Accordion USA
home articles organizations
Search on site


Yellow Pages Events

U.S. National Accordion News - 01-Oct-2012
Previous News | Past News Index | Next News

Titano Accordion Company


Editor's Note
Octoberfest Las Vegas International Accordion Festival Ready to Start - USA
Harley Jones Awarded the Premio "Paolo Soprani" Prize, Spoleto - Italy
BREAKING NEWS: Passing of Vincent Cirelli
The Accordion. A Bridge from One Generation to Another - Carmen Carrozza
62nd Trophée Mondiale October 23-27 in Spokane, Washington
Tribute and Scholarship Festival Honoring Tony Dannon
Orange County Accordion Festival on October 14
Golden Accordion Couple: Anita and Bob Siarkowski
Jane Christison's CD Submitted to Recording Academy
New Hampshire Accordion Association and Massachusetts Accordion Association Celebrate Oktoberfest
Florida Smash November 9-11

Voci Armoniche

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

Vince Cirelli Interview
Dr. Robert Young McMahan in October Performances
Emilio Magnotta in New Location
Spotlight on Multi-talented Young Accordionist, Peter Chudolij
The Great American Polkafest in Reno, Nevada
Charlie Fontana to Perform at LIAA
Alex Chudolij to Perform for Massachusetts Accordion Association
Long Island Accordion Alliance Visits Village Lanterne

Pigini USA distributor Ernest Deffner

Future events

Joe Soprani to Receive Prestigious Award
Cory Pesaturo In Concert
Mario Tacca and Mary Mancini in October Performances
Dr. William Schimmel's Performance Schedule
November 3rd Workshops With Joan Grauman in Williamsburg, Virginia
Celebrate National Accordion Month at Acme Accordion School in November
Paul Betken Pays Tribute to Leon Sash at Florida Smash

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



Editor's Note

by Rita Barnea
Editor Rita DavidsonOctober is the month for attending an Oktoberfest. It is also time to read about the versatility of the accordion.The personal interest stories this month feature accordionists ranging in age from 5 years old to 91 years old!

How is this possible?

You will have to read the October news to find out more about accordionists….. their CD's, concerts, weddings, tributes, and festivals.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. I can always be reached at Please let me know about your accordion organization or accordion activities.

Accordion Repairs Made Easy by John Reuther

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

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

Harley Jones Awarded the Premio "Paolo Soprani" Prize, Spoleto - Italy

by Mirco Patarini
Harley Jones receives award
Award for Harley JonesThe Premio "Paolo Soprani" award in 2012 was awarded to Harley Jones (New Zealand), Director of Accordions Worldwide, in recognition of his work promoting the accordion via the Internet.

The presentation was made on stage at the 2012 Coupe Mondiale by Mirco Soprani, Mayor of Castelfidardo and Vincenzo Canali, President of the International Accordion Museum of Castelfidardo. Also present on stage was CIA President Raymond Bodell and 2012 Coupe Mondiale Artistic Director Mirco Patarini. Picture above.

Harley Jones, was thrilled with the Premio "Paolo Soprani" award statue which is the design creation of famous Italian sculptor Franco Campanari and is a real work of art in bronze, coming complete in a specially designed box with a published book about the art of Franco Campanari.

The award inscription said: (Italian: a Harley Jones, per la sua vita, la sua passiona e la sua dedizione esclusiva alla Fisarmonica) in English: "to Harley Jones, for his life, his passion and exclusive dedication to the Accordion".

Picture left is the beautiful award statue.

Previous awards were to:
2010 Gian Mario Spacca, President of Marche Region
2011 Vincenzo Canali, President of Accordion Museum in Castelfidardo

Harley Jones thanked the "team of Accordions Worldwide including Holda Paoletti-Kampl, Kevin Friedrich, Rita Davidson, Li Cong, Roberto Zambelli, Rob Howard, our translators and the AWW staff for all they had done for accordion and the internet to also achieve this award."

Photo below: Vincenzo Canali (President of the International Accordion Museum of Castelfidardo), Premio "Paolo Soprani" recipient Harley Jones, Mirco Patarini (2012 Coupe Mondiale Artistic Director) and Mirco Soprani (Mayor of Castelfidardo).
Harley Jones Receives Award

Titano Accordion Company

BREAKING NEWS: Passing of Vincent Cirelli

by Rita Barnea
Vincent CirelliVincent Cirelli, age 91, revered accordion craftsman, loving father, trusted friend to many, passed away peacefully in his sleep on Saturday, September 29, 2012.

Vincent, the son of Italian immigrants, born on December 21, 1920, grew up in the North Beach area of San Francisco. There he began learning the art of accordion building, developing skills as a young boy that he perfected throughout his lifetime.

His talent, coupled with a warm hearted, sincere demeanor, garnered him the respect and adoration of many who crossed his path. Upon serving honorably in the U.S Coast Guard, Vincent returned home after World War II. He traveled around the country for two years playing one of his specially made accordions on a train tour sponsored by the Knights of Columbus.

In 1946 Vincent opened his accordion business in San Francisco where he began growing his business into a distinguished hub for musicians in the Bay Area and throughout the United States. He had an enduring career for nearly 65 years doing what he loved, and more importantly, surrounded by those he loved.

He is survived by his loving children, Diane Marie Smith and Vincent Felice Cirelli; grandchildren Sheri Ann Carter, Vincent Joseph Cirelli, and Vincent George Smith; great-grandchildren; Alyssa Ann Cirelli, Victoria Marie Carter, and Caden Carmello Carter. He is preceded in death by his loving wife of 49 years, Ann Victoria Pirolo, parents Felice and Carmella Cirelli, and his sister Alice Vorhis.

Family and friends may visit on Thursday, October 4, 2012 after 4:00 PM and are welcome to attend the Vigil service at 7:00 PM at CHAPEL OF THE HIGHLANDS, 194 Millwood Drive at El Camino Real in Millbrae.

Private services and interment will be at Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma. The family suggests memorial contributions be made to the Alzheimer's Association .

See interview of Vince by Sheri Mignano Crawford in the Reports Section of this issue.

Voci Armoniche

The Accordion. A Bridge from One Generation to Another - Carmen Carrozza

by Rita Barnea
Carmen Carrozza and Gia Ciccone
Gia CicconeCarmen Carrozza, highly respected and honored accordionist, is now involved, at the age of 91, in a most important endeavor….. transferring his legacy to his 5 year old great niece, Gia Ciccone! This is a wonderful example of how the study and love of the accordion/music transcends all ages. You are never too young or old to begin the study of music.

Gia's father, Dr. Joseph Ciccone, a chiropractor in New York, accomplished accordionist and Governing Board Member of the American Accordionists' Association, is thrilled that his daughter is embarking on a journey to carry on the family tradition of playing the accordion. When Alex Carozza from Alex Music found out that Gia like the accordion he sent her an accordion as a gift. 
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. The Family settled in the town of Chappaqua in Westchester, NY, where Carrozza soon 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 such as (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’ Rubaiyat; 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 has 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.

Carrozza is past president and an active governing board member of the American Accordion Association (AAA), a national organization dedicated to the development of the accordion. He continues to promote the accordion through educational workshops at schools, universities and private music studios.

Carrozza currently resides in the town of Thornwood in Westchester NY with his wife Jean and has two grown children and two grandchildren. Carrozza displays a smooth, effortless technique and together with his musical virtuosity and brisk personality on stage he can be placed somewhere on the scale between unbelievable and incredible. He makes the accordion an instrument of remarkable beauty and makes his performances an experience in artistic majesty. 

Much has been written about the unique artistry of Maestro Carrozza and much more surely will be written in the future, but one critic apparently established for all times Carrozza’s esteemed position in the world of the concert accordionist when he proclaimed, “the violin has its Pagannini, the piano its Chopin – the accordion its Carrozza”!

Dr. Joseph Ciccone is the nephew of the celebrated accordionist and educator, Carmen Carrozza, who has produced two wonderful compact discs of his uncle's music. With Emilio Magnotta, Joseph Ciccone presented for the first time ever a one of a kind historical discography, which they call “The Ten Most Celebrated Accordionists of All Time.” This musical compilation allows the listener to capture the true essence of the instrument and the artist.

Featured on this CD are most of the founding members of the American Accordionists' Association. The pioneers--Pietro Deiro, Pietro Frosini, Charles Magnante, Anthony Galla-Rini, Charles Nunzio, Guido Deiro, Daniel Desiderio, John Gart, and Joe Biviano. Also featured is Carmen Carrozza, a past President and an active Governing Board member of the American Accordionists' Association. The fore-mentioned artists, giants of the accordion world have inspired generations of accordionists and will continue to inspire future generations of accordionists to come.

We look forward to hearing about the musical progress of Gia Ciccone and the special rewarding accordion years ahead for her.

Photo below of Dr. Joseph Ciccone and his uncle, Carmen Carrozza
Dr. Joseph Ciccone and his uncle, Carmen Carrozza

Accordion Jazz Chords

62nd Trophée Mondiale October 23-27 in Spokane, Washington

by Rita Barnea
The World Trophy Accordion organization presents the 62nd Trophée Mondial at the Bing Crosby Theater, Oct. 23-27, 2012. This prestigious competition will bring the best and the brightest of the accordion world to the United States for an exciting week of grueling mastery of technique and sound.

President of the Confederation Mondiale de l'Accordeon (CMA) Frederic Deschamps has announced an impressive sponsorship of $20,000 in Prize Money for the 2012 Trophée Mondial to be held in Spokane, Washington.

Prize money details are:
Senior Classical - 1st Place: $6,000 2nd Place: $2,000 3rd Place: $1,000
Junior Classical - 1st Place: $1,000 2nd Place $800 3rd Place $500
Senior Variety - 1st Place: $2,000 2nd Place: $1,000 3rd Place: $600
Junior Variety - 1st Place: $1,000 2nd Place $800 3rd Place $500
National Trophy - 1st Place: $1,000 2nd Place $800 3rd Place $500
Senior Diatonic - 1st Place: $500
Junior Diatonic - TBA
Digital Diatonic - Digital Diatonic Accordion Roland FR - 18D
Public Vote Winner: $500

President Deschamps said that entries are still open and candidates can view all rules, regulations and entry information on the CMA website. For furter information, full contact details are on the CMA website.

Similar to the Olympics, accordionists, from Asia, Europe, Australia, North America, South America, and Africa will showcase their considerable talent.The competition runs for five days, culminating in the crowning of the 2012 World Trophy Accordion Champions.

