virtuoso Entertainment
– Junior Virtuoso Entertainment
– International Competition for Digital Accordion
– International Competition for Ensemble Music

The event will also feature concerts, social events, meetings of the CIA Executive Committee, CIA Music Committee and the General Assembly of Delegates, where members will decide the business and future plans of the CIA including the election of officers (2014-2018).

For full details including, category requirements, hotel information, a tentative schedule which highlights the exciting array of guest artists who will be featured in concert, various attractions visitors can enjoy while in Salzburg and all other information, please visit

Voci Armoniche

Summer Sunshine featuring Joan Sommers and Stas Venglevski

by Kevin Friedrich
CD cover
In honor of Joan Cochran Sommer's upcoming 80th Birthday on 6th February 2014, well known accordionist Stas Venglevski has released a new CD of works for Accordion Duo 'Summer Sunshine' recorded with Joan as duet partner.
The CD features 14 original works including (1) The Carnival, (2) Invention, (3) Sommers Fantasy, (4) Three Waltzes - Bravo, (5) Three Waltzes - For Two, (6) Three Waltzes - Musika, (7) Agony Tango, (8) Rainy Day, (9) Polka Accelerando, (10) In The Forest (11) Drunken Tune, (12) In the Mood, (13) Promised Tune and (14) Summer Sunshine.  Several of the tracks also feature Michael Britz (bass) and Andy Lo Duco (drums).
Joan C. Sommers was awarded the title of Professor Emerita upon her retirement from the University of Missouri – Kansas City Conservatory of Music (USA), where she established and taught the accordion degree program for forty years. She has arranged innumerable works for the accordion orchestra over many years, often for the UMKC Accordion Orchestra which, under her direction, competed in and won more First Prizes in Virtuoso Accordion Orchestra Competitions than any other similar American group.
In both 1955 and 1956 she earned the right to represent the USA in the Coupe Mondiale and, although she didn’t win, it was those experiences which opened her eyes to the tremendous opportunities available to accordionists; perhaps it also fixed her life-long interest in worldwide accordion activities. Most recently, she celebrated the 50th Anniversary of her UMKC Accordion Orchestra when they presented their 50th Gala Concert at the University.
As the arranger, Joan has had many years of experience as a teacher, a conductor, and an arranger for accordion orchestras at all levels. Many of these arrangements were used by her own orchestras in competitions held throughout the USA and on the many tours made by her groups overseas as well. The large symphonic accordion orchestras under her direction, and several times with the youngest average age for members, earned more First Place Virtuoso Accordion Orchestra Awards than any other American accordion orchestras. This is a record still unbroken today.
Joan C. Sommers has held positions in several music organisations, including the Accordionists & Teachers Guild International (ATG) and the Confédération Internationale des Accordéonistes (CIA – IMC-UNESCO). Professor Sommers continues to adjudicate, coach soloists, prepare accordion orchestra arrangements, and conduct accordion orchestras regularly, and now proudly serves as a CIA Vice President.  At the CIA, she founded the spectacular World Accordion Orchestra which has presented concerts all over the world from Scotland to China to New Zealand, and this year will present its eighth edition in Salzburg, Austria in early November.
Artistry, dazzling technical command, and sensitivity have brought Stanislav, "Stas," Venglevski, a native of the Republic of Moldova, part of the former Soviet Union, 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 is an Accordionist, a Musician, an Arranger, an Entertainer and a Teacher. 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  the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra's Arts in Community Education Program (ACE); has performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra; has done television commercials and performed in theater productions as well as produce numerous recordings.
Together, these two diverse accordionists have combined their passion and expertise in the field of the accordion to bring a fresh and artistic take to Stas's original works which span a variety of styles from the humorous to melancholy to musette and more.  For more information, please visit

Their CDs will be available for purchase at the 2014 Mesa Accordion Event Concert on February 16, 2014. The public is invited to attend this concert. Both Stas and Joan will conduct the 2014 Mesa Accordion Event Orchestra. For more information about this concert in Mesa, Arizona contact Event Directions, Joan and Dan Grauman at 301-806-5999. Admission is $10.00 at the door.
Stas Venglevski and Joan Cochran Sommers

Accordion Jazz Chords

2014 Grammy Awards Includes Accordionists

by Rita Barnea
La Santa Cecilia
Terrance SimienLa Santa CD CoverSince the Polka and Cajun/Zydeco categories were eliminated from the Grammys, it’s been a greater challenge for accordionists to win Grammy awards. But that didn’t stop some of them from achieving success this year. Accordionists are still represented in the winners circle for the 2014 Grammy Awards.

La Santa Cecilia from Los Angeles won Best Latin Rock/Urban/Alternative Album for their major label debut, Treinta Días. Their music is unique and a mixture of rock, jazz, and latin rhythm with the incredible voice of Marisol Hernandez. Over the past few years they have become more popular. See the video, "NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert" in this article.

Jose "Pepe" Carlos is the accordion player for the group. His parents, illegal immigrants, brought him to the USA when he was six years old. The group was formed in 2005 by lead singer, Marisol Hernandez and Miguel Ramirez to "blend ethnicities and identities uniquely forged in multicultural Los Angeles," and has used pop culture to push for comprehensive immigration reform. They even wrote a song against the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Other musicians in the group are Miguel Ramírez on percussion and Alex Bendana on bass. La Santa Cecilia, which performed at an amnesty rally in Washington, D.C. in 2013, dedicated the award to all of the illegal immigrants in the country.

Louisiana’s Terrance Simien & The Zydeco Experience won Best Regional Roots Music Album for their Dockside Sessions. Not only is Simien a fantastic musician, he was a key figure in the creation of the short-lived Best Cajun/Zydeco Album Grammy back in 2008 (which he laterPR Muswon).

Zydeco legend Clifton Chenier was also honored posthumously with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. If you watched the prime-time show perhaps you noticed that The Beatles received the same award!

Photo above: La Santa Cecilia
Photo left: Terrance Simien


Jazz Artist Frank Petrilli: Upcoming Performances

by Rita Barnea
Frank Petrilli

Frank Marocco and Frank Petrilli

Frank Petrilli Quartet at Cotati Accordion Festival August 2013
Frank Petrilli CDFrank Petrilli will have a busy 2014 filled with concerts and appearances at various festivals throughout the USA. His music is creative and impressive. His personality is warm and modest all resulting in an amazing and enjoyable experience for all who hear him.

Frank Petrilli was born and still lives in Los Angeles, California. He started playing the accordion at age 7 and by age 16 was playing professionally. As the popularity of the accordion declined in the US, Frank switched to playing Hammond B# Organ and the saxophone for about 15 years. In 2006, he returned to the accordion and started playing with the César Mateus Latin Jazz Band at many jazz venues throughout the Los Angeles area.

In late 2006, Frank began intensive study with the great jazz accordionist Frank Morocco which quickly evolved into a very close friendship. By virtue of their close relationship and mutual love of jazz, Frank Petrilli became Frank Morocco’s protégé and Frank Morocco often commented that Frank Petrilli was like the son he never had. Unfortunately, this relationship ended far too soon with Frank Morocco’s untimely passing on March 3, 2012. Later that year at the end of summer, Frank performed at the Fif Castelfidardo festival which is one of the most prestigious festivals in Europe.

As Frank Petrilli’s reputation grew as an excellent player in the jazz community, he began performing frequently in the Los Angeles area with renowned artists such as guitarist John Chiodini. With these artists, Frank has been regularly featured at top venues such as “Herb Albert’s” club called Vibrato Jazz and Grill. Frank also performed at many of the major accordion festivals and clubs in the US including the 2011 AAA Festival in Charleston, SC, the San Francisco Accordion Club (several times), and the Cotati Accordion festival in the summer of 2013.

In October of 2011, Frank appeared on the TV series Mad Men. In May of 2012, he was invited to play in the spot that Frank Marocco had been scheduled for as a featured performer at the Accordion competition in Kiev, “Accofestival 2012.” Frank was also one of the judges for the jazz portion of the competition. Immediately following the competition in Kiev, he performed at the Frank Marocco Memorial Concert in Castelfidardo, Italy with many other stars of the accordion world.

Frank’s debut CD, “Totally Frank,” produced by Elke Ahrenholz of “Artist Signed Records”, was recorded in Italy during this trip. Accompanying Frank on this CD were three celebrated Italian musicians, Felice Del Gaudio, Mas Ferri and Fabio Zeppetella. In this CD you will definitely hear the influences of Frank Marocco, however Frank Petrilli plays his own style which includes more focus on Latin grooves.