Spectators can attend daily competitions, nightly concerts and enjoy the art of the accordion in various locations downtown during the event. For more information about schedules, tickets and hotels, visit

“We are honored to have the Trophée Mondial in Spokane and to be a part of such a historic event for our instrument, the accordion,” said Patricia Bartell, President of the World Trophy Accordion U.S.A. organization. “The level of artistry and technique combined in this event will bring to light many facets of the accordion’s capabilities by highly trained international contestants.” – Frédéric Deschamps, President of Confédération Mondiale de l’Accordéon

Events include:
9:00 am – CMA Senior Trophée Mondial Round 3
Description: Candidates admitted to the 3rd round will perform a free choice classical program that includes at least one original piece for the accordion and one polyphonic work
12:00 pm – Lunch Break
1:30 pm – Presentation of “Simply Music for Accordion”
Description: Neil Moore, CEO and Founder of Simply Music, will present the new and remarkable method for Accordion. An Australian-developed program that has beginning students (children, teens, adults, and seniors) playing great sounding pop, blues, classical, and accompaniment pieces immediately from their very first lessons
2:30 pm – Accordion Concert for the KIDS
Description: Elementary and Middle Schools will gather to hear accordionists from around the world. This will create an opportunity to expose the next generation to the world of accordions and the styles of music available.
5:30 pm – CMA 2012 Trophée Mondial World Accordion Championships Awards Ceremony - Presentation of the 2012 Trophée Mondial Trophies & Prizes
Performances by 1st prize winners

To be notified of registration details, ticket sales, schedule, or other upcoming events related to the 2012 Trophée Mondial please contact the CMA Trophee Mondial 2012 Organizer, Patricia Bartell. Email:
Postal Address: PO Box 30693
Spokane, WA 99223, USA.
Tel: +1 509 998 5422


Tribute and Scholarship Festival Honoring Tony Dannon

by Rita Barnea
Tony Dannon Poster
The Michigan Accordion Society proudly announces the Tony Dannon Tribute and Scholarship Festival recognizing Tony Dannon's important contributions to music, his musical accomplishments, compositions, and arrangements to be performed by his great friends in the music business. Event proceeds will benefit the Tony Dannon Scholarship Fund.

The event takes place on Sunday, November 4th, 2012, at the Forestre Banquet Center, 1919 Starr Batt Drive, Rochester Hills, Michigan. Doors open at 3:30 PM.The tribute starts at 4:30 PM. Dinner at 5:30 PM featuring the music of Joe Cerrito, Aaron Caruso, Eva Evola, Ralphe Armstrong, Michele Ramo, Billy Cairo, Made in Italy, Gene Van Accordion Orchestra, Joe Natoli, Johnny Trudell and many other accomplished artists.

Joe Recchia, Tony Dannon's nephew, said, "We have an impressive line up of musicians and many more to be added later including Ralphe Armstrong, who was a great friend of Tony's, Ralphe has played/recorded with many great Jazz artists over the years such as Chic Corea, Jean Lu Ponty, Stanley Clark, Jaco Pastourius and "Sting". His list is very impressive and goes on and on and on…..He is a friend of mine through my Uncles and is a great "Made in Detroit" musician, one of the best Bass players in the industry today. My Uncle just loved performing with Ralphe and their performances are on You Tube.

Johnny Trudell, another friend of my Uncle Tony's and mine, has played on almost every Motown recording ever heard. Another "Made in Detroit" Musician who is the first call musician whenever big entertainers come into town. He works with Billy Cairo who is another close friend of my Uncle's and is one of the best drummers you can find, another "Made in Detroit" Musician.

Michele Ramo another wonderful jazz musician who was fond of my Uncle and is well known for his custom 8 string guitar. We will feature many of Tony's students at this event either as solo performers or in the Accordion orchestra that will include about 5-7 of Dannon's arrangements. We will also feature some Accordion friends of Tony's such as the great Joe Cerrito, well known Gene Van, World accordion Champion Joe Natoli all who loved Tony and all he has done for the Accordion Industry. I plan to perform duets with Joe Cerrito as well.

We will also feature some great "Made in Detroit" singers that worked with Tony over the years such as Aaron Caruso as well as Eva Evola famous Soprano Opera singer who has entertained at many Opera events."

The entire program will be professionally recorded by Walt Lipeic a student of Tony's . The CD's will be sold to help raise additional funds for the Scholarship event.The Tony Dannon Tribute CD will also be available. It features many performances of great people that he had worked with throughout his illustrious career.

Limited tickets are available. Tables placement is reserved by date checks are received. Expectations are that the event will sell out quickly so please order your tickets promptly. Single tickets are $40.00. Couples tickets are $75.00. Table tickets (10 people per table) are $350.00. Please make your check payable to the "Michigan Accordion Society". Mail to Bob Berta, 54685 Chickasaw Drive, Macomb, MI, 48042.

If you have questions or would like to be a sponsor or make a donation to this event or join the Michigan Accordion Society please contact Joe Recchia: (248) 824- 3856 or by email:

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

Orange County Accordion Festival on October 14

by Rita Barnea
The Big Squeeze
Steve Albini and Tatiana SemichastnayaThis year’s Big Squeeze: aka O.C. Accordion Festival scheduled for Sunday, October 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Orange County Market Place in Costa Mesa will pair up its various accordion based bands with dance experts, teachers and champions.

The Main Stage will spotlight music from the Louisiana Bayou with Zydeco and Cajun dance style teacher A.J. Gibbs revving up the audience on the dance floor for three bands playing everything from Louisiana Swamp pop to sophisticated New Orleans tunes.

Headlining at 2:30 PM is Jo Jo Reed and the Happy Hill Zydeco Band from Louisiana. Reed has been playing and writing music since his high school years at St. Edmund's in Eunice, Louisiana where he graduated in 1989. His original music has given him his own style of Zydeco music, which is an extension from its traditional roots. But in order to attract both young and old to the dance floor he does popular covers, as well as captures the sounds of Zydeco from the days when Boozoo Chavis and Beau Jocque were at their peaks.

David Sousa and the Zydeco Mudbugs will kick off the Bayou sound on the main stage at 11 a.m. followed by Bonne Musique Zydeco ,a six member band with Dennis Gurwell on accordion, squeezing out a variety of Zydeco and Cajun, tunes at 12:45 PM.

On another stage several dance styles will be showcased through exhibitions, lessons and follow the leader sessions, while accompanied by accordion based bands and soloists. Included is Jim Gilman (aka The Squeezinator) playing West Coast Swing and Latin dance music for Gina Tucci, a winner of the Supreme Dance Award in West Coast Swing who will show her winning moves with partner Allen Cofield and then follow with a Cha-Cha lesson. Father daughter dance team, Norbert and Natalie Bernhardt will bring their polka and waltzing talents to the floor while The Fred Mlakar Band, a Slovenian polka band, provides the music back up.

Thee Hobo Gobbelins, a band that plays a unique blend of circus- gypsy- folk-rock will have a troupe of dancers matching this style.Accordionist Linda Herman will play music suitable for dance instructor Candis Davis to teach line and ballroom dancing.The New Orleans Jazz Band may easily get you off your feet to join their parade with the Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler Second Line Dancers at 2 PM.

Know the tango? Whether you do or not, the mix of Italian music fused with jazz and world rhythms with Il Sole featuring Roland V-Accordion® artists Steven Albini and Tatiana Semichastnaya might inspire a few leg sweeps. The Russian born, Semichastnaya is also the accordionist in the Las Vegas Cirque Du Soleil show KA and will perform a solo set. Both perform on the Roland Stage, which also features Roberto Rosa squeezing out many danceable Latin styles including Salsa and Merengue, Skyler Fell performing carnival gypsy folk tunes and Bobby Dietsch of presenting an international music concert.

A Mobile Accordion Jam with Thessaly Lerner on toy accordion and Bryan Olgin on piano accordion will create on the spot performances inviting the public to pick out an instrument and play along. Other aspects of the Festival ”keep you on your toes” regarding the ins and outs of your accordion with a repair workshop, accordion lessons, open jam sessions and an Accordion Road Show with Jeffrey Iacono, Borsini Accordions for a professional appraisal. Bring your accordion for any of these FREE activities. Free accordion storage is also provided.

The Big Squeeze is held in conjunction with the weekend swap meet, the Orange County Market Place, and is included in admission which is $2 or FREE with a canned food item donation for the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County. Children 12 and under are always free. The Market Place is held at the O.C. Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa, 88 Fair Drive.

For more information on the Orange County Accordion Festival: call 949-723-6660 or email:

Pigini USA distributor Ernest Deffner

Golden Accordion Couple: Anita and Bob Siarkowski

by Rita Barnea
Anita and Bob Siarkowski
Anita and Bob SiarkowskiAnita & Bob Siarkowski celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary September 15, 2012! Both accordionists, having met through the accordion, still findin’ ‘squeezin’ pleasin’, and ‘pulling together’ after half a century, they celebrated ‘accordin’ly’! There were chocolate accordion favors, an accordion cake, accordion photos and memorabilia on display, plus the band “Squeezebox” from Ohio!

The Siarkowskis danced ‘on a cloud’ to the tune of “Look At Us”, and played a few tunes themselves as an accordion duet for their guests! President of the American Accordionists’ Association, Linda Soley Reed, and Co-Presidents of the CT Accordion Association , Mary Tokarski and  Marilyn O’Neil were in attendance as well as Judy Sehnal, CAA member who made the accordion cake and Johanne Beerbaum, wife of deceased CAA member, Tim (who was Bob's accordion student/was in Bob and Anita's wedding) - who made the chocolate accordion favors.

Accordionists, Anita and Bob Siarkowski of Bob’s Music Center, Summer Street, Plantsville have been featured guest artists at numerous Connecticut Accordion Association meetings. Bob owns and operated Bob’s Music Center on Summer Street in Plantsville. Anita, a Registered Nurse, performs theme-oriented accordion programs solo or duet with Bob at various facilities and private parties.Their duet performances feature various ethnic repertoires and  outfits adapting to every occasion! The Siarkowskis are on the advisory board of CAA, Connecticut Accordion Association.

The Siarkowskis have been each other’s ‘main ‘squeeze’ – “pulling together”  from day one! Accordion was ‘key’ to the couple’s  introduction in January, 1958 – 54 years ago! Anita LeBlanc , a 7 year accordion veteran at the time, had been rehearsing with the senior band for a recital they participated in for  Mecca School of Music in Waterbury. Weeks later, Bob, from Southington, showed up at rehearsal. Anita wondered who this “out of towner” thought he was sitting front-row center! The mystery was solved once she heard his solo! By that time, Bob was a 14 year accordion veteran, practicing four hours/day, pursuing advanced Jazz  with Tony Mecca/Classical with Joe Biviano – both in New York!

Bob had already established his own business, “Bob’s Accordion School” in Plantsville – which he opened at the age of “18” – right out of high school! Til today, Bob gives accordion, piano, organ, electronic keyboard, and guitar  lessons at Bob’s Music Center.

On the day Anita met Bob, all the other students knew each other from the weekly band rehearsals - except Bob. So Anita, then a high school senior, cordially asked this ‘intruder’…., “You’re new around here, aren’t you?!” Their conversation ended abruptly,,,It was time for rehearsal! Dom Mecca, noticed Anita and Bob talking together, and was  aware that Anita was “on foot”  ( Spike heels at that - like any 5’2” seventeen year old girl would wear to Sunday Mass  in those days!), and had to carry her  accordion 3  city blocks  each way to/from rehearsals – with no elevator where at her  3rd floor residence –or at the 2nd story accordion  studio!

Dom’s  suggestion that Bob could drive Anita home from rehearsal was very much a  surprise to both of them!, Anita told Dom that she didn’t really know this guy….That she was just trying to be sociable, since he didn’t seem to know anyone there, being his first appearance at the senior band rehearsal!