2014 will be a busy one for Frank as he will be performing in April, via the invitation of Joe Petosa, at the Northwest Accordion Society in Seattle. In May, he will be playing for the Michigan Accordion Society, and in July Frank will be one of the headliners of the ATG Festival in San Francisco. In September, Frank will perform for the Washington Metropolitan Accordion Society. Of course, Frank will continue to play locally in Los Angeles as the “Frank Petrilli Quartet" at numerous jazz venues.

As the booking agent and artistic director of the Vibrato Jazz Club, Pat Senatore wrote, “Like his mentor, Petrilli gives new life to the accordion with impeccable phrasing and a smooth, fluid style. You will enjoy the music stylings of Frank’s accordion, both in concert and on his CD, and can expect some very good music coming from him in the future. "

For further information about Frank:

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

The Accordion and 2014 Grammy Best Score Winner Alex Ebert

by Rita Barnea
Alexander EbertNora KirkpatrickAt the 71st annual Golden Globes, Alex Ebert won the award for Best Original Score for his work on "All Is Lost." He was chosen over legendary film composers Hans Zimmer and John Williams.

Composer Alex Ebert is founder and a member of the musical group, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros featuring accordionist Nora Kirkpatrick.

Nora Kirkpatrick is an actress and musician, known for The Office (2013), Greek (2011), and How To Make Love To A Woman (2010). She is a founding member and accordion player for the band Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros, with whom she won a Grammy in 2012 for best Long Form Video.
The musicians in the group are:
Alex Ebert – vocals, guitar, percussion, piano
• Jade Castrinos – vocals, guitar
• Stewart Cole – trumpet, percussion, keyboards, tenor ukulele, vocals
• Josh Collazo – drums, percussion, saxophone, vocals
• Orpheo McCord – drums, percussion, marimba, vocals
• Nora Kirkpatrick – accordion, vocals
• Christian Letts – guitar, vocals
• Seth Ford-Young – bass, vocals
• Mark Noseworthy – guitar, vocals
• Christopher "Crash" Richard– vocals, percussion

After years of the Los Angeles party life and subsequent drug addiction, Ima Robot frontman ,Alex Ebert, broke up with his then-girlfriend, moved out of his house, and spent time in rehab. During this time, Ebert began to write a book about a messianic figure named Edward Sharpe that was "sent down to Earth to kinda heal and save mankind, but he kept getting distracted by girls and falling in love."

Ebert adopted the Sharpe persona as his alter ego. He said, "I don't want to put too much weight on it, because in some ways it's just a name that I came up with. But I guess if I look deeper, I do feel like I had lost my identity in general. I really didn't know what was going on or who I was anymore. Adopting another name helped me open up an avenue to get back."

After meeting singer Jade Castrinos outside a Los Angeles cafe, Ebert and Castrinos started writing music together, and became a part of the art and music collective ,The Masses, which was partially started by some seed money from the late Heath Ledger. While the two had a romantic relationship that did not last, their fledgling group eventually grew to more than 10 members, some of whom had been Alex's friends since he was young.

In mid 2009, Ebert, Castrinos, and a group of musicians toured the country by bus as Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros. Their first show in 2009 was at the Marfa Film Festival in Marfa, Texas. The band recorded their debut album, Up From Below, in Laurel Canyon. Produced by Aaron Older and Nico Aglietti, it was released on July 14, 2009.

On April 12, 2009, the band released "Desert Song", a music video and the first of a 12-part feature-length musical called SALVO! Part 2. "Kisses Over Babylon", was released November 24, 2009 through Part 3, "40 Day Dream", was uploaded to YouTube by the band on May 19, 2011.

In April 2011, the band joined Mumford & Sons and Old Crow Medicine Show on the Railroad Revival Tour. According to American Songwriter, the tour stopped in six cities, playing alternative venues such as an Austin, Texas high school where Mumford & Sons taught the marching band how to play their hit "The Cave". The tour was also the subject of Grammy-nominated director Emmett Malloy's latest documentary "Big Easy Express", which strove to capture "the pure joy of music" through Americana folk imagery.[8] The documentary went on to win in the category for Best Long Form Music Video at the 2013 Grammy Awards. The group's second album, Here, was released on May 29, 2012.

The group has a unique musical vision that draws from folk, gospel, and rock, and looks as if they've stepped right out of a commune from the early '70s. They've released three albums and are perhaps best-known for the track "Home," which reached No. 18 on Billboard's Alternative Songs chart and the top 10 in France and the U.K. The song has also been heard on TV's "Subugatory," "Raising Hope," and "Community."

Last October, the group staged Big Top, its own Lollapalooza-like circus-themed festival over three days in Los Angeles. In addition to "All Is Lost," Ebert has had other music featured in TV and films. The song "Truth" from his solo album was including in the season four premiere of "Breaking Bad" in an episode titled "Box Cutter." Another song from Alexander, "Bad Bad Love" was featured in the opening of the 2011 remake of "Fright Night," which starred Colin Farrell.

Ebert commented on writing a film score for the first time: "Popular music usually has a chorus that needs to repeat, and people need to remember the song. That's sort of the major guideline when you're writing a song. And to be able to write something that did not have a chorus — and that would play for as long as it needed to and naturally disappear and come back whenever it needed to ... for me, that was very natural, actually. It was super liberating."

Pigini USA distributor Ernest Deffner

Martynas Levickis to Perform with NH Violinst Abe McWilliams

by Rita Barnea

A. Piazzolla Adios Nonino
Martynas LevickisGretyl Macalaster, Union Leader Correspondent, reports that Marynas Levickis will perform on February 1, 2014 at the University of New Hampshire's Paul Creative Arts Center. Tickets are $10-$30. Ms.Macalaster said, "When most people think of the accordion, they think of polkas, not pop music, but one young Lithuanian squeezebox player is looking to change that image, and succeeding.

Martynas Levickis has been playing the accordion since he was three and has been taking formal lessons since he was eight. He went on to study at the Royal Academy in London, but ventured home to participate in — and win — Lithuania’s version of “America’s Got Talent,” helping to earn some classical respect for the instrument in his country.

The release of his first CD, “Martynas” on DECCA Records, has helped him reach a broader audience. The recording, which shot to the top of the Classical FM charts in England, includes everything from a Lady Gaga cover to a Verdi composition.

“Accordion has been undervalued and also put into one and only perspective angle,” Levickis said. “But it’s such a universal instrument that it can’t fit in one role only.

Accordion is way more than just a tango or Parisian music instrument; it is so much more than a folky Polkas squeezebox. By arranging Lady Gaga and other pop music I want to attract younger generations to this instrument.”

In addition to performing solo, the 23-year-old Levickis is working with a diverse group of musicians, including Durham’s own prodigal violinist, Abe McWilliams, 21, who also lives in London.

The two call themselves “Duo Versus” and will bring their performance to the University of New Hampshire’s Paul Creative Arts Center in Durham on Saturday, Feb., 1 as part of the university’s Celebrity Series.

“What I’m hoping to do is provide ... some new things ... (audiences) have never really imagined before,” said McWilliams.

 Reinvention of classical music, and classical instruments, is what Duo Versus is all about.
McWilliams and Levickis met in London in a bar in 2011, when Levickis was studying at the Royal Academy of London and McWilliams had just moved from Vienna to work with an instructor in the area. The two started to discuss an obscure piece for violin, accordion and cello by Sofia Gubaidulina of eastern Russia, and eventually performed it for Gubaidulina’s 80th birthday concert in London.

“I think my passion, and my fascination with working with (Levickis), is I want to do something similar with the violin — to show the violin is capable of playing folk music in a very virtuosic and classical style and also moving into many other genres,” McWilliams said. “I think that’s what is interesting about our duo.”

McWilliams also is drawn to the folk music of Levickis’s home country. After about a year playing together, McWilliams learned that Levickis was teaching at a Lithuanian music school in London, so he paid a visit and was so struck by students singing a folk song. He immediately asked to play Lithuanian folk music with Levickis, and thus began the long and ongoing mission of arranging their own versions of traditional folk songs, contemporary classical music and pop.

McWilliams said the culture of Lithuania reflects a mix between Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, with an ancient language that comes from Sanskrit in India. “In the music of Lithuania you can hear this,” McWilliams said. “You can hear some very unique flavor, which may come from the east, and also a very Scandinavian influence in the music.”
His first visit to the country was three years ago when he performed with Levickis during the St. Christopher Festival in Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius. They followed that with some smaller concerts in the countryside and other cities. “That was the first tryout of our folk arrangements, and we really had a beautiful response from the audiences, (with) people saying how moved they were by this,” McWilliams said. “I also felt ... so at home there. It’s quite similar to New Hampshire in terms of nature, but it also has this really rich culture which has so many traditions musically and artistically.”

That appreciation has inspired Levickis to rediscover his roots.
“I have to say I had turned away from Lithuanian folk music thinking it’s boring and banal, but Abe’s view on it made me like it again, and we both started arranging Lithuanian folk songs for our duo,” Levickis said.