The teacher assured Anita that Bob was a nice guy! Anita  warned Dom that if anything happened, she would hold him responsible! Dom Mecca replied,  “Yeah, and I want to be the “Compare! (Italian for Godfather!). Indeed, as it turned out, Dom Mecca and his wife, Rose were at Anita and Bob’s wedding four years later – September 15, 1962! In the meantime, Anita forfeited Mecca’s offer for an accordion teaching position, and pursued the nursing profession, graduating from St. Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury as a Registered Nurse – still in practice today as a R.N. , Certified Case Manager!

When the Siarkowskis tied the knot, it was a foregone conclusion that Bob’s band would be the featured entertainment! Bob got a substitute accordionist, John Hubeny of Southington, to fill in for him. In their  wildest dreams, never  did Bob and Anita anticipate playing an accordion duet at their own wedding! However, other plans were in store for the new couple! Anita’s Mom, Adele LeBlanc had other ideas, knowing exactly how to orchestrate it!  

Mrs. LeBlanc sent home for Anita’s  accordion, figuring Bob could borrow his substitute’s instrument! Voila! An accordion duet by the bride and groom! ’Quite a surprise to their wedding guests!

Although it seemed appropriate for the bride and groom (who met through the accordion) to perform for their wedding guests, Anita feared that her (very fitted) wedding gown was not ‘very fit’ to play her accordion!  “I’ll rip my dress!”, Anita warned her Mom, who replied “That’s all right, the pictures are already taken! Voila….The newlyweds’ premiere accordion duet performance as Mr. and Mrs. Robert Siarkowski….Anita in her wedding gown, Bob in his tuxedo! Fortunately for the bride, neither she -  nor her wedding gown - ‘fell apart at the seams’ in the process!
Anita commented about the engagement: "Bob brought me home from a date, taking a big box (present) out of the trunk of his car. Being December 20, 1961, I hesitated to open it - kidding Bob that…”If it’s  for my birthday (November 29th), you’re too late!  If it’s for Christmas, you’re too early! I can wait!”  However, Bob insisted that I open up the package right then and there! As I unwrapped the huge package, a smaller wrapped box appeared! Then a still another smaller one!  I started getting a little nervous by the 3rd box)! My suspicions were correct! In the 5th wrapped box was my diamond engagement ring – engraved with 12-20-61!"

Anita and Bob are Charter/Advisory board members of C.A.A. (Connecticut Accordion Association – plus members of the AAA (American Accordionists’ Association) and the ATG (Accordionists and Accordion Teachers’ Guild). The Siarkowskis are  frequently featured as guest artists at the C.A.A. meetings, wineries, restaurants, various facilities,  organizations, private parties (birthdays, anniversaries, retirements, reunions, etc.), holiday functions, etc. – always accommodating their audience with theme-oriented musical repertoires and apparel. Active participants of the Connecticut Accordion Association Orchestra, the Siarkowskis have performed in concerts several places in  Connecticut (7 Angels Theater in Waterbury, etc.), New York, New Jersey, Michigan, New Hampshire, Quebec, Canada - at the nation’s capitol in Washington D.C. in conjunction with the 2007 Coupe Mondiale of the Accordion (world-wide accordion competition) and at Graceland, Elvis Presley’s mansion in Memphis, Tennessee.

Bob and Anita are special caring individuals whose music has always been an integral part of their lives. Anita’s inspiration to play the accordion came from her parents, Adele (Clavette) and Ernest LeBlanc, who supported her accordion studies  from age ‘9’through ‘17’. Anita, while still an accordion student in high school, gave also private music lessons. Music always was, and continues to be, a very integral part of Anita’s life – professionally and socially. As an accordionist, Anita’s claims to fame are her theme-oriented repertoires and outfits to fit any/every occasion (Cupid, Leprechaun, Spring Chicken, German Fraulein, French Maid, Polish Folk Costume, Hawaiian, Mexican, Western, Railroad, Old Fashioned Bathing Suit, Mrs. Pilgrim, Mrs. Santa, Angel, Elf, etc.) - plus her sense of humor!

Aside from solo engagements, Anita and Bob duet (in coordinated apparel) for private parties, organizations, community events, convalescent homes, assisted living facilities, church functions, etc. Anita’s spirited performances inspire otherwise motionless and speechless healthcare facility residents to respond positively! Her audience’s participation is proof that “Laughter is the best medicine”, and that accordion music is therapeutic! Speaking of “Thera Peutic.”, that’s Anita’s alias! “TheraP”, quite the character - a voluptuous nurse, with a hilarious nurse’s cap and fishnet pantyhose! With her Nurse’s Bag full of “cure alls”, “Thera P” cheers up the sick ….however, whenever, wherever! Those who know Anita are well advised to expect the unexpected! People always “read between the lines” with Anita’s “Rhymes For All Reasons”…personal, theme-oriented poetic tributes! For instance, in anticipation of the Siarkowskis’ wedding Tanniversary, Anita ‘bellowed’  out “Pulling Together” - narrating the couple’s accordion connection!

Bob’s entire career has a musical ‘accent’! Bob’s inspiration came from his Uncle Louis, who played the accordion. It was love at first sight! Bob’s parents, Rose (Martinell) and Peter Siarkowski wasted no time enrolling Bob for accordion lessons with Joe Gurka of Nanticoke, Pennsylvania – with whom he specialized in classical and jazz accordion for 9 years - from ages “7” to “16”.Siarkowski’s professional career began at age ‘15’, as accordionist with “The Wanderers” dance band. Bob has since performed with various combos, eventually forming his own orchestra for entertaining at dances, private parties, anniversaries - and weddings, even his own! At ‘16’, Bob moved with his family to Connecticut, when his accordion teaching career began at “Matt’s Accordion Studio”. After 2 years , Siarkowski established his own teaching business, “Bob’s Accordion Studio” - right out of high school at the age of ‘18’!  The young entrepreneur, with accordion gig supplements, gradually developed a full time teaching studio, along with a flourishing musical career! Several of Bob’s students, given the accordion expertise gained under his tutelage, won multiple contests and trophies in Connecticut and New York, annually. As an accordion teacher, Bob ‘practiced what he preached' - being an accordion student at the same time! Siarkowski’s continuous passion for the accordion led him to Domenic Mecca in Waterbury –who  in turn, referred him  to renowned  accordionists in New York  – Dom’s brother, Jazz specialist,  Tony Mecca – and Classical Accordion specialist, Joe Biviano .
At age ‘21’, Bob managed the 750 accordion pupils Esnar Music Company in Sacramento! Siarkowski taught their most advanced students - plus supervised their 9 accordion teachers! While in California, Siarkowski studied advanced classical accordion with John Molinaro. Siarkowski  later moved back east, and managed the Richard Moore Music Center in Collinsville, New Jersey. Then, Bob came full circle and opened his own studio, “Bob’s Music Center” in Plantsville, Connecticut staffed with several music instructors including his wife, Anita (on accordion and organ) and their sons, Scot (on guitar) and Bret (on Piano and Organ)!  Bob’s extensive curriculum incorporates chord construction plus all varieties of music. His teaching business continues to thrive, offering private musical instruction to pupils of all ages (three generations in some cases) and musical expertise on all keyboard instruments. Relatively few musicians have dedicated their entire life to music, while making it a full time career like Bob Siarkowski. Since opening his studio in 1954, Bob has been in the (full time) music business for 53 years!

Aside from teaching music, Bob continues to play professionally as an accordion duet with his wife, Anita. The Siarkowskis have performed in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Michigan, Florida, Louisiana, Tennessee, and California – plus in Canada (New Brunswick and Quebec Provinces - at the International Accordion Festival in Montmagny.

The accordion not only unites people of all cultures with wonderful music, but it also serves as a special bond between people…..even leading to marriage! Congratulations and on behalf of Accordion Worldwide, we wish Bob and Anita many more happy years of playing duets together!

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

Jane Christison's CD Submitted to Recording Academy

by Rita Barnea
Jane Christison
Jane ChristisonJane Christison's children's CD "Come Sing Along with Janie Next Door" has been submitted to the Recording Academy for consideration in the children's category of the 55th Grammy's. The initial round of voting is fast approaching.  If any of the Accordions Worldwide readers are voting members of the Grammy's organization, Jane invites them to give a listen to her CD on the website.
Every kid would love to have a neighbor like Janie living next door - cool, bubbly and tons of fun. The next best thing is Janie's debut album Come Sing Along with Janie Next Door. If CD's were assigned a color, Come Sing Along with Janie Next Door, would be bright yellow. 

Eighteen original, bouncy songs will stick in your head, and you won't want them to leave. Whether you are singing along in the car or marching, dancing and clapping alone at home or in the classroom, this CD goes anywhere and everywhere children are having a great time - with some learning thrown in for good measure.
For an extra bonus, kids are introduced to an instrument they don't hear very often: the accordion. Janie (musician/singer/songwriter Jane Christison) soars while showcasing its versatility - the accordion is not just for weddings and polkas anymore!  There's even a song called "I Love Playing Accordion," expressing her passion for the instrument. 

Jane's accordion has a MIDI system which allows her to blend the sounds of other instruments with that of the acoustic accordion, adding interest and even some sound effects to the music.  At live concerts, children are fascinated.
When asked about the inspiration for the songs, Jane says, "I've played over 1,000 Music With A Smile (R) performances for seniors groups and retirement communities.  During the programs I reminisce about things like 'Do you remember chasing fireflies on hot summer nights?' or 'Do you remember going back to school in the fall?'  I started waking up with children's songs in my head, and I'd try them out on my seniors.  When they enjoyed my 'childrens' songs, I realized that they have multi-generational appeal, from the kiddos just having fun with the joy of music, to the parents and grandparents being reminded of fond childhood memories!"

Jane Christison is an accomplished accordionist and entertainer, playing and singing many styles of music. She performs upbeat and engaging 45-minute programs for seniors groups, retirement communities and nursing homes. Her personality and enthusiasm for playing the accordion are in demand as well for conventions, theme parties and other celebrations. And Jane is introducing a whole new generation to the joy of music by writing songs for children and performing as "Janie Next Door."

Jane studied serious accordion literature with Joan Cochran Sommers at the University of Missouri- Kansas City Conservatory of Music and graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree in accordion performance.

She has been featured as a guest artist at accordion festivals throughout the US, performing and presenting workshops. Video versions of two of her workshops, "Playing the Accordion for Fun and Fame!" and "Squeezing Money Out of Your Accordion" are available through her company, Music With A Smile Productions, L.L.C., as is her children’s CD “Come Sing Along with Janie Next Door." 

The CD is available at
For further information: 913-492-3883 or

The Art of Playing the Accordion Artistically by Friedrich Lips

New Hampshire Accordion Association and Massachusetts Accordion Association Celebrate Oktoberfest

by Rita Barnea
Donna Regis and Tony Lovello
NHAA LogoAccordion “Cousins” Will Gather for Annual Visit of Friendship/Music-Making with Donna Maria Regis in Pre-SMASH Mini-Concert Honoring Tony Lovello

The New Hampshire Accordion Association [NHAA] is delighted to welcome the Massachusetts Accordion Association [MAAA] for a joint Oktoberfest celebration 12:30-4:00 PM Saturday, October 20, 2012 at Accordion Connection LLC in Gilmanton NH.

This enjoyable reunion of accordion “cousins” continues a warm annual tradition begun several years ago when the Massachusetts and New Hampshire associations decided to get together for a fun musical time.

Since the inaugural visit in Massachusetts, the host location has rotated between the two states. On this year’s agenda: an informal jam session, an extended open mike session, an Oktoberfest celebration in music with MAAA and NHAA playing together and for each other, plus social time and refreshments. All accordionists are welcome to attend/perform.

Special note: The extended open mike session at NHAA’s October 20 meeting will include a mini-concert by NHAA Music Director Donna Maria Regis, who will be featured on November 10 in Orlando at the Florida SMASH continuing the year-long celebration of Tony Lovello’s upcoming 80th birthday. Donna Maria will pay tribute to Tony by performing solos followed by conducting the SMASH orchestra in her transcriptions of Tony’s solo arrangements.

The schedule for October 20:
12:30 Jam Session/Warm-up
1:00 Very Brief Business Meeting
Welcome to our MAAA “cousins” and other guests, invitation to join NHAA
News of members’ upcoming activities and recent accomplishments
1:05 Open Mike
ALL accordionists are welcome to play – solo, duet, trio, etc.

Donna Maria Regis will conclude the open mike session with a mini-concert tribute to Tony Lovello in honor of his upcoming 80th birthday
2:15 Refreshments/Social Time – Snacks, beverages by NHAA, Accordion Connection
2:30 Oktoberfest Celebration in Music – MAAA & NHAA play together and for each other

The New Hampshire Accordion Association meets monthly, usually the third Saturday at Accordion Connection LLC, 136 Route 106, Gilmanton, NH

For further information:
Donna Maria Regis, Music Director 1-603-425-1825

Suzanne Welch, Executive Secretary 1-800-328-5227

Titano Accordion Company

Florida Smash November 9-11

by Rita Barnea
Florida Smash Performers 2012
Florida Smash LogoPresident of the Florida Accordion Association, Karen Adam Kasprzyk, invites all to participate in the 12th Annual Florida Smash which takes place November 9-11, 2012 at the Holiday Inn, Orlando Airport.

This special event will honor the 80th birthday of Tony Lovello, well known as the Liberace of the Accordion! Featured performers include: Joe Cerrito, Vladimir Mollov, John Lobosco, Walt Kasprzyk, Jon Perrson, Donna Regis, Michael Jude Ward-Bergeman and more.

There will also be dealer displays, Friday night Cafe Accordeon, 2012 Accordion Orchestra and much more. Paul Betken, of Tempe, AZ, will present a tribute to Leon Sash (his former teacher).

Founded in September 2000, the Florida Accordion Association is dedicated to the promotion of the accordion through all music genres and all variations of accordion instruments. Having grown to over 350 plus members, they represent all types of accordion instruments including piano accordion, diatonic, chromatic button accordion and bandoneon. The FAA also encompasses all types of musical genres such as ethnic, jazz and classical to name a few, on all playing levels. 

The event takes place at the Holiday Inn - Orlando International Airport, 
5750 T.G. Lee Blvd, Orlando, FL. 
Call 407-851-6400 for reservations & free airport shuttle
(Mention Florida Accordion Association for discounted room rate of $82.00+ tax, single to quad)
Hotel reservations are due to the hotel by 10/18/12 for this rate. Check in: 4:00 PM, Check out: 11:00 AM 

Photos at top from L to R: Vladimir Mollov, Joe Cerrito, John Lobosco, Tony Lovello, Paul Betken

For further information:
call 850-936-8722
or visit the Florida Accordion Association website.

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

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

Gary Daverne CD's and eSheet music available online

Vince Cirelli Interview

by Sheri Mignano Crawford
Skyler Fell and Vince CirelliMy interview was conducted in July 2007, in Penngrove, California at the annual Accordion Club of the Redwoods picnic. This is a summary of that delightful conversation with Vince Cirelli, December 21, 1920 – September 29, 2012

We started off the informal chat with a little Italian. I asked about his initiation into the craft and he carefully described how he got started in the accordion factories in North Beach. It was there that he learned to build a “fisa” the affectionate Italian nickname used for the accordion. Generally, he said, in the early days, it “took about a year to build one.” He was learning the craft back in the late 1930s; at that time, there were dozens of accordion manufacturers in the Italian neighborhood known as North Beach.

It was his father, Felice Cirelli, whose musical talents were passed onto Vince. Felice was just 18 when he arrived in San Francisco from San Marco Catola (Calabria) about two weeks after the 1906 earthquake. His first job consisted of picking up the bricks, and delivering them to builders who were reconstructing the city. He and his wife Costanza di Vincenza lived in North Beach; in 1920 Vince was born on Telegraph Hill between Union and Kearny. His father performed at an old Chinese theatre—“it was a vaudeville theatre in the Pacific International Settlement, known as the Barbary Coast.” The family continued to live in North Beach, on Broadway in San Francisco.

By the 1920s, the mainly Italian-owned accordion factories had started to proliferate. When Vince turned 12, his father bought him his first accordion, a rental from Joseph Colombo in 1932. It was a $5 a month rental for a year. The $60 was applied toward purchase. It was the Depression, and I’m sure this was quite a sacrifice for his father who ordered one built to fit Vince. One can only imagine what it was like for this teenager to wake up on any morning in North Beach to hear accordions being played, tested during construction and repair work, and hanging out at the Green Street barbershop (a musical hub in North Beach) to listen in on conversations about who was gigging.

He grew up in the midst of the finest Italian accordion caretakers; they must have inspired Vince to follow in the profession and to adhere to this fastidious hand-crafted tradition. Just as his father ‘repaired’ San Francisco by gathering together the bricks to be used and recycled, Vince loved to salvage accordions for restoration. His professional colleagues consisted of dozens of many immigrant Italians; he only mentioned a few during the interview: the Taffi brothers, originally with Guerrini Accordion, later with Standard Accordion, operated a repair business, mentoring to the young Vince. Another was Paul Greub, referred to by Vince as “Swedish” accordionist; his factory operated from 1924-1975. According to Vince, Galleazzi & Sons (Giuseppe, Frank & Theodore) was located at 478 Jackson, and opened in 1896, going out of business in 1944.

While the war interrupted and closed many businesses, it also resulted in Vince opening the doors to his own business in 1946. Cirelli Accordion Service started at 1238 Columbus St., then 2930 Geneva St, then 37 Leland St. in the mid-1970s, and then in 1981, he moved his accordion service to Valley Drive in Brisbane. Accordion factories, stores and academies survived well into the early 1960s, where a dozen or more were still listed in the Yellow Pages. In the late 1970s, Mike Corino’s music store (now Puccini Caffè) was one of the last to close its doors in North Beach. But it was Vince who continued to service the accordion community.

Vince loved to compare and contrast accordions. For example, he thought that Ernst Lund “built accordions to last like a battleship.” Long before the mass manufacturing in the late 1940s and 1950s, accordions tended to be built upon request. While a standard accordion could be easily bought, the professional players visited an accordion factory to be fitted for one, just as one might visit London’s Savile Row for a custom suit. An accordion had to complement the individual player’s physical dimensions. In the course of his apprenticeship, he met a fellow named Gallenstein, who invited Vince to learn to repair accordions. Later, Gallenstein went on to head up Hohner. In the mid-1990s, Rubin Boaz went to Cirelli’s shop to learn, and to Gordon Piatanesi’s (Colombo Accordions) before it folded. Vince called Boaz a ‘good machinist’ and attributed Boaz’s repair skills to having been in the jewelry repair business before he opened Boaz Accordions. His legacy survives because he cared deeply about the accordion’s beauty and physical health.

Vince lit up when he recalled meeting Skyler Fell in 2005. He had several good years teaching Skyler his ‘hands-on’ repair method, by using all five senses. As he began to describe to me how to build an accordion for someone, or to buy an accordion, he emphasized how important it was to examine the whole person. He believed in a close examination of the person’s body, especially arms and hands. Vince sized me up as he unconsciously began to take measurements as if he were building a custom accordion for me. In fact, Vince told me that “all the plans for building an accordion were [stored] in his head.” An amazing feat at any age!

We loved you, Vince. He will be missed by his family, friends and fellow accordionists around the world.

Note: All names, addresses, dates, and quotation marked statements were Vince’s. Upon verification in the Flynn and Davison’s Golden Age of the Accordion, it was clear to me that Vince had an extraordinary ability to remember details even in his ninth decade.

For further information:
Sheri Mignano Crawford

Photo of Skyler Fell and Vince Cirelli

4 Music Books by Stas Venglevski

Dr. Robert Young McMahan in October Performances

by Rita Barnea
Dr. Robert Young McMahanCecylia BarczykDr. Robert Young McMahan will perform Astor Piazzolla's "Le Grand Tango" with cellist Cecylia Barczyk at The College of New Jersey's annual Music Faculty Gala Concert, at the Mildred and Ernest E. Mayo Concert  Hall, Music Building, The College of New Jersey,2000 Pennington Road, Ewing, NJ on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 8 PM.

The Department of Music at The College of New Jersey promotes music study in a program where performance, music education, technology, creativity and scholarship are closely integrated. Soloists and ensembles exemplify the high performance and creativity standards achieved by the Department. Once a year, members of the music faculty come together to perform in this Gala event. The event is open to the public. It is a ticketed event to benefit MENC.

Dr. McMahan will also perform at the Harold J. Kaplan Concert Hall, Center for the Arts, Towson University, Towson, MD (near Baltimore), on Oct. 28, 7:30 PM, as part of the annual International Cello Festival held there and produced by Barczyk, who is on the Towson U. music faculty.

Enjoy the exciting rhythms of Central and South America woven into cello compositions by Ginastera, Piazzola, and Cuban composer Jorge Lopez Marin. Towson faculty, cellist Cecylia Barczyk will premiere two works: Variaciones Rusticas for cello and string orchestra by Lopez, and Sonata for Two Cellos and Piano (with Frances Borowsky) composed by Baltimore’s own William Milner. All proceeds benefit the TU Foundation Cello Scholarship Fund.

"Le Grand Tango" was composed in 1982 for Mstislav Rostropovich and is originally for cello and piano.  The piano part has been transcribed for bandoneon as well as chromatic accordion. Dr. McMahan transcribed the piano part to piano accordion for these concerts.

Cecylia Barczyk has achieved international recognition as a complete artist, successful teacher, and great humanitarian. She has given concerts, recitals, and master classes throughout Europe, Asia, North and South America and has appeared as a soloist with prominent orchestras including those of Amman, Baltimore, Beijing, Berlin, Boston, Berlin, Bucharest, Budapest, Jakarta, Leipzig, London, Moscow, New York, Prague, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Seoul, Shanghai, Sofia, St. Petersburg, Taiwan, Tel Aviv, Tianjin, Tokyo, and Warsaw. She has frequently performed on radio and television and has recorded much of the standard and new cello literature – as well as works composed especially for her – on the Muza, ICRecords, Melodya, and CRS labels.

Dr. McMahan is Professor of Music at The College of New Jersey where he is also Area Coordinator of Music Theory, Composition, Ear Training, and Classical Accordion. He is on the Executive Board of the American Accordionists' Association. His degrees are: D.M.A., Music Composition, Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University;M.A., Liberal Arts, Great Books Program, St. John’s College; M.M., Music Composition, Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University;B.M., Music Theory, Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University.