McWilliams said he is now interested in learning about folk music from other nations, including Latvia and Georgia, both former Soviet republics. But the two also hold true to their classical training, and the performance at UNH will feature Bartok, Mozart and Bach as well as music by contemporary composers such as Arvo Part and Astor Piazzolla, as well as some of McWilliams’s own compositions, and of course, some folk.

Levickis’s first musical inspiration centered around the piano. “I saw a concert on TV where someone was playing piano beautifully and started tapping my fingers on the table saying (to) everybody around me that I play the piano and also asking everybody to join me,” Levickis said.
His family could not afford to buy him a piano, so his uncle and godfather, himself an artist, gave him an accordion. “I guess I improvised a lot — which is useful nowadays,” he recalled. “I don’t necessarily need music to be able to play ...”

He started up picking up Lithuanian folk songs and rearranging them. From the ages of 8 to 18 Levickis studied accordion and other musical disciplines in the Sondeckis Arts School in Lithuania. “I think it was very crucial for my basis and gave me such good foundation, which I used so much later when I came to the London Royal Academy of Music to study with Professor Owen Murray,” Levickis said.

Levickis always has felt that classical accordion needs more exposure, which was his main reason for participating in Lithuania’s “Got Talent” television competition. But back in London, at the very serious classical music institution, Levickis thought the win would be considered a “sin,” he said, but, in fact, it was celebrated.

“People found out about it and then everybody congratulated me in the corridors,” Levickis said. He said it was a reminder of how important it is to never lose artistic instinct and integrity, “which, I have to be honest, is a hard thing to do in this commercial age,” Levickis said.
Since the release of his album Levickis has been touring constantly, something he describes as both exciting but exhausting.

A few months ago he made his way through Asia, playing in Japan, China, Korea and Singapore. That was followed by an intense schedule back in Lithuania, where he performed every day for three weeks. He is doing more than two dozen shows in the United States with violinist David Garret in two months.
McWilliams was about 5 when he first asked to play the violin. He began studying in Durham with Louise Kendall and by 15, he was studying at the New England Conservatory in Boston and with musicians with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

His childhood memories link his love of nature to his musicality. “I grew up, really, in the forest, and I would imitate bird sounds and animal noises as a child,” McWilliams said. “I think what I am still really interested in with the violin is its ability to really bring out the sounds of nature. It also has a quality similar to the human voice ... (with) all the possibilities of ... amazing ensemble music. I think it 
It was studying in Boston with a Polish instructor that sparked McWilliams’ interest in music across the globe.

At 17 he spent a summer taking a master course in Vienna and continued to study there the following year at the University of Music and Performing Arts. "

McWilliams said Lithuania’s resilience intrigues him. “I think because of their history and what they’ve been through that they have this really strong fire inside of them,” McWilliams said. “That was really clear to me working with Martynas, how driven he is.”

Tickets to Saturday’s show at UNH’s Paul Creative Arts Center are $10-$30. 

Call 862-7222 for more information.

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

Clifton Chenier Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award at 2014 Grammys

by Rita Barnea
Clifton Chenier
CJ ChenierOn Saturday, January 25, 2014, the day before the live broadcast of the Grammy Awards, the late Clifton Chenier, Louisiana's zydeco king, was presented a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

The award was accepted for Louisiana's King of Zydeco by Mike Vital and C.J. Chenier at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles during the Special Merit Awards Ceremony and Nomineed Reception. Vital, Chenier's nephew, and C.J. Chenier, Clifton's son and longtime member of his Red Hot Louisiana Band, appeared together on stage to honor a man who "changed the history of music."

Each shared brief memories about Clifton Chenier, who died in 1987, as film strips of the man rolled across a huge screen. Vital said, "When Clifton was 16, he fought and struggled to play that accordion. People laughed and joked about it for years. Somehow, he started doing private dances at my grandmother's house. It grew into something big where they started doing dances on the road. Not knowing it would lead to a Grammy award, not knowing it would lead to a Lifetime Achievement Award. I'm just glad to accept this award and meet C.J."

Clifton Chenier, an Opelousas, La., native and longtime resident of Lafayette, La., took the Creole accordion music of his youth, mixed it with R&B, blues and jazz, and presented it on an international stage, introducing the world to zydeco. A 1983 Grammy winner for the I'm Here LP, Chenier was inducted into the 2011 Grammy Hall of Fame for his album, "Bogalusa Boogie".

C.J. Chenier called his father a brave pioneer. "I've been a musician all my life," said C.J. Chenier. "I know what it takes to get here. Back in the '40s, my father took the accordion and decided to hit the road. He wanted to play this music that nobody else knew about. He brought it to the world and to me, This award legitimizes zydeco by being recognized by the Recording Academy."

Clifton Chenier joins other music greats such as Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson and Johnny Cash who have received Grammy's Lifetime Achievement Award. He is part of a 2014 induction class that includes the Beatles, the Isley Brothers, Kris Kristofferson, electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk, Maud Powell and Armando Manzanero who also were honored at the event Saturday and were acknowledged during the live Grammy broadcast.

Terrance Simien, one of this year's Grammy nominees and a previous Grammy winner, attended the awards ceremony. "It was unbelievable to see something that I thought I'd never see in my lifetime, but it was very well deserved," Simien said. "Clifton Chenier belongs up there with those other monumental artists. I feel very proud to be a part of the legacy, to be playing Zydeco music."

Photo by Herman Fuselier
Photo (1975) of Clifton Chenier by Philip Gould

The Art of Playing the Accordion Artistically by Friedrich Lips

Texas Folklife's Big Squeeze Accordion Contest Looking for Top Talent

by Rita Barnea

Big Squeeze 2014 Coming to a City Near You
Big Squeeze PosterTalent Showcase to be held at the Houston Creole Heritage Festival on Saturday, February 1

Three Grand Prize Winners will perform at the 25th Annual Accordion Kings & Queens Festival, June 7 at Houston’s Miller Outdoor Theatre
Texas Folklife announces its eighth annual Big Squeeze accordion contest for up-and-coming Texas musicians, 21 years of age or younger. The non-profit that endeavors to preserve and promote Texas’s diverse cultural heritage is looking for great players in all genres of the Lone Star State’s accordion-based music, including German, Czech, and Polish polka; Creole, Cajun, and zydeco; and conjunto, norteño, and Tejano.
In order to better nurture young Texas talent, Texas Folklife is restructuring the popular contest this year. The contest will go on the road again this spring in order to meet the young accordion players in their communities in talent showcases. Three Final Grand Prize Winners will be devoted to the three main accordion genres—polka, zydeco, and conjunto. The polka genre will include German, Czech, and Polish traditions. Zydeco will include Creole and Cajun musical traditions. And conjunto will include norteño and Tejano. The showcases will be free, open to the public, and feature performances by local musicians.

The Big Squeeze kicks off its 2014 season in Houston. The talent showcase will be held at the Houston Creole Heritage Festival on Saturday, February 1, from 3:00-4:00 p.m., at Discovery Green Park in downtown Houston. The Houston Creole Festival is being held for the first time with free events from January 31-February 2, at Discovery Green and Knights of Columbus Hall. Local accordion powerhouse and former Big Squeeze Champ Keyun Dickson will play a few tunes with his band the Zydeco Masters after the talent showcase. Be sure to stick around for the all day zydeco fest!

The Creole Festival and the Big Squeeze Showcase are free and open to the public. Interested players may register on site or in advance by calling Texas Folklife at (512) 441-9255 or online at Those who cannot attend the showcase may mail or email their entries to arrive at Texas Folklife no later than April 7, 2013. The complete contest rules and entry forms are available online or by calling Texas Folklife.

Nine finalists (three from each genre) will be chosen from the field of performers at the showcases (and those who send in their performances to Texas Folklife) by a panel of esteemed music professionals. Accordionists will be judged on their technical proficiency—skill in playing, and technical and musical accuracy—as well as their song interpretation (stylistic choices, innovation, and originality) and stage presence (level of comfort on stage and attention to personal appearance).

The nine finalists will be announced on April 11. The finalists will perform at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin on Saturday, April 26. Three Grand Prize Winners will be selected. There will be one winner for each accordion category—polka, zydeco, and conjunto. All three winners will perform at Texas Folklife’s highly acclaimed annual Accordion Kings & Queens Festival at Houston’s Miller Outdoor Theatre on Saturday, June 7, 2014. The three Big Squeeze 2014 Grand Prize Winners will also receive a prize package valued at more than $4,000, including a cash prize, a brand new Hohner accordion, performance opportunities in Austin and Houston, publicity, professional development, and other professional opportunities.

“We love Houston!” says Executive Director Cristina Ballí. “It is a hotbed of musical talent, especially zydeco. Several of our Big Squeeze Champs have hailed from the Houston area and we have many supporters in the community. We are very happy to be partnering this year with the Creole Heritage Festival. I hope everyone comes out to celebrate all things Creole—and don’t forget this is the 25th anniversary of Texas Folklife’s Accordion Kings & Queens Festival to be held again at Houston’s Miller Outdoor Theatre on June 7.”

The Big Squeeze is supported by the members and Board of Texas Folklife and by Hohner, Inc.; by grants from Texas Commission on the Arts and the Texas Music Office, the City of Austin through the Cultural Arts Division, the City of Houston through the Miller Theatre Advisory Board, the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, the Houston Endowment, and Texas Gas Service. Additional support is provided by regional businesses including SugarHill Recording Studios, Antone’s Records, Hacienda Records, and Frank+Victor Design.
About Texas Folklife

Texas Folklife is a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to presenting and preserving the diverse cultures and living heritage of the Lone Star State. Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2014, Texas Folklife has honored the authentic cultural traditions passed down within communities, explored their importance in contemporary society, and celebrated them by providing accessible and joyful arts experiences. It is located in Austin, Texas, in the SoCo neighborhood—one of the city’s vibrant commercial and arts district.

For further information:
Sheree Scarborough
(512) 922-5483
For Big Squeeze information: Sarah Rucker/ (512) 441-9255

Titano Accordion Company

Victor Prieto Trio in New York City

by Rita Barnea
Victor PrietoThe Victor Prieto Trio with Edward Perez and Jordan Perlson will perform at the City Winery New Yorklocated on 155 Varick Street, New York, NY on February 2, 2014 at 11:AM.

Victor Prieto is a native of Galicia, Spain born in the town of Orense in 1975. At the age of nine Victor was encouraged by his mother to study the accordion-an instrument deeply ingrained in Galician folklore. Studying classical accordion at the Orense Conservatory Victor understood its immense potential.  

At Estudio Escola de Musica (Santiago de Compostela, Spain) Victor branched out from the classical education by studying harmony, arrangement and improvisation. In 1998 Victor received a scholarship from Berklee College of Music.  There he majored in performance under the direction of Joanne Brackeen.  At Berklee he created his own program combining the expertise offered by educators at Berklee to the accordion.

In 2002 Victor moved to New York where he quickly established himself as one of the most prolific and versatile accordionists on the World-music and Jazz scenes. 
Victor Prieto has changed the way musicians and spectators view accordion by revolutionizing both technique and sound. His love for the traditional Galician music and classical education enriches his compositions with explosive rhythm and colors uniquely combining Galician Roots, Celtic, Jazz, Tango, and Classical music.  Victor also developed a new technique for the accordion called “chord approach on both hands that creates rich and elaborate harmonies.
Victor performed and recorded with Yo-Yo Ma (Songs of Joy and Peace, Sony BMG Masterworks. "2010 Grammy Winning Album"), Arturo O'Farrill Latin Jazz Orchestra, Billy Hart, Paquito D’Rivera, Chris Cheek, Donny McCaslin, Lionel Louke among others and is involved in projects such as Christian Howes Group, Cristina Pato and Migrations, Emilio Solla’s Jazz Tango conspiracy and The Maria Schneider Orchestra.
As a leader Victor has performed at prestigious venues and events such as Berklee Performance Center, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Blue Note NY, New Jersey Performance Art Center, Three Rivers Musical Festival, Williamsburg Jazz Festival, Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center.
He teaches Master Classes in Spain, Italy, Portugal, USA and has headed the jazz accordion studies at the Brooklyn Conservatory (2003 – 2004).
Some of Victor’s awards and prizes are: The Creative Performer award from the Spanish Association of Artists and Performers, and the first prize at CMZK’s Concourse of Composition.

Victor's February 2014 performances include:
Feb. 2: City Winery
Feb. 6: Recording Session, Queens, NY
Feb. 11: Terraza 7 Live Music, Elmhurst, NY
March 9: City Winery, NY, NY
March 20: Terraza 7 Live Music, Elmhurst, NY

For further information on Victor's performances and CD's:

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

National Accordion Association (NAA) Convention in Texas from March 5-9

by Rita Barnea
NAA logo
Norman SeatonThe 28th 2014 National Accordion Association (NAA) Convention will be held from March 5-9, 2014 at the Southfork Hotel and Convention Center in Plano, Texas.

An exciting new concept will be implemented this year. Accordion ambassadors from China are scheduled to participate in the 2014 convention include Yiru Liu, Shusheng Wang, Yuanan Fan, Rui Liu and Annie Gong (China-New Zealand). Together, they will be representing Shandong University at Weihai, the Accordion Association of Shandong Province, National Accordion Association (China), Tianjin Conservatory of Music, Chinese Musicians Association, National Higher Education Accordion Society (China) and Roland Accordion.

Selected members of the National Accordion Association (USA) will teach sessions on classical, jazz and folk music, which are normally associated with the USA and European countries.

Attend the NAA Convention for:
1.  A true Texas atmosphere
2.  Workshops from professionals
3.  Join a Band - demonstrate your ability
4.  Jam Sessions - to the wee hours
5.  Concert time with the best
6.  Check the dealers - test a new instrument
7.  Sell one of yours at the swap shop
8.  Join the banquet ending - Conga Line

National Accordion Convention officials proudly announce the annual convention scheduled for March 6-8, 2014, located in the Dallas area. Included in this convention are the traditional concerts, workshops, open mikes, jam sessions, vendor presentations, banquet and many social events. As usual, NAA officials are experimenting with new ideas.

President Norman Seaton declare the week March 6-8 to be the “Plano, TX, Accordion Awareness Week.” The NAA will work with the Visitors and Convention Bureau to invite all area music teachers to attend (no charge). Included will be promotional material for adding accordions to their list of musical instruments.

Young musicians from the local bands are invited to bring their music instruments and play along with the youth band that includes more than accordions. The NAA will provide professional accordionists to perform in the hotel restaurant to entertain diners and to sell tickets to various convention events.

Special activities include:
Jazz Mini College: Initiate an introduction to jazz training that includes theory, demonstrations, application, practice, participation and finally a Certificate of Completion signed by the NAA President and Instructors.

International Music Festival: Convert the traditional Friday evening concert and dance into an International Music Festival complete with dancing, food, and two performance stages.

“Accordion-Free” Zone: Provide a “no-accordion” area for the general public and conventioneers who want a break from 24/7 accordion music. On Friday night, interested conventioneers are invited to join the ongoing Plano Poker Club that will meet in this “no-accordion” zone.  

For further information:
Phone:  214 938-5984 (cell)

Gary Daverne CD's and eSheet music available online

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

4 Music Books by Stas Venglevski

Aldo Mencaccini: Legend in the World of Accordion Manufacturing

by Suzanne Shayt
Aldo MencacciniThe mystique that accordion lovers associate with this instrument has legendary roots. The Italian craftsmen who learned how to build accordions as mere youngsters are truly fascinating and Aldo Mencaccini is one of those heros.
Aldo's attendance at the AAA (American Accordion Association) conference in NYC in August, 2013 was a bonus to many of the professionals in the business. So many of them express their admiration for his expertise in building accordions. After all, Aldo has been in the business since the age of 9 and he ended his career as founder and President of the Bell Accordion Company.

It was an honor to interview him along with some of his fans: Guenadiy Lazarov, owner of Accordion Gallery; Tommy and Annette Doyle, the owners of Busy Fingers Accordions in Florida; Paddy Noonan, a professional accordionist who remembers decades of doing business with Aldo; and Alex Carozza, owner of Alex Musical Instruments, who took over Aldo's business when he (Aldo) retired in 2006.
Paddy describes Aldo as a real charmer, a legendary Italian-American who was a genius in building and repairing accordions. This fascinating story begins here:


Aldo was born in 1920 in Rimini, located in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy on the Adriatic coast. He worked with the Galanti Brothers from the age of 9 in their accordion factory in Mondaino serving as an apprentice six days a week for 2 - 4 hours each day. By the age of 11 he had learned how to build his own accordion using parts that had been left for scrap in the factory's dumpster. Hearing Aldo talk about his life is like listening to a story-teller from long ago. It is compelling and magical.

When a large number of Italians started immigrating to the United States in the 20's and 30's, Galanti established a distribution center for their accordions at 10th and Broadway in NYC. At that time, Wanamaker's department store was located just across the street. Families would come long distances just to have the experience of shopping in this store so Galanti had a choice piece of real estate to promote his business.

Aldo took the plunge and crossed the Atlantic to work with the Galanti Brothers in New York but he was so poorly paid, that he only worked there for 3 and a half days. He remembers the experience vividly, just like it was yesterday. He only earned $3.50 for three and a half days of work, a miserable salary even at that time.