Prior to his appointment at TCNJ, Dr. McMahan taught Music Theory and related subjects at Towson University, Morgan State University, College of Notre Dame, Essex Community College, and the Peabody Preparatory School (of the Peabody Institute) where he was Head of the Theory Department and developed its curriculum. He also taught Classical Accordion at the Peabody Preparatory School and at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Dr. McMahan studied composition with Robert Hall Lewis, Jean Eichelberger Ivey, and Stefan Grove at the Peabody Institute.

Dr. McMahan is a recognized authority on the American composer, Carl Ruggles, and has published articles in American Music, Sonneck Society Bulletin, New Grove Dictionary of Opera, and New Grove Dictionary of Music. He is presently working on a book on the life and works of Ruggles.

Dr. McMahan’s primary instrument is classical accordion, and he has tirelessly promoted the instrument in serious contemporary music throughout his career. He has been commissioned to write works for the accordion by various individuals and organizations, including the American Accordionists’ Association and the New York State Council on the Arts. He has recorded on the CRS and Orion labels and is published by Ernest Deffner Music. During his years in the Baltimore area, Dr. McMahan was accordionist for the Baltimore Symphony, Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, Washington Ballet and American Ballet Orchestras (at the Kennedy Center), and for other cultural and performing organizations. He has performed under such notable conductors as Julius Rudel, Rob Fisher, Sarah Caldwell, Sergiu Comissiona, Gunther Schuller, Frederik Prausnitz, Murry Sidlin, bandleader Les Elgart, Leon Botstein, Leon Fleisher, and Peter Schickele, and with Sting, Georgia Brown, Maureen McGovern, Alvin Epstein, Boyd Gaines, and Theodore Bikel.

For further information:

Amy Jo Sawyer CD titled According to Amy

Emilio Magnotta in New Location

by Rita Barnea
Emilio MagnottaConnecticut accordionist Emilio Magnotta will open his new business location on Hope Street in Stamford, Connecticut on November 1, 2012. He offers an accordion sales and repairs service, electronics and accessories for the accordion, several brands of new accordions, original sheet music and used accordions.

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, Cliff Scholl, who had been a student of Pietro Frosini.

Cliff Scholl was an arranger and teacher, very active in the AAA, who also made live recordings of some of the most famous USA accordionists from the early 1940‘s on, such as Frosini and Magnante.

Emilio took lessons from Cliff Scholl for eighteen years.

Presently, Emilio performs every weekend for all types of events ranging from outdoor Italian feasts to weddings. He also recorded a CD, “Emilio Magnotta, Vol.II”.

For further information email Emilio Magnotta:

Titano Accordion Company

Spotlight on Multi-talented Young Accordionist, Peter Chudolij

by Joan Grauman Morse, AAA Historian
Peter and Alex
Peter Playing at AAMS FestivalI was delighted to receive a message from Peter Chudolij’s mom, Lillianna, a couple of weeks ago. She wanted me to know that Peter would be performing with a Ukrainian dance troupe at the Silver Spring, Maryland Ukrainian Festival. My husband, Dan, and I drove down to enjoy the beautiful Ukrainian folk art, great food and the excellent dance skills of one of our all-time favorite teenagers, Peter Chudolij.

We met Peter many years ago at the AAA Festival in Dearborn, Michigan. In the exhibit room, we had our “SqueezinArt” table next to Peter’s family’s “Music Magic USA” display. I was immediately impressed with this friendly, well-spoken and talented child.

An only child, Peter interacted beautifully with his proud parents and, through the years, it has been so nice to see that they still share this wonderful relationship. I always look forward to seeing Peter. We have a lot to talk about as we share so many common interests. We both love dogs, accordions and I, too, used to perform in folk dance troupes.

Peter was born into a warm, culturally rich home that his dad, Alex Chudolij, says is “modeled after the traditional values and home life which Lillianna and I were fortunate to experience during our own childhood. Both of us were extremely active in our respective (Ukrainian) communities.”

Alex, from Rhode Island, studied accordion and Ukrainian folk dancing and Lillianna, from New York, folk danced, sang and acted in her local community. After years of performing and serving as a bandleader at a resort in New York’s Catskill Mountains, Alex moved with his wife, Lillianna, to New Jersey, where he worked as a chemical engineer.

In 1997, the Chudolijs opened their accordion showroom, “Music Magic USA”. Peter enjoys helping his parents with the accordion business and has accompanied them to many AAA and AAMS festivals, a NAMM trade show, the Florida SMASH and many others.

Now in his senior year of high school, Peter is also active in sports, his church, music, dance, Ukrainian school and he is in the National Honor Society. Watching Peter dance with his troupe, Iskra Dance Ensemble, was so exciting for us. They were terrific and Peter was outstanding.

After the performance, I had the opportunity to interview Peter:
Q: Peter, how old were you when you started playing the accordion?
A: Ah, the accordion - I couldn’t escape it. It was always there in the house, calling me, taunting me. Every time I tried the drums, nothing clicked.  The accordion seemed to fit naturally.   I started playing seriously when I was about 12 years old.

Q: Any special memories, as a young child, that really made you want to be an accordionist?
A: The accordion was something I grew up seeing and hearing right from birth. It has been a familiar friend to me my whole life. My father would play for me all the time and my mother would sing.  However, being at the 2007 Coupe Mondiale in Virginia and seeing young performers my age really play all different styles of this instrument is what left the biggest impression on me.

This sparked a desire in me to practice and learn new things from listening and watching all kinds of performers. When I came home from the Coupe Mondiale, all I wanted to do was play, and I did just that every single day for a solid year. Even right before I left for school in the morning, I just had to play even a few notes.

Q: Do you perform with your father?  Do you perform at Ukrainian functions?
A: Yes, we have sometimes performed together at various Ukrainian and International festivals over the past few years.  We’ve also performed separately and together at the Florida Accordion Association’s SMASH 2010 and at the Roland V-Accordion Festival 2011 Special Extravaganza Concert where we were featured as a father and son duo.

Q: I know that you placed in a few accordion competitions. What were these?
A: I don’t have many awards because I never enjoyed competing at the accordion conventions, even though I think I’ve been to almost every AAA Festival since I was five.   I enjoy playing for myself, family, friends and an audience.

I did win a few things:
* Finalist - 2009 Junior Category - Roland V-Accordion Festival Competition
* First Place - 2010 Ethnic Solo - MAMTG Competition
* Second Place - 2012 Junior Category - Roland V-Accordion Festival Competition

Q: When did you start folk dancing?  What groups are you in?
A: I started dancing when I was 4 years old. I took lessons after pre-school from Roma Prima Bohacheska, a prima-ballerina and professional Ukrainian Folk Dance instructor and choreographer. I was a student in her school branched in Newark, NJ.

She had school branches set up all over the Northeast.  When I got older, around 9, I started attending a few of her intense summer Ukrainian dance camps at Verkhovyna and Soyuzivka in Upstate New York. My mother was also her student, back in the day.

Pani Prima, that’s what we all called her (in Ukrainian, Pani means “Mrs.”), was awesome but strict. She taught me discipline and technique. She passed away a few years ago.  I continue dancing under the expert tutelage of Andrij Cybyk, also a veteran of Roma Prima’s school. He is a graduate of the Duquesne University’s world famous Tamburitzans, he has studied with the Virsky Ukrainian National Dance Company, he has toured with many ballet and dance companies as well as with “Riverdance”.

I am fortunate to be in the Iskra Dance Ensemble and Academy of NJ which Mr. Cybyk directs and choreographs.  As part of the Ensemble, I traveled to Arizona this past April where we put on a two hour concert. In this same concert, my father, Alex Chudolij, was a guest performer. He entertained the audience with his accordion skills and repertoire.  

For the past four years, I have also been dancing with the Barvinok Ensemble of NJ under the expert direction of Hryhorij Momot, who himself is a veteran Virsky ballet and folk dancer, choreographer and energetic artist.  As a member of Barvinok’s Ensemble, I will be involved in a Make-A-Wish Foundation fund raiser concert later in October, organized by the St. Anna Greek Orthodox Church of Flemington, NJ.

Q: Having once been an active part of the Baltimore Ukrainian community, I know that being involved in this environment has provided you with a warm and very special childhood.  Can you share some special memories and feelings about being an active “Ukie”?
A: Yes. Being part of the Ukrainian community, I have been constantly immersed in my heritage, and I’m lucky for it! This not only allows me to be in-tune with my culture and its history but it also lets me develop and express my heritage in many ways. Dancing is one of them and so is playing the accordion.

These two things are as much about being Ukrainian as knowing how to write Pysanky (Ukrainian Easter eggs) and going Christmas caroling and a whole lot more. I have the greatest opportunities to do this with these dance ensembles but more so through my church, Holy Ascension Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral - Kyivan Patriarch, and my membership, since age 4, in the Ukrainian American Youth Association.

I not only belong to their senior youth dance group, Obriji, and a young male singing quartet, but as a UAYA community, we also put on plays twice a year, go Christmas caroling, enjoy volleyball and soccer tournaments, perform at picnics and festivals, compete in sporting events and annual "brains & brawn” olympiads, attend seminars and fun outings, plus summer camps including leadership, sports, cultural and adventure.  

All the while, I have been blessed with friendships that will last a lifetime and have met people from all over the United States, Canada and Ukraine. Together, we learn and share our culture, learn about current events in Ukraine and how we, as Americans of Ukrainian descent, connect with all of it.

Q: What are your plans for your immediate future (school possibilities, career possibilities)
A: I’m not sure yet what career path to take or which school to attend. I’m still investigating and trying to choose wisely.  I don’t want to rule anything out just yet.

Q: Do you have any other hobbies?
A: Tennis is my passion.  I have been on the Varsity Boys’ Tennis Team all four years of high school. I have lessons every week and I love it! I hope to be competing more this fall and winter before the season starts at school.  I also love archery. I used to shoot weekly when I was younger.  Cars - I love cars, going to the NY International Auto Show at the Javitz Center and the program Top Gear.

Q: Any particular accordionists whom you particularly admire?
A: Ludovic Beier, Orosz Zoltan, Vladimir Denissenkov, Cory Pesaturo, Vladimir Mollov, and, of course, my father Alex Chudolij.
Peter Dancing

Jeff Lisenby CD A Spy In Tortuga

The Great American Polkafest in Reno, Nevada

by Rita Barnea
The Gruber Family Band
The Steve Balich Band‘The Great American Polkafest’ will be held at Circus Circus, Reno, Nevada, on October 29th and 30th, 12 noon until 9:PM. There will be dancing to Polka Power California (Gary Seibert, Donna Seibert, Mark Seibert, Danny Fitterer, Fred Pfeffer,Stefan Kochishan),The Gruber Family Band (Martin Kramar,Michael Kramar,Peter Gruber, Toni Gruber), and The Steve Balich Polka Band (Steve Balich, Sr., Steve Balich Jr.,Tom Casazza, Art Wood}

On Tuesday night: Dress up for Halloween (Optional). Prizes for the best costumes. 2 Days…Only $49 plus tax. For 1 day the fee is $29 plus tax. To order tickets: 1-855-266-9847

Special Discounted $39.99 (+ tax) Hotel Room Rate. 
Call 1-800-648-5010. Mention code POLKAFEST.
 To receive a Group discount, rooms must be booked by 10/16.
Limited availability afterward. Generous Bonus Coupons Included!

For further information email:

Top photo: The Gruber Family Band
Side photo: The Steve Balich Polka Band

Charlie Fontana to Perform at LIAA

by Dominic Karcic
Charlie FontanaThe Long Island Accordion Alliance (LIAA) sponsored by La Villini Restaurant presents an evening of accordion music with featured guest artist, Charlie Fontana, on Tuesday, October 2, 2012 at 7 PM.

Charlie Fontana was born and raised in the Kings Park and Commack area of Smithtown, New York. His father, Celestino, was born in Genoa, Italy and as an infant his family moved to Turin (Torino) where he was raised. His dad came to New York in the late 1920’s. His mother, Mary (Cavagnaro), was born in Chester, New York of Italian immigrant parents who were also from Genoa, Italy.

Music played a very important part in the Fontana family. Charlie’s dad played the guitar and his uncle played the mandolin and guitar often playing and singing together. Charlie has vivid childhood memories of special family functions where his grandparents would often hire an accordionist that would play songs of northern Italy. Some of his grand parents’ favorites included songs like “Il Sirio,” “Quel Mazzolin Di Fiore” and “Mariannina.” He also recalls that the old 78 recordings of the Valtaro Musette Orchestra were a very prominent feature of their daily environment and musical life. One of his favorites was the recording of “True Love Waltz” (Tutti Mi Chiamano Bionda) and the other side had “The Real McCoy Polka.” r

Charlie began taking weekly accordion lessons at the age of nine (1951) from Elver Olson a teacher in the local Commack Elementary School. Accordion lessons were $2.00. Other accordion studies included lessons at the Gatto School in Huntington Station (NY) where he participated in many recitals and also performances at local hospital and school auditoriums. These very special events offered him great opportunities and experience in playing in public.

His last teacher was Larry Cennamo of Commack, New York who also immersed Charlie in studies of solfeggio, classical music, harmony and theory. Much time was spent on the study of standards and block chord styling.

He entered the club date scene by the age of sixteen playing at catering halls all over Long Island, many night clubs and also private parties and weddings. He eventually ran an ornamental concrete business in Commack from 1962 to 2007 called “Fontana Garden Ornaments.” He retired in 2007 from the concrete business giving himself time for accordion playing and further studies on improving his musical skills Charlie is one of the original members of the Long Island Accordion Alliance (LIAA) which recently celebrated its second anniversary in August 2012.

La Villini Restaurant is located on 288 Larkfield Road, East Northport. For reservations and information: 631-261-6344.

The International Trio, CD Available online, secure server

Alex Chudolij to Perform for Massachusetts Accordion Association

by Rita Barnea
Alex ChudolijAccordionist Alex Chudolij, band leader, accordion designer, and owner of Music Magic USA based in Clifton, NJ. will be the featured artist of the Massachusetts Accordion Association at its free Oct. 28 meeting at 2 PM in Newton, MA.

Music Magic Accordions USA’s founder and President, Alex Chudolij, started his musical career on October 8, 1964 at the age of 6. For the next 10 years he studied the piano accordion as a student of well known professor, teacher and performer Tulio Gasperini in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. During the latter part of his formal training Alex earned numerous awards in solo, band and ensemble categories at Rhode Island state competitions as well as national American Accordionists Association championships held in Pittsburgh, PA, Washington, DC and Springfield, MA.

As a teenager Alex was already making numerous concert and festival appearances, pleasing the crowds with classic showpieces and his own concert arrangements.  
At the age of 15, Alex became the summer resident accordionist/entertainer at a resort area located in upstate New York's Catskill Mountain “Borscht Belt” region. The following summer Alex became the resort's summer bandleader and assistant Social Director. He held this position for the next 5 years. As he became known to the thousands of vacationers, the demand for his band began to grow. In addition to the house band playing 3 or 4 nights per week, Alex also provided lounge strolling, lunchtime, campfire and concert entertainment each week.

At the age of 16, Alex teamed up with the resort's drummer, and formed a unique 2-piece ensemble. The pair performed for the next decade all over the Eastern United States including Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Virginia and Florida. The band played dances, weddings and festivals including the National Polka Festival at Hunter Mountain, NY and the Ukrainian Festival USA at the Garden State Performing Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ. After the duo recorded their first LP, they added two new members – a sax and trumpet – to the band. Their next album was a live recording entitled, "At the Dance".

As Alex continued on to Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio and later to Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts where he received his Master of Science degree in Chemical Engineering, he continued his musical appearances as much as his schedule would allow. In Cleveland, Alex was enamored with the degree to which the accordion was still a very popular instrument – especially among the large local Slovenian population.  At Tufts, his performance at the Student Union playing his arrangement of a Ukrainian Folk Song Fantasy won him first prize in a university wide talent competition - beating out competing rock groups, folk singer/guitarists and other more typical types of college entertainment.

In 1991, Alex recorded a unique one man band instrumental album, "Electric Kozak" which was recorded using a midi accordion. This recording made its debut at the Garden State Arts Center, where it sold over 200 copies in its first day of sales.  For the next four years Alex's Electric Kozak Band had been providing entertainment for crowds of all sizes and for all occasions, including a gala reception for then Olympic gold medalists Oksana Baiul and Victor Petrenko.  Alex's wife, Lillianna, performed as the band’s lead singer until 1996, when Alex retired from regular band engagements and subsequently founded Music Magic USA. Presently Alex, Lilliana, and their son, Peter, travel with their accordion business to many accordion festivals including the AAA, AAMS, and Florida SMASH among others.

In addition to being a composer, having composed several of the songs on his popular Electric Kozak album, Alex has been instrumental in promoting the accordion with library lectures, grade school appearances and other goodwill affairs where he has showcased the beauty and uniqueness of the accordion to audiences of all types.In addition to performing, he will also explain the three categories of accordions commonly available today – traditional acoustic, acoustic with MIDI, and all electronic (conventional reedless models and Roland V-Accordions) - and discuss the features, playability, advantages and limitations of each.

The Massachusetts Accordion Association, a not-for-profit organization, encourages the enjoyment of the accordion by its members and the larger state-wide community both by sponsoring three free guest artist appearances per year at its Newton location and by offering several free community outreach concerts throughout the year.

Alex Chudolij’s program takes place at the Ciociaro Club at 144 Bridge Street in the Nonantum section of Newton beginning about 2:PM. Please bring your accordion and join in the group Play-Along at 1:30 preceding Mr. Chudolij. The event is free and parking is available on Bridge Street.

For further information:

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

Long Island Accordion Alliance Visits Village Lanterne

by Dominic Karcic
If the sign of a very successful musical engagement is when just about every seat in the house / restaurant is occupied, then the Tuesday, September 25th, 2012 performance of the Long Island Accordion Alliance (LIAA) at the Village Lanterne in Lindenhurst, Long Island was a big success.

When strolling the tables with the accordion and after you finish a musical selection the patrons tell you that they came to this venue for the first time “just to hear accordion music” then, last night’s performance at the Village Lanterne was a big success.

When a group of strolling accordionists and singer are making their rounds in the busy dinning area and each selection is met with applause and gracious comments then, last night’s performance at the Village Lanterne was a big success.

When various performers take the stage for short ten to fifteen minute sets and their performance is greeted very appreciative applause then the night’s performance at was a success.

When the whole ensemble of nine accordionists performs a program of six varied selections in a  crisp, articulate and precise manner and you get the patrons clapping to the rhythm and singing the lyrics of the selections then, last night’s performance at the Village Lanterne was a big success.

When, at the end of the evening, you go to thank the owner of  the establishment and the first thing he says is to you is “I want all of your future (Long Island Accordion Alliance) meetings to take place in my restaurant”……  and, he goes on to ask “How soon can the Accordion  Alliance return?” then you really know that the night’s performance was successful.

The fact that on probably the slowest night in the business week (Tuesday) for most restaurants the house was filled with patrons, accordion devotees and lots of accordion music says volumes for what the accordion can do when played properly with taste and musicality.

Yes, all of these things happened and it looks like the evening was definitely a rousing success for the Long Island Accordion Alliance (LIAA) and the Village Lanterne Restaurant in Lindenhurst, Long Island.

The Accordion Alliance has, since it onset two years ago, started to created an “affaire de coeur” on Long Island for the accordion which can well be well documented by the attendance at its regular monthly meetings (first Tuesday of every month) at La Villini Restaurant in East Northport, Long Island.

A very special thank you and congratulations go out to the restaurant owner who recognizes the value of the accordion and accordion music and also to all the Long Island Accordion Alliance (LIAA) members without whom none of this success could be realized.

Long Island Accordion Alliance (LIAA) can be reached at 631.864.4428 or at

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

Joe Soprani to Receive Prestigious Award

by Rita Barnea
Joe Soprani
Joe SopraniJoe Soprani, of Broomall, PA, who recently appeared with the Phillie Phanatic during the Brewers and Phillies game at Citizens Park in celebration of Italian Heritage Night, will receive the Distinguished Achievement Award presented by the District Five Grand Lodge of PA, Order Sons of Italy in America. The event will take place at The Drexelbrook, Drexelbrook & Valley Road, PA, Sunday October 21st at 4 PM.

Joe Soprani is a noted accordionist, educator, arranger-composer whose reputation among professionals places him in the first ranks of contemporary accordionist. He has dominated the accordion scene in Philadelphia for over forty years playing in major concert halls, theaters, TV Shows and Hotels.

He holds the distinction of being the only accordionist in the history of the Philadelphia Orchestra to appear as a featured soloist under Eugene Ormandy.

While accordion soloist with the USAF Band in Washington, DC under Col. George S. Howard, he won the "The Air Force Roger", the most prestigious entertainment award in the US Air Force. He also was the first accordion soloist with the PA Army National Guard Band "The Adjutant General's Own" for over eight years. 

On five occasions, Soprani appeared with opera singer Luciano Pavarotti at the Spectrum in Philadelphia and  has performed for President Eisenhower at the White House. 

To add to his impressive list of credentials, Soprani was invited to arrange the opening selection for Rock star Jon Bon Jovi's 1996 world tour and has also written the official song for the International Rotary Club. 

In addition to performing in Broadway shows such as "Fiddler on the Roof", "Zorba", "Cabaret" and "Erma la Duce", he has performed in world premieres of "Frida", a musical that called for a virtuoso accordionist and "Another Kind of Hero", a musical which featured Soprani on stage for an entire scene.

Soprani, who appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show and won the Arthur Godfrey Show, appeared with TV Star Nell Carter in a "Colors of Freedom" Production at the Convention Center in Philadelphia in 1995. He also appeared with Peter Nero and the Philly Pops playing a special arrangement by Nero with Soprano Evelyn de LaRosa.

In November of 1997, Joe Soprani became the first accordionist to perform in "La Traviata" by Verdi presented by the Opera Company of Philadelphia, at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia.  Klaus Arp, the opera conductor from Germany, decided to use the accordion in the small ensemble on stage during "La Banda" sections. 