Meanwhile, Aldo's dad, who had attained American citizenship while serving in the US military, came to work as a laborer to prepare for the World's Fair hosted in 1939. The City hoped that this event would help lift New York out of its state of depression. This was a grand era of technological innovation and exploration. Aldo's thinking must have been greatly influenced by this energy for he was to become one of America's most sought-after masters in building and repairing accordions, an honorable trade indeed.

Excelsior was (and still is) a big name in the accordion industry and they noticed Aldo's name on a list of new immigrants which was published in a daily newspaper known as Il Progresso Italo-Americano. This newspaper is now considered a major source of documented immigration history and in American archives.
He was listed as an accordion craftsman and so Excelsior soon called him for a job interview. He was hired as a tuner and worked on the double tone chamber accordions. He was a highly valued worker and was compensated handsomely. Aldo's memory of this time is acute. He states that after working from Tuesday through Saturday at noon, he was paid exactly $124.25. That was a large sum of money back then.

As a dedicated son, Aldo gave all of his money to his parents to help support the family. His father shed tears when he saw Aldo's pay check. He couldn't help comparing his measly earnings as a laborer to what his son had made in just a few days on the job.

Over the next ten years (1937-1947) while working for Excelsior, he would tune the instruments of many great accordionists including Pietro Frosini, Peitro Diero, Charles Magnante and Anthony Galla-Rini. When Robert Pancotti, President of Excelsior, retired and left his business with his brother, Aldo decided to go on his own and establish his own factory in partnership with Emilio Baldoni. They called it the ACE Accordion Company. According to Aldo, he couldn't afford to pay two bosses so he left ACE with Emilio and proceeded to establish the Bell Accordion Company which became a competitive instrument of superb quality in America.

The accordion industry was booming and real estate was skyrocketing in value so this business was a success story.
Aldo calculates that it takes 1,325 man hours to create just one BELL accordion. His first factory was located at 114 E. 23rd Street on the 9th floor in a 5000 square foot loft. Later he moved the factory to a larger building in Northvale, NJ.
Success sometimes comes along with tragedy. The worst thing he had to face was a disastrous fire in 1976 at his factory in Northvale when a snow plough cut some electric wires and the fuse boxes failed. The explosion destroyed all of his tools resulting in 1.5 million dollars in damages. He was underinsured and lost most of it.

From there he moved to West Nyack just north of NYC near the Tappan Zee Bridge and later to Valley Cottage, also in New York. When he retired at the age of 86, he offered the BELL accordion business to Alex Carozza who owns and operates Alex Musical Instruments in addition to Alex Accordions on W. 48th Street.


When I was in the exhibition room at the AAA conference in New York City last August, 2013, I noticed a large group of people surrounding Aldo and I remarked to a bystander how he must know a lot of people. I was politely corrected. I was told, "Let's put it this way, it's not that he knows a lot of people, it's that a lot of people know him." That set me straight. Aldo was the star of the show. There was no doubt about that.

Seeking to know more about Aldo, I began speaking with some of those folks. I spoke with Guenadiy Lazarov who owns and operates Accordion Gallery, a business which specializes in restoring, repairing and selling accordions. He is an engineer by profession but decided to get into the accordion business and turned to Aldo Mencaccini for his training. In his estimation, he couldn't have found a better teacher.

Tommy and Annette Doyle, who own and operate Busy Fingers Accordions in Florida, say that Aldo is not only their mentor but that he treats them like family. When Aldo comes to Florida, he always visits Tommy to work with him on his accordions and Tommy says that Aldo will even help him over the phone. As a result, Tommy is the only one in Florida who can supply full service for any accordion. He can even make the cases. It helps tremendously that he was able to purchase a lot of Aldo's tools and he uses some of them as models to make new ones.
Just for the record, Tommy's son happens to live on the same street as Aldo up in Albany, NY. This is definitely a family meant to be!

Tommy testifies that when he travels to Castelfidardo with Aldo, he (Aldo) is treated like royalty. They wine him and dine him. He is truly an Italian-American hero and his heart is in Italy.

Paddy Noonan, an Irish-American accordionist who performs music for all occasions, spoke about the many musicians who would visit Aldo in his Bell Accordion shop in West Nyack on Saturdays. Paddy describes these experiences with great delight. The shop was large and well-stocked. They sold organs and other electronic instruments including the Bell Duovox accordion that came with a heavy amplifier.

Musicians would come from all over the state to shop, request service on their instruments and meet up with others to share experiences. The shop was a growing concern.

Paddy was a long-time customer at the shop. His dealings with Aldo go back several decades. In his words, "When Aldo goes, he will be hard to replace." It is true that the skills of the European craftsmen are treasures that must be passed on down to the next generation or they will be lost.

Alex Carozza is a serious accordion repairman who owns and operates Alex Musical Instruments and Alex & Bell Accordions on W. 48th Street in New York City. Aldo recognizes Alex not just as a savvy businessman but also as an excellent master of accordion repair. After six decades of working in the industry, Alex still works six days a week repairing and selling accordions. He is devoted to this business with all his heart and soul.

When Aldo retired in 2006, he offered the Bell Accordion Company to Alex because he had so much confidence in his ability to make accordion repairs. To this day, Alex builds Bell accordions in collaboration with the Italian craftsmen in Castelfidardo. The Bell Borsini is a professional instrument known for its rich bass, high quality reeds and tone chamber.
Speaking with Alex in August, I learned that he emigrated as a young man from Italy to Argentina where he worked in a shop that made 300 accordions each month. That was when the business was really booming. Go tango!

He began learning the trade from his father when he was 12. After repairing and selling accordions in Argentina for ten years, Alex got discouraged by the corruption and decided to move to New York where he managed to continue working with what he has always loved.


Receiving accolades for what one has done to help others throughout one's life is the greatest gift that one can receive. By writing this short article to summarize what I learned in speaking with Aldo, Guenadiy, Tommy, Annette, Paddy and Alex, I realize more than ever that one's accomplishments in life are precious.

It is honorable to master a craft. To have the dedication, the passion, the discipline, the wisdom and the opportunity to craft our lives around what we love is a great skill. It doesn't go unrecognized and when it happens it is a marvelous thing.
My sincerest thanks to all of you who shared your thoughts with me so that I could write this article. I really appreciated learning about your experiences.

For further information:

Amy Jo Sawyer CD titled According to Amy

Peter Soave Performs with Detroit Symphony Orchestra String Quartet

by Rita Barnea
Peter SoaveOn January 14, 2014, The Detroit Symphony Orchestra invited their audience to bring dancing shoes and yoga mats to a new offering in their "Mix @ The Max" concert series, presented in the Music Box space at the Max M. Fisher Music Center.

Virtuoso accordionist Peter Soave joined forces with a Detroit Symphony Orchestra string quartet to present a fiery, tango-inspired performance including works by Astor Piazzolla and other masters of the form. Dancing was encouraged.

Soave is recognized worldwide as the foremost master of the bandoneon and concert accordion. He has performed with the San Francisco Symphony, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony, the Phoenix Symphony and many other ensembles in the U.S. and around the world.

Peter Soave is a dedicated and focused musician. His life aspirations include the desire to develop, to the fullest extent possible, the musical talents he was born with, thereby furthering the recognition and acceptance of the accordion family of instruments.

Peter was born in the U.S. on March 4, 1964, to parents recently arrived from Italy. His earliest memories are of Italian music played on an accordion, and he insists that by age three, he was certain of his life's work. When he was five, his Mother and Father finally allowed him to begin lessons.

He played a piano accordion, which is to Americans the most familiar accordion type. He discovered jazz as a youth, using as mentors both accordion jazz greats such as Art Van Damme and Leon Sash, and also great musicians such as Davis, Bird, and Diz. He quickly broadened his horizons to include classical music of many composers. He has deepened his classical ambitions and skills over the intervening years so that his chief musical interests now are classical.

By age sixteen he began to enter international accordion competitions and quickly learned the limitations of his instrument. The piano accordion had been superceded by an instrument called the bayan, which was being used by most of his competitors. So Peter, with the coaching and support of his instructor, Lana Gore, decided to switch instruments. This meant relearning both the left and the right hand keyboards and adding 50% more range for the right hand and 300% more for the left. The bayan enabled Peter to extend his repertoire to include compositions which were impossible to play on a piano accordion.

Peter Soave returned to Europe playing a bayan and swept the competitions. Four times. Soave has long been fascinated and inspired by the innovative compositions of Argentinean Astor Piazzolla. He arranged Piazzolla's music for his bayan, performed it at every opportunity and included two Piazzolla selections on his first CD, Pride and Passion. Soave decided to interpret Piazzolla as authentically as possible and is now performing with the tango accordion called the bandoneón, the instrument Piazzolla used.