Joe Soprani, who is the in-house accordionist on the Don Giovanni Show, can be heard regularly on the Big Talkers. He performed with Russell Watson on Good Morning America and continues to promote the accordion as a serious instrument at various clubs and organizations. His workshops at schools and colleges where he demonstrates his skills as performer and arranger to young composers and arrangers have been well received. Programs are being planned by his newly formed Concert Trio (Accordion, Piano and String Bass) and Italian Folk Trio (Accordion, Mandolin and Guitar.)

For further information:

Bottom photo:
Joseph Soprani, accordion soloist with the United States Air Force Band (1955-59) is being welcomed by the Japan Accordion Association on the band's first tour of the Far East. (1956)
Joe Soprani

The Art of Playing the Accordion Artistically by Friedrich Lips

Cory Pesaturo In Concert

by Rita Barnea
Cory Pesaturo
Yasmine and CoryCory Pesaturo, award winning accordionist, continues to dazzle all with his performances. Recently he performed with Wynton Marsalis, at Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Wynton Marsalis is a trumpeter, composer, teacher, music educator, and Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City, United States.

Marsalis has promoted the appreciation of classical and jazz music often to young audiences. Marsalis has been awarded nine Grammys in both genres, and a jazz recording of his was the first of its kind to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music.

Cory also performed for the French American Cultural Society in San Francisco on September 8th. As he did last year, Cory will perform on live TV, during the Columbus Day Parade starting with Gracie Mansion on Tuesday October 2nd,hosted by Mayor Bloomberg. Cory will perform with American Idol Finalist, Elise Testone. On this years American Idol, Elise sang "Vienne" by Billy Joel accompanied by an accordionist. Cory will accompany Elise on this song on live TV.

Cory performs with Zulu Time Trio at the NewBridge on the Charles on October 6th at 8 PM. Zulu Time is a New England based trio committed to putting their unique spin on music from around the world. Recent performances in and around Boston have met with great praise, and the trio is happy to announce the release of their first album in June 2011. Zulu Time performs a vast array of repertoire, including folk music from Europe, tangos, French musette, Klezmer, jazz standards, and classical works.

The trio’s colorful arrangements and dazzling performances are sure to keep audiences on their toes. Members are: Gabriel Solomon, violin; Richey Tally, bass; Cory Pesaturo, accordion.

Violinist Yasmine Azaiez and Cory will be taking their Duo Improvisation and Pop Music project to France for a 9 day Festival, Grand Sufflet, in Rennes, France. They will also teach improvisation and ear training at a French School as part of the festival. Yasmine is of Tunisian origin and a violinist of international renown. Cory and Yasmine have mixed bow and bellows, jazz, tango and world music.

As evidence, they saw the magic of the duo and the opportunity to create a new project. The Great Bellows has a chance to hear both sides of their their talent including electro pop around the accordion, violin and voice, electric capital formula and an acoustic version and world music.

Cory has won the 2009 Coupe Mondiale Digital Accordion Champion and the accoustic TV Primus Ikaalinen 2011 International Accordion Competition. Cory Pesaturo is a graduate of the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, MA, where he was the first musician ever to major and graduate in the accordion.

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

Cory released his new CD, "Zulu Time", an acoustic trio of big music for a small world. (Boston Trio of World Music). The group performs sparkling arrangements of compositions by Bela Bartok,  Gus Viseur, Astor Piazzolla, Hermeto Pascoal, Robert Schumann, Jaco Pastorius, Wayne Shorter, and Michael Brecker. Their repertoire spans genres from Jazz, Musette, Tango, Klezmer, folk music of Bulgaria and Macedonia, Classical, and original compositions.

Its members have performed in Canada, the United States, the U.K., Finland, France, Spain, Italy, South Africa, India, New Zealand, and Japan. Zulu Time has been featured in performances at the Blackstone River Theatre in Cumberland, RI, with acclaimed drummer Bob Guillotti, at the Mendenhall Scholarship concert at the Waldorf School in Lexington, MA,  and at the Longy School of Music.

Zulu Time began as a chance meeting outside a Cambridge Coffee House in 2001. Since then, they have cemented a dynamic onstage chemistry with an omnivorous musical appetite that is slightly irreverent but deadly serious. Violinist Gabriel Solomon, Bassist Richey Tally, and accordionist Cory Pesaturo are classically trained, improvisationally oriented, and fun addicted.

Zulu Time is the only group in Boston to include an amateur meteorologist, race car enthusiast, and world champion accordionist – and that’s just Cory! They will release their self-titled debut recording in 2011.

Pesaturo's extensive resumé includes appearances at the White House for President and Mrs. Clinton on 4 different occasions. On one of those occasions, he became the youngest person ever to perform at a State Dinner. He has since performed at 6 events for the Clintons and continues to keep in touch as proved by his 12 letters from the First family.

A recent letter of congratulations to Corey by former President Bill Clinton is linked - 2011Clinton. The letter is a little inaccurate referring to the International TV Primus Ikalinen competition as a World Championships but is a noteable letter for the personal handwritten note to Corey of encouragement and saying "I like your playing."

Because of his first performance, Cory is featured in Mrs. Clinton’s book “An Invitation to the White House”. In 2009 alone, Cory performed in 5 different continents, from Italy, to Canada, to New Zealand, to Japan and Tunisia.

At 11, Pesaturo opened at the former Warwick Musical Theater for the ill Myron Floren, and later that year performed at the Sergio Franchi Memorial Concert where he has now performed for 10 consecutive years. In July 2002 at age 15, Cory became the youngest ever National Accordion Champion.

A win in a concerto competition at the New England Conservatory of Music gave Pesaturo the rare opportunity to perform at the 2003 Christmas Pops Concert with the Brockton Symphony Orchestra as a featured soloist, where he became the youngest accordionist to ever solo with a symphony orchestra. Cory performed Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, which this performance can actually be seen on YouTube.

Concerning his Jazz side, Pesaturo recorded two CD’s with saxophone legend George Garzone and his famous band “The Fringe”, and has been performing with them in the Boston and Providence region. It has been said across the globe by various accordion and jazz artists, that Cory is undoubtedly the Best Young Jazz Accordionist in the world, which was put into play when he improvised most of his World Championship performance in Coupe Mondiale competition.

Corey Pesaturo is also heavily involved with the weather and motor sports worlds as well. From 2005 to 2006, he composed the Official list of records set by the inconceivable record-breaking 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. He has also written the lists for the 2007 and 2008 Seasons as well.

Moreover, he has put out a report and list of the 2009-2010 Winter Season for the United States. Furthermore, his music is regularly played on Formula 1 broadcasts and he is currently working on a Formula 1 book that he believes will change the way people look upon the sports history and its champions.

For further information:

Accordion Repairs Made Easy by John Reuther

Mario Tacca and Mary Mancini in October Performances

by Rita Barnea
Singer Mary Mancini and accordionist Mario Tacca will be performing at the Villa Vosilla Boutique Resort, Tannersville, in the Catskills, NY, on Saturday October 6th at 10 PM. Joining them will be tenor Rinaldo Toglia.

Mario writes, “What better way to celebrate the vibrant colors of autumn than by being surrounded by the Catskill mountains and spending a cozy evening filled with unforgettable music?! Consider booking a weekend stay at this lovely resort!”.

Additional October performances include:
October 13, 14 at the Magnanini Winery, Wallkill, NY
October 16 at Villa Vosilla
October 20, 27, 28 at the Magnanini Winery

For further information email:

Dr. William Schimmel's Performance Schedule

by Rita Barnea
Dr. William SchimmelDr. William Schimmel was featured accordionist in the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center, New York on August 11. He performed with the International Contemporary Society in a piece by British Composer Jonathan Harvey titled “Bird Concerto with Pianosong”. The piece was in homage to French composer Olivier Messian especially in regard to Messian's interest in birdsong. The piece contained prerecorded live birdcalls that were manipulated electronically. The New York times singled Dr. Schimmel out by stating: “The heave of William Schimmel's accordion – and its big surges have Messian-esque muscularity.” The performance took place at Alice Tully Hall.

On August 25, he performed at the Orpheum Theatre in Tannersville NY, in a performance sponsored by Close Encounters with Music performing Chick Corea's “La Fiesta” as a solo, took a request from the audience to perform a spontaneous improvisation on “All the Things You are”, performed two ensemble pieces: Dave Brubeck's “Blue Rondo ala Turk” and Jorge Martin's “Ropa Vieja”.

0n September 3, Dr. Schimmel performed at The Park Avenue Armory in a concert with soprano Lauren Flanigan titled: “The Unsung Kurt Weill” – a collection of songs by Weill not known to the public. He will appear again on October 20 with Ms. Flanigan

On October 7, 14, 21 and November 4 and 11, Dr. Schimmel will perform with Cabaret singer Mark Nadler in a show titled: “I'm a Stranger here Myself” – a collection of songs written by composers during the Weimar Republic. The performances will take place at 54 Below – a new performance space part of the famous Studio 54. On November 8, he will perform with The New York City Opera in readings of New Works (Vox Series). On November 10, He will perform Luciano Berio's “Sequenza 13” at Cafe Vivaldi in New York (Greenwich Village). On December 13, He will appear at the Phillips Collection in Washington DC in a concert sponsored by The International Contemporary Ensemble

Dr. Schimmel and his wife, director/choreographer, Micki Goodman have produced a new video: “Redemption” – which includes music and performance by Dr. Schimmel, videography and performance by Micki and editing by Deborah Magocsi. The video can be seen on YouTube.

For further information:

November 3rd Workshops With Joan Grauman in Williamsburg, Virginia

by Rita Barnea
Joan GraumanOn Saturday, November 3rd from 2 to 5 PM, the Accordion Revolution Club in Williamsburg, Virginia will host an afternoon with Joan Grauman.  There will be an opening reception with refreshments and a display of Joan’s collection of “The Accordion in Media”, an extensive collection of advertisements and greeting cards spanning nine decades.

The following two workshops will be:
!."The Early Years of the Piano Accordion in the US:  A Look at Pietro Frosini and Anthony Galla-Rini" 
Joan, historian for the American Accordionists’ Association (AAA) will speak about the amazing contributions of Pietro Frosini and Anthony Galla-Rini, two pioneers of the accordion.  Both men started their careers as stars of Vaudeville.  Both men wrote music, created teaching techniques, performed, promoted, and brought recognition to the country’s wonderful new instrument:  the piano accordion. Joan will bring a collection of their books, articles, photos and sheet music.

2. "Playing Ethnic Music Authentically" 
Attendees will be able to print out sheet music prior to the workshop and familiarize themselves with pieces of music from Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Austria and Rumania (a Jewish Klezmer tune).  During the workshop, Joan will demonstrate ornaments, accents, and the other subtle nuances that “authenticate” the folk music of these regions.  She will have a hand-out that provides information on the folk music from each region represented. 