Peter performs extensively in both the United States and Europe. His recent schedule included concerts with the Grand Rapids, Saginaw, Phoenix and Detroit symphonies and with the Ohio Chamber Orchestra. He has completed a recording of the Piazzolla "Tango Sensations" with the Klima String Quartet of Zagreb and a recording of the Piazzolla "Concerto for Bandoneón and Orchestra" with the Moscow Philharmonic.

Peter believes that musical ability is a gift given to us by a greater force. He was blessed, he says, with more than an average amount of that gift and he is extremely thankful that it was recognized and nurtured in a positive manner. More and more international critics recognize Peter Soave not only as a unique talent in the concert field but also as the premier bandoneón and accordion virtuoso in the world.

Titano Accordion Company

Accordionist/Actress Nora Kirkpatrick

by Rita Barnea
Nora Kirkpatrick
Nora Kirkpatrick is a singer, actress, accordionist, and composer. She is a founding member and accordionist with the group, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes. She also played the love interest of Dwight on The Office.

29 year old Nora Kirkpatrick graduated from UCLA in 2007 with a degree in Theatre Film and Television. She is probably best known for her role as Katherine, the stern president of Panhellenic, on the ABC Family TV series Greek. Before Greek she worked on another college themed show, the popular mockumentary web series called Dorm Life, where she played Courtney Cloverlock.

She had a recurring role on the ninth season of The Office as Esther Bruegger, a neighboring farmer's daughter who becomes Dwight's girlfriend. She plays the accordion in the band Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

Jeff Lisenby CD A Spy In Tortuga

The Biography of Joe Escalante—The Accordion Abuser

by Cindy H
Joe and Ruben
Joe Escalante at a church festival in San Antonio, Texas.
In the South Texas area, he is known as “The Abuser” or “The Accordion Abuser” because of the way his fingers hammer down on the buttons of his accordion. Mr. Joe Escalante carries over forty years of musical experience around his shoulders, and he has recorded with many greats in the Tejano and Conjunto industry. His original style of accordion playing can be considered in a category all by itself. It doesn’t take one long to realize that Joe Escalante is a world-class accordionist after listening to the air vibrate across the reeds of his squeeze box. With a smile on his face Joe says, “I’m always ready for the stage, as long as there is life in my fingers.”

Jose Guadalupe Mora Escalante was born on January 21, 1950, in Edcouch, Texas, or where many Tejanos refer to as “The Valley” or “El Valle.” Joe’s beloved parents are Guadalupe Escalante and Rosaria Mora Escalante, and his siblings are Juan Escalante, Rosa Montes, and Lupe Hernandez. Although Joe’s father, Guadalupe, also played the accordion, the musicians come from his mother’s side of the family. “You could hear my family play for miles out...that animal skin on the drum was really something,” Joe says as he reminisces playing with his family as a child. At a very young age, his family uprooted and moved to Hillsboro, Texas. It was there that he listened to the polka called “Atotonilco” by Tony De La Rosa. It was this polka by the legendary Tony De La Rosa that inspired Joe to pick up his first accordion, and he hasn’t put it down since.

Although Joe collaborated with many great musicians throughout his career, he first played with Los Luceros in the early 1960s at the tender age of 13. Los Luceros was comprised of Robert Requeña-bass, Angel Garcia-vocals, Joe Escalante-accordion, Arturo Losano-drums, and Juan Escalante-bajo sexto. In his early twenties, Joe played with the band Los Majikos at well-known clubs in the Dallas, Texas, area such as Guys & Dolls, Rocket Ballroom, and the Tango Club to name a few. In 1979, Joe moved back to The Valley and joined the band Cecilio Garza y Los Casinos, where he recorded both the “Mi Rancherita” and the “Muchacho Alegre” albums. Joe also collaborated in the arrangements of the “Muchacho Alegre” album.

In the early 1980s, Joe had the unique opportunity to play with two Conjunto icons: Ramiro De La Cruz (or most notably known as “Snowball”) and Tacho. Over the years, Joe and Snowball became great friends and musical soul brothers until Snowball’s passing in 2010. While performing with his band mates Snowball and Tacho, Joe recorded albums such as “Tres Semanas” and “En Mi Vida.” Later, he went on to join Mel Villareal y Los Unicos and recorded songs like “Pobre Gorrion” and “Leña de Pirul” while touring all over the United States.

In the late 1980s, Joe played with the band called Los Sheekanos and participated in the making of the “Far Out” album. Most notably, he also participated in the arrangements, which were the originals, to the famous song later recorded by Elsa Garcia called “Ya Te Vi.”

The 1990s were a joyride for Joe Escalante playing alongside some of Conjuntos most famous artists. Joe was a part of Tejano Power Jam, which included Joe’s beloved band mate and dear friend Snowball, Cecilio Garza, and Captain Dave. Some of the most notable songs recorded were “El Palomito” and “Alma Rendida.” On a date night with his wife, Joe ended up on stage with Augustine Ramirez and was later asked to join his band. With Augustine Ramirez, Joe went on to record the song “Tres Ramitas” and jammed all over the United States. Around the same time, Joe also joined the already famous band Grupo Mazz with Joe Lopez and Jimmy Gonzales. When talking about his band mate Joe Lopez of Grupo Mazz Joe says, “Let me tell you something. Joe Lopez had the party voice, and he still!” In his spare time, Joe worked on his personal project, an album appropriately called “Polkitas with Heart and Soul.” Joe also played with a band called La Fuerza from Weslaco, Texas, for a couple of years and went on to record an album with Yolanda Davila at Freddie Records called “Un Sueño.”

Much of Joe’s musical career halted around 2000, and as Joe puts it, he wanted to lay low for a while. So he moved to Arkansas for ten years and played in local venues. Between 1999 and 2010, Joe lived in California, Georgia, Texas, and in 2011, he found his way back home to The Valley. It was there that he played with Cecilio Garza at Don Chilos Bar & Grill on many occasions. Later that year, Joe moved to Texas where he currently resides today. While in Texas, Joe played in local venues in the Dallas Fort Worth area with talented musicians like Carlos Galvan, Raymond Barron III, and his beloved friend Snowball to form the band Vandido. Joe says, “I had wanted to play with my old friend Snowball for a long time, and I finally did!”

Like a true musician Joe proclaims, “The worst moments of my life were my best times in my musical career according to my heart. I was playing with who I wanted to play with, and I was a happy musician.” This all changed in 2009 with the passing of his mother, which he took very hard. Soon after in 2010, his band mate and best friend, Snowball, passed away which sank him even more into sadness. “This can’t be the end,” he told himself “so colge los guantes por awitado” he sadly remembers. Then in July 2012, Joe received an unexpected call from a talented young singer/musician named Ruben Rodriquez Jr., who had recently moved back home to Dallas, Texas, and formed the band Ruben Y Su Klika Tejana. Joe remembers like it was yesterday when Ruben said, “Mr. Escalante, I’m looking for an accordion player.” Soon after the last note was played on the very first song they practiced together, which was “La Unica Estrella,” Joe placed his accordion on the floor, extended his hand to Ruben, and said “Ruben, I’ll follow you wherever you want to go.” Joe and Ruben have been inseparable ever since. Joe Escalante is currently playing alongside Ruben Rodriguez Jr. with the Conjunto band Ruben y Su Klika Tejana from Dallas, Texas. “I’m not a quitter,” Joe says as he turns to look at Ruben, and with a smile Joe states, “Now let me tell you something. I’ve been jamming since the Kennedy days, so now we’re gonna jam!”

For further information:,
Ruben Y Su Klika Tejana

Video: Alicia Baker Demonstrating at the Winter NAMM Show 2014 - USA

by Harley Jones
Alicia Baker demonstrating the Roland FR-8X Digital V-Accordion at NAMM Music Show 2014, Los Angeles. Published on 25th January, 2014.

The International Trio, CD Available online, secure server

Long Island Accordion Alliance features Paolo Belanich

by Rita Barnea
Paul BelanichThe Long Island Accordion Alliance (LIAA) sponsored by La Villini Restaurant presents an evening of accordion music and featured guest artist, Paul Belanich, on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 6:PM.

Paul Belanich started to play the accordion at 5 years old. Born on St. Peter's Island (Ilovik) the northern part of the Croatian Adriatic Sea, where the accordion is the center of entertainment, he played his father's diatonic button accordion as his father and uncles did.

Presently, Paul performs with his brother in the Tri State area. He entertains in Slovenian and Austrian polka styles with a blend of Valtaro Musette flavor which he grew up with. Performing and playing mostly by ear he has recently recorded some of his music which consists of different rhythms other than polka and waltzes.

Paul also sings in English, Croatian and Italian. Paul always says, "What fires me up the most and gives my heart the happiest feeling, is the polka music itself. Playing accordion since the early 60's, my love for the accordion is the same today as it was back then. I just hope that one day the American public realizes how beautiful the accordion is as a musical instrument."

Be there Wednesday, Feb. 5th, 2014 at 6:PM at
La Villini Restaurant, 288 Larkfield Road, East Northport, NY
Call: 631-261 – 6344
Reservations are recommended.

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

17 year old John Orischa to Perform for the Michigan Accordion Society

by Rita Barnea
John OrischaPresident Joe Recchia and the Michigan Accordion Society are pleased to announce their February MAS Music Event on Tuesday, February 18, 2014 featuring 17 year old accordion bayanist John Orischa from Dearborn Michigan.

The program is open to the public and there will also be an open mike forum. Please bring your instruments. In addition to great music there will be pizza, snacks, and a cash bar.

The event will start at 7:PM at the Forestre Banquet Center, 1919 Star-batt Drive, Rochester Hills, MI (located on the West end of the Concorde Inn at M-59 and Crooks Road).

Pictured are accordionists John Orischa with his teacher and MAS Business supporter Mr. Pavel Vasilev, proprietor of The Music Authority in Dearborn, MI.

For further information:

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

Future events

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

"From Broadway to the Met….plus" on Feb. 19th

by Rita Barnea
Dominic KarcicThe next session of "From Broadway to the Met" featuring vocalist Cheryl Spielman and accordionist Dominic Karcic takes place at La Villini Restaurant,288 Larkfield Road, East Northport, NY 11731 ion Wednesday, Feb. 19th at 6 PM.

Come out for a wonderful evening of fine food and great music!  Plan your family / organization event, birthday celebration, anniversary around "From Broadway to the Met .. plus." See what the great reviews are about!  You will have a great evening!

For information and reservations: 631-261-6344

The Art of Playing the Accordion Artistically by Friedrich Lips

AAMS French Concert on March 28, 2014

by Rita Barnea
AAMS Friday Events
"The French Experience" concert with MC Bruce Gassman will take place on Friday, March 28, 2014 7:30 PM at the Hanover Marriott, 1401 Route 10 East, Whippany, NJ. Admission with festival day pass or a $10.00 donation.

Headlining will be "The Crawdaddies" with accordionist Kraig Greff. Accordionist and songwriter Kraig Greff was the recipient of three 2008 Emmy Awards! - The Crawdaddies were invited to perform with Dr. John and the Neville Brothers on the 2009 Mardi Gras Mambo tour! Expect a lively mix of French Louisiana's Cajun / Zydeco / and New Orleans Funk.

Also an accomplished session pianist, Greff brings with him the experience of years of international touring. His keyboard talents have backed such greats as jazz legends Joe Williams, Della Reese, Dianna Ross and Barry White. He has also performed as a guest artist with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

In addition to being Musical Director and performing with The Crawdaddies and occasionally with jazz and big bands, Kraig's company, Tonal Vision LLC, creates music, audio, video and multimedia productions

Accordionist Dallas Vietty performs with the Musette Project which explores the French accordion waltz music of 20′s-50′s known as Musette. Sometimes called Swing Musette or Bebop musette, it is a genre within a genre most closely connected with the music called Gypsy Jazz/Jazz Manouche. Luke Hendon and Ben Wood play guitar with the grip.

Enjoy the delight of traditional Musette with Dee Langley. Winner of the 2011-2012 McKnight Fellowship for Performing Musicians and 2012 Minnesota Emerging Composer Award (Orkestar Bez Ime - World Music).

Joanna Darrow has performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra, performs internationally and is Co-Director of Acme Accordion School and the AAMS. Joanna will share the elegant music JP Rameau.

This concert sponsored by Rik Kaplan on behalf of the American Accordion Musicological Society. (AAMS)

Festival doors open at 6:PM with a Hot Gypsy Jazz Workshop at 6:15 PM presented by Dallas Vietty. Don't miss it!

For further information:

Accordion Repairs Made Easy by John Reuther

Jim Vandelly to be Honored at 2014 AAMS Banquet

by Rita Barnea
Jim Vandelly
Jim VandellyThe American Accordion Musicological Society in conjunction with the Mid Atantic Music Teachers Guild presents Accordion Extravaganza 2014 honoring Accordionist Jim Vandelly on Saturday, March 29, 2014 at The Hanover Marriott Hotel, 1401 Route 10 East, Whippany, NJ.

In 1948, a traveling representative of the Rosita Lee Studios knocked on the door of the Vandelly family in Townsend, Massachusetts. He showed Jim a twelve-base accordion, and that started his adventures in the accordion world. The representative was George Janis, and he was Jim’s teacher until 1955, when the Vandelly’s moved to Los Angeles.

Jim continued taking lessons in Alhambra from Sam Petrone for two years. But it was George Janis who will be remembered fondly in Jim’s memory. Many years later, in 1961, Janis and his combo played at Oak Hill Country Club, in Fitchburg—and Jim was working there for the summer. Jim bought Janis’ private accordion, and played it for 30 years.

While in the USAF in Texas, Jim began to play solo gigs at the Officer’s Club at Goodfellow AFB, and at the River Club in San Angelo. When Jim and his wife Kathy moved to the D.C. area in 1968, Jim played several gigs on both piano accordion and Russian balalaika at private parties and at the Smithsonian Institution’s ethnic music weeks in Decembers in the early 1980s.

In 1993, the Balalaika Domra Society of America went on a floating music tour from Moscow to St. Petersburg. Many members of the Washington Balalaika Society were also members of the BDAA. Jim played at Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Hall, Yaroslavl Concert Hall, and Glinka Hall in St. Petersburg. In 1997, when Jim retired from his 28-year teaching career, he met Stan and Joanna, and took a few lessons to improve his playing, the then joined the AAMS. He competed in a few AAMS conventions thereafter.

In 1989, Jim joined the newly-formed Washington Balalaika Society, as its first accordion player. He remained with WBS through 2001. He joined with several members of the WBS, and they were the Beltway Balalaikas ensemble. Jim played Russian bayan and piano accordion with the BB’s for several years. The ensemble played at an Inaugural Ball for President George W. Bush in January of 2001. Thereafter, the “BB’s” played at the British and Russian embassies on several occasions.

Jim travelled to Stockholm, Sweden in 2000 and 2001, as a guest accordionist with the Kazbek Russian Orchestra. His Swedish friends were also members of the Balalaika/Domra Association of America. While continuing membership in the AAMS, Jim joined the newly-formed Washington Metropolitan Accordion Society in 2004, and has been a continuing member of both organizations.

Accordionists Bruce Gassman and Lou Persic will provide music during the dinner. Following the banquet, there will be an exciting concert which includes: Featured Guest and Honoree Jim Vandelly, Westmont Philharmonia Accordion Orchestra and Westmont Accordion Club, Potomac Accordion Ensemble conducted by Joan Grauman, Mary Tokarski, Lenn Feldmann, Dr. Robert McMahan, Bernie Gardzalla, and Suzy Andrew.

At this time, the US premiere of Bjorn Bolstad Skelbred's composition "ConVerGence" for which will be performed by Dr. David Bebe (cello) and Rocco Anthony Jerry (accordion).

Honorees of the American Accordion Musicological Society:
2014 Jim Vandelly
2013 Beverly Roberts Curnow - PA
2012 Dan Desiderio-PA
2011 Mary Tokarski - CT
2009 Dr. Robert McMahan- NJ
2008 Rik Kaplan - D.C.
2007 Lenn Feldmann & Stan Darrow
2006 Dr. Lou Persic— PA
2005 Anthony Ettore— NY
2004 Joe Axsmith— PA
2003 Carmelo Pino - Wash. DC
2002 Charles Nunzio—NJ
2001 Sherrie Darrow-NJ
2000 Dr. J. C. Neupauer—PA
1999 Carmen Carrozza—NY
1998 Mervin Conn—Wash. DC
1997 Samuel Fire—PA
1996 Msg. Stanley Kloskowski—NJ

Reservations deadline is March 10, 2014.
For more information and reservations:
Joanna Arnold Darrow

Accordion Pops Orchestra Presents Tribute to Carmen Carrozza

by Rita Barnea
Accordion Pops Orchestra Poster
The Accordion Pops Orchestra conducted by Al Terzo will present a tribute to the late great classical accordionist Carmen Carrozza on Sunday, April 27th, 2014 at 2:PM at the Hunterdon Hills Playhouse in Hampton, New Jersey.

Lenny Feldmann will be the commentator and master of ceremonies.  Norway's accordion virtuoso Håvard Svensrud, who performed with the orchestra at Kean University in October 2013, will return as a featured soloist.