The Accordion Revolution Club welcomes all and there will be no charge for the afternoon of workshops. For location and more information on the event, please contact Jim Rice at: (757) 880-3308 or send him an e-mail:
For the sheet music, please contact Joan:

Joan Grauman was the co-director of the Columbia (Maryland) International Folk Dancers and also directed their performing ensemble in the late !970s and early 80s.  Her experience as a dancer came in handy when she joined the celebrated Balkan band, BAMCO, as their accordionist and played for dancers with this band for the next 18 years (1987-2001).  Joan was also the accompanist for two acclaimed Klezmer clarinetists, Daniel Rozas and Fred Jacobowitz.  She was the accordionist for the Baltimore German/Austrian dance group, GTV Immergrűn, from 1979 to 1982 and played in Dale Wise’s “Accordion Plus Players” band in Virginia from 1987 to 1999. 

In 2004, Joan started the Potomac Accordion Ensemble, which she still directs.  This group of nine accordionists performs at national accordion conventions and local venues.  Joan teaches accordion, and is the Vice President and orchestra conductor of the Washington Metropolitan Accordion Society. She is on the governing board of the American Accordionists' Association and is the organization’s historian.

Also an artist, Joan had her first art exhibit at the age of 16 and has worked as a free-lance illustrator ever since.  Her artwork can be found on menus, logos, calendars, children’s books, jewelry and t-shirts all over the world.  Joan and her husband, Dan, own and operate the mail-order business, SqueezinArt, which features her artwork on gifts for accordionists. They are also the directors of an annual accordion orchestra camp (formerly the Frank Marocco Accordion Event, now the Mesa Accordion Event) in Mesa, Arizona. Joan and Dan currently reside in Frederick, Maryland in a home lovingly filled with “all things accordion”.

Celebrate National Accordion Month at Acme Accordion School in November

by Rita Barnea
Joanna and Stanley DarrowThe versatility of the accordion will be celebrated at the 34th Autumn Accordion Day Free Concert and Festival on November 4th at the Acme Accordion School, 322 Haddon Avenue, Westmont, NJ. Stan and Joanna Darrow invite you to enjoy a day of music that varies from Classical to Baroque, Jazz, Show Music, Ethnic-Pop, Contemporary, Romantic and more.

The program will begin at 10:AM informally with various soloists performing music from the varied genre. At 11:30 AM Tom Groeber will perform.

The Annual Accordion Day Photograph will be at Noon. Remember to bring your accordion! The goal is to have 100 accordionists in the photo. At 1PM., ensembles from the Acme Accordion School will perform concluding with the well known Westmont Philharmonia Acordion Orchestra.

Invited guest soloists include:
Mr.Tom Groeber who has been an active participant of this special festival for many years. Tom specializes in ethnic German and Austrian music on his piano accordion as well as on his Bavarian Button Box. He has often been a guest at the American Accordion Musicological Society Festivals and he performs regularly with various groups in the Delaware Valley area..

Dr. Lou Persic is a retired Radiologist and Nuclear Medicine Physician, who as a child studied the accordion under Paul Donath at the Wurlitzer Studios in Philadelphia.  He has entertained at various community events including the National Athletic Association Gymnastics Meet, the weddings of all his children and the AAMS conventions dinner hours. He was honored by the American Accordion Musicological Society as a supporter of the accordion.

Mr. Bernie Gardzalla began his studies at the Anthony Kotulak School of Accordion when he was six years old. He earned a B.S. and M.M. in music education and a B.M. in organ performance. Mr. Gardzalla served as principal organist of the Cathedral of St. Peter in Scranton, Pennsylvania and currently teaches music for the Wyoming Valley West school district. He is active as a concert organist and accordionist as well as assistant conductor of the Wyoming Valley Band, in which he is also principal trombonist.

Throughout the day from 10:00AM till 4:00 PM, there will be performances as well as an accordion mart where anyone who has an instrument they would like to display for the accordion mart may do so. Call Stanley Darrow 856-854-6628 to make arrangements. This must be pre-arranged, as there is only room for 15 accordions in the Accordion Mart .All proceeds from the Accordion Mart will be placed in the Acme Scholarship Program.

This event is open to the public and FREE of CHARGE. A Free Will offering is graciously accepted and will be placed in the ACME SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM

For further information: 856-854-6628 Joanna Darrow or,
Acme Accordion School, National Accordion Month

Voci Armoniche

Paul Betken Pays Tribute to Leon Sash at Florida Smash

by Rita Barnea
Paul BetkenLeon SashAccordionist Paul Betken (left photo) from Phoenix, AZ, will perform a tribute to his music teacher, Leon Sash (right photo), at the Florida Smash on November 9-11, 2012. (See article on Florida Smash in this issue.}

The tribute idea was originally the brainchild of Nick Ballerini, Jerry Cigler and Paul. Jerry Cigler and Paul presented a tribute at the Las Vegas International Accordion Convention, a one hour performance with full rhythm section featuring jazz of the American storybook. The performance was emceed by Paul Pasqualli, director of the Las Vegas International Accordion Convention.

Leon Sash was recognized as a child prodigy on the accordion at the age of 12 years. This was the same age that he lost his sight due to glaucoma. His natural abilities were later culled by his studies with Lou Klatt and the legendary, Andy Rizzo of Chicago. Many consider him to be one the greatest teacher of jazz accordionists of all-time with students such as Art Van Damm, Frank Morocco, and Tommy Gumina, to name a few.

In the eyes of many people, Leon Sash was considered to be one of the finest jazz accordionists. The illustrious career of the blind virtuoso spanned almost four decades of international fame and recognition. His accomplishments included composing, arranging, staff musician at WLS radio in Chicago, TV guest appearances, concerts and club dates in some of the top jazz rooms in the country, plus the well-deserved honor of being the first accordionist to participate in the Newport Jazz Festival (1957). In the International Musician, Leonard Feather named him one of the “Giants of Jazz.” Other jazz critics called him, “gifted, fantastic, even the president of the button-bellows society.”

Leon Sash was known for his prodigious technique in both single note and inter-locking block chord improvisation and phenomenal bellow control. Sash continually succeeded to prove the accordion to be a viable jazz instrument with a swinging driving style that could not be denied. His talents were not limited to the accordion for he entered the night-club scene playing vibes and guitar. He was also fond of and studied violin.

During his career, he recorded for EmArcy, (“Leon the Leon” and “Package for Peggy”), Verve (The Leon Sash Quartet—at Newport Jazz Festival 1957), Storyville, Columbia, and Delmark (“I Remember Newport” 1966) labels. His quartet shared billings with jazz greats: Zoot Sims, Gerry Mulligan, George Shearing, Errol Garner, and Dave Brubeck at top jazz clubs such as Storyville in Boston, the Café Bohemia in New York, and Chicago;s famous Blue Note. George Shearing (the famous jazz pianist) was so impressed with Leon that he was quoted in Down Beat magazine as saying, “In jazz, he’s the best. When I heard him play, I decided to give up accordion.”

Leon Sash introduced the Bassetti system in a performance at Orchestra Hall playing Bach’s, “Prelude and Fugue in C Minor,” to the amazement of all. He recorded experimental accordion ensembles in big band jazz with the use of bass, tenor, and other accordion types during the 1960’s with Jerry Cigler. At WLS radio in Chicago, he played as a regular as a staff on the Barn Dance show using the pseudonym, Dusty Sands and in the “Cosmopolitans” with the jazz great violinist, Eddy Vana. This group had the honor of playing before 20,000 people in Washington DC at the inaugural of President, Jimmy Carter. His untimely death occurred on November 25, 1979.

Paul Betken is an accordionist, arranger, composer, performer, singer, and entertainer from Phoenix, Arizona. (originally Chicago, Illinois).. Begging to play the accordion, his father managed to scrape up $35 for his first instrument. Then, at the age of 10 yrs, he started his studies on the south side of Chicago . At an early age, Paul was the kid on the accordion that all of the other students wanted to play like.

After winning numerous first place awards and other related outstanding recognitions at various local and state level competitions, he started on the road to a professional musical career. At the age of 14 yrs., he and Johnnie Faren (a Chicago percussionist and Ted Mack National Champion) became “Stix and Fingers” a musical act performing in shows all around Chicagoland. During this period, each appeared on T.V.—Paul, locally on WGN (Chicago) and Johnny, nationally on NBC (Miami and Radio City Music Hall). Together, they enjoyed weekly appearances at local nightclubs, private parties, and various entertainment venues eventually performing in downtown hotels including a show at the Empire Room at the Palmer House with Jerry Murad’s “Harmonicats.”

At the age of 15 yrs., after a formal audition for acceptance, Paul commenced his studies under the legendary Leon Sash, a “world class jazz blind accordionist.” Along with most of Leon’s “guys,” Paul was not only introduced to the unique artistic style and musical passion of a master accordionist, but he was able to develop a close lifetime relationship with Leon, second only to his father. Leon promoted Paul’s musical talents to his fellow musician friends all over Chicago.

For the next 35 years, Paul jobbed (as a solo, in small groups and orchestras) all over Metro Chicago. His experience has been with the finest musicians Chicago has to offer: radio and TV staff musicians of WGN (Bozo Circus) and WBBM. He has worked at shows, private parties, theatres, country clubs, hotels, lounges and venues too numerous to mention. Paul has been a sideman on numerous recordings, appeared on TV, and worked concert dates with Bobbi Vinton, Toti Fields, and Jill St. John. In 1980, he began playing other keyboards, piano, singing and entertaining.

In 2005, he moved to Phoenix. He enjoys casual engagements and jam sessions with the finest jazz players Phoenix has to offer. He keeps active at National events and festivals. He has been busy for the last six months in rehearsal working on his latest CD hopefully to be released early next year. His new CD format is in the Pop/Jazz mode show-casing the accordion on tunes which one would not expect to be heard played on the accordion.

His recent appearances include:
Appearances at the Annual Arizona Accordion Festival (2007 to present);
3rd Runner-up in 2009 Senior Division, Roland Accordion Festival Competition
1st Runner-up, Senior Division, Roland Accordion Festival Competition (2012)
Impromptu jazz duet with Frank Marocco in Mesa, AZ at the Frank Marocco Accordion Event (February, 2010);
Stage-sharing performances with his friend, Mario Pedone, at the Arizona Accordion Club and at the “Big Squeeze” in Reno, NV (2010 and 2011);
A solo luncheon concert performed at the International Accordion Convention in Las Vegas (October 2010,);
Appearances at “Volpes” Restaurant, Petaluma, Ca (2010, 2011, 2012) performing for the Cotati Accordion Festival attendees (see at:
A concert performance as the invited Guest Artist of the Month at the Arizona Accordion Club (October, 2011);
Workshop at the NAAC Convention, “Music Law—copyrights, recordings, etc.,” Dallas, 2012.
Performance at the North Hollywood Accordion Club, July 2012;
Performance w quartet at the “Jazz Series” at Sacred Grounds, Phoenix, AZ, entitled “A Tribute to Leon Sash” July, 2012.
Duet performance at the International Accordion Convention entitled, “A tribute to Leon Sash,” with premier jazz accordionist, Jerry Cigler, Chicago, Illinois.
Presently engaged in a new solo accordion CD project at the Teahouse Recording Studio, Phoenix, Arizona, September, 2012.

Bottom photo:Art Van Damme, Charles Magnante, Joe Vento, Leon Sash, Myron Floren
Art Van Damme, Charles Magnante, Joe Vento, Leon Sash, Myron Floren
© 2022 Accordion USA. All rights reserved. To comment on these pages, e-mail the webmaster.