Dinner and concert tickets are $50. All proceeds will benefit the Carmen Carrozza Scholarship Fund.
For tickets and information:
Rosemarie Cavanaugh 732-257-8198
For information about the Accordion Pops Orchestra:

AAA Festival July 9-13, 2014 in Tarrytown, NY

by Rita Barnea
AAA LogoFollowing the great success of the 75th Anniversary AAA Festival in NYC, the AAA is proud to announce the 2014 AAA Festival to be held at the Double Tree Hotel in Tarrytown, New York from July 9-13, 2014.

There will be several prize categories including the Carrozza Scholarship; Belfiore Entertainment; Tony Dannon Jazz. The Festival will feature interesting workshops and talented performers.

More details will be available in future issues of the USA News.
For further information:

Plan to Hear Alex Meixner in 2014

by Rita Barnea
Alex Meixner
Alex MeixnerAlex Meixner is a vibrant, innovative and accomplished musician. This is the year for you to plan on seeing one of his shows. He travels extensively and always brings audiences to a high level of excitement and accordion enjoyment!

Alex Meixner’s performing career began at age 6 with his two sisters and father in an ethnic folk ensemble. From these early experiences through headline appearances at music festivals throughout the US; concert performances with the London Symphony Orchestra, Sandy Duncan and his own jazz and ethnic ensembles; as well as over 50 recordings, Meixner has developed a unique musical mix that appeals to a wide cross-section of audiences.

Meixner’s formative musical studies were on piano and piano accordion, but he quickly branched out on drums, diatonic button accordion, bass and trumpet, his college major. This instrumental versatility is combined with a musical background that has included intense studies and performance of jazz, classical, pop, polkas and many ethnic folk music genres with some of the leading artists in the world. His talents in music and comedy were even featured on the Tonight Show on NBC in 2004. Most recently, his “Polka Freak Out” CD with Bubba Hernandez garnered a Grammy nomination in December, 2007.
Currently based in Palm City, FL, Alex is performing as a solo artist and with numerous touring ensembles.  

His solo programs- “Fascinating Rhythms of the World” focus on the fusion of Slavic folk music and Jazz, but also include the inflections of folk, pop and classical styles from Latin America, Africa and other sections of Europe. This music is the basis for a series of multi-cultural music education seminars and performances which are currently available through the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts “Artists in Education” program.

Alex also leads The Alex Meixner Band in performances throughout North America. Whether you are looking for sure fire crowd pleasing family entertainment, something for the senior audience, classy jazz for a reception or a unique party band- Alex Meixner will work tirelessly to provide the perfect mix for your event.

When Alex is not performing with all of these groups, he is devoted to bringing music to students through educational clinics, as well as his private teaching. 

Upcoming Appearances:
• 03/04/14 
New Braunfels, TX at Brauntex Theater . Cory Pesaturo will open the show.
• 03/13/14 - 03/17/14 
Panama City Beach, FL at Hofbräu Beer Garden
• 03/28/14 - 03/30/14 
Tomball, TX at Tomball German Heritage Festival
• 04/12/14 
Casselberry, FL at German American Society
• 04/30/14 
Lindenhurst, NY at Village Lanterne
• 05/01/14 
New York, NY at Reichenbach Hall
• 05/02/14 
Reading, PA at Reading Liederkranz
• 05/03/14 
Hoboken, NJ at Pilsener Haus

Voci Armoniche

ATG Festival July 23-26,2014 in San Francisco

by Rita Barnea
ATG President Betty Jo Simon invites everyone to attend the 74th Annual Festival and Competition which will be held in San Francisco at the Crowne Plaza Airport Hotel in Burlingame, California from July 23-26, 2014. The featured guest artists will be Stas Venglevski and Frank Petrilli.

This will be the second time the ATG Festival will be in San Francisco so you can look forward to reconnecting with West Coast friends and musicians. Mark your calendars and start saving for this great event.

For further information:

Pigini USA distributor Ernest Deffner


by William Schimmel
AAA Banner
Dr. William SchimmelThe American Accordionists' Association Master Class and Concert Series will celebrate its 20th Anniversary season on August 1, 2 and 3 2014 at the Tenri Cultural Institute of New York.

The Title is: "THE EVERYDAY ACCORDION: ORDINARY X PROPER = RADIANT". The moderator/curator, Dr. William Schimmel states that it will be one of the best ones yet: intriguing workshops, stellar performances and, most of all, a collegial attitude in its presentation.

What makes the Seminars different than any other event concerning the accordion? THE THIRTEEN POINTS:

1. The weekend is totally about the accordion and its culture. No stars – only the accordion.

2.The weekend is entirely non-competitive.

3. We present ideas and we are always learning.

4. We provide and intimate atmosphere which empowers anyone who chooses to attend.

5. We listen to every idea that is presented to us and we take it seriously. No one is ridiculed or put down over an idea that doesn't seem to “fly” at the moment.

6. Everything is presented in a clear cut fashion. Everyone who attends will understand what we are saying or doing. There is no esoteric shop talk.

7. There is something for everyone. If you attend, we urge you to “stick it out” and suspend your judgment. There will be inevitably something for you in it.

8. We present innovative information and yet we always present too much of it. Our concerts are a bit too long and our workshops make one's head spin. One participant said that her head spun for over a year due to all of the information that was presented in a short span of time.

9. Many of the spectators become actual participants in time. We are interested in everyone who attends. We are interested in helping you realize your goals. Anyone may attend – at any level. All we ask of you is to come with an open mind and most of all, a warm heart.

10. There is a certain “humility” to those who attend an participate at the Seminars. Ironically, many of the participants and presenters come from the greatest universities and conservatories in the world. We span the horizon: Juilliard, Peabody, Mannes, Oberlin, New England Conservatory, Columbia, NYU, Harvard, Yale – yet there is a certain “humility” in those who are there to serve the accordion in the best light that they can. They consider it to be a privilege and, yes, it can be humbling at times. Although we believe that there is something for everyone in the Seminars, we also realize that they may not be for everyone. This may sound like a contradiction.

11. We raise the bar extremely high yet we also present ideas that show the accordion in new and unusual manners as well as new takes on old ideas. This may be at times startling, due to the fact that our ideas about technique and process in general may differ greatly from conservatories and academic institutions – yet still maintain a “schooled” philosophy due to the “rub” and friction between the two. This is part of what we call “The built in ironic duality”. We revel in the “rub”. We don't look for the easy way out.

12. We believe that the accordion is in a better place since the Seminars. And we say that proudly and we also say it with humility. Time out New York has called the Seminars “ The Apotheosis of the Accordion” - the laboratory where ideas are bred. Accordions Worldwide has stated: “Once again, Dr. Schimmel, aided and abetted by his dancer wife Micki Goodman, has unstintingly and imaginatively produced and event that appears to be unlike any other in its scope and imaginativeness.”

13. If you feel that the Seminars are for you – join us next year for our 20th Aniversary!

Deiro delights – Ettore elaborates – Frosini Fascillitates – Ellegaard is elegant – Magnante magnifies – Palmer is pedagogy – John Gart grabs you WHAT IS IT THAT YOU DO? FIND OUT – AT THE SEMINARS!

Participants come from the local New York area, across the United States as well as China, Japan, Argentina, Croatia and Norway.

Featured participants and performers include:
Micki Goodman, Paul Stein, Dr. Robert Young Mc Mahan, Will Holshouser, Art Bailey, Doug Makofka, Ingrid Kvale, Brian Dewan, Martini Li, Yoichi Fukui, Melissa Elledge, Mark Nathanson, Benjamin Ickies, Godfrey Nelson, Lorraine Nelson Wolf, Dragica Banic-Curcic, Peter Flint, Erica Mancini, Dr. Ronald Sarno, Dave Soldier, Mayumi Miyaoka, Tomoko Sugawara, Hu Jianbing, Rachel Swaner, Genevieve Leloup, Joy Betchler, Robert Haulfrecht, Dan Simon, Di J Noizepunk, Jed Distler, Patrick Grant, Joseph Pehrson, Dejan Bosovic, Mary Tokarski, Julie Cardona, Michael Dames. Dr. Rocco Jerry, David Stoler, Peter Jarvis, David First, Dr. Hugo Goldenzweig, Lee Mc Clure, Ken Laufer, John Foti, Kathleen Tipton, Marni Rice, Bob Goldberg, Corn Mo, Di J Noizepunk (Gene Pritsker), Dan Cooper, Patrick Grant, Joe Pehrson, Milica Paranosic, Demetrius Spaneas, Dr. William Schimmel and many more to be announced.

For further information:
CD's and compositions available online at: William Schimmel
© 2022 Accordion USA. All rights reserved. To comment on these pages, e-mail the webmaster.