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February 2004
Anthony Galla-Rini Celebrates 100th!
AAA to offer $12,000 in Cash Prizes
Accordion World Looses Tom Collins
TAA Celebrates Annual Festival
NAMM Festival in Los Angeles
Super Bowl Pepsi Ad Causes Outrage
70th Anniversary of the Deffner Legacy
Dr. Schimmel in Concert
Will Holshouser in Brooklyn, NY
Mika Vayrynen Opens International Class
Tango Lorca Concert in Kansas City
AAA Commission on Grammy Nominated CD
Toronto Accordionist and Beyond the Pale
AAMS Festival in PA Honors Joseph Axsmith
Far West Button Jamboree in California
Guy Klucevsek in performs in France
Master of Mexican Music Road Show
Art Van Damme in Michigan
Stas Venglevski Broadcast around the World
Jerome Richard to debut in the USA
Jay Landers has Out of Studio Experience
Henry Doktorski Performs in Rare Weill Opera

Anthony Galla-Rini Celebrates 100th Birthday
This year's birthday 100th Birthday Celebration was organized by Sylvia Prior, a longtime friend of the Galla-Rini family, who has previously organized all past birthday parties except for the 99th birthday part last year, that was organized by the Accordionists and Teachers Guild, International (ATG.)

(NB. In celebration of Galla-Rini's 100th, Birthday, this year the ATG will be holding the Galla-Rini International Centennial Competition for Classical Accordion with $5,000.00 in Cash prizes at their festival which will be held in Milwaukee, WI from July 21-25, 2004.)

Although Maestro Galla-Rini's actual birthday was on January 18, the party had to be held on January 24., 2004. This gave our dear friend the opportunity for two parties, one on his actual birthday with his family, and one on January 24th with over 200 admirers and fellow musicians. It was an outstanding 3-day occasion beginning with the accordion orchestra rehearsal on Friday evening conducted by the Maestro, followed by a secret rehearsal of the 78 member group by Joan Cochran Sommers as a surprise for the Saturday evening concert. Afterwards, the many guests for the weekend gathered on the rooftop bar for several hours of impromptu accordion music, dancing, and meeting and greeting both old and new accordion friends from all over the United States in addition to others such representatives from the Zero Sette Accordion Factory in Castelfidardo, Italy and Jorgen Sundequist from Sweden.

Saturday began with more friendly get-togethers for conversations and quick sightseeing in the area. At noon another orchestra rehearsal was held for the finishing touches for the evening concert. It was truly inspiring and most remarkable to have Anthony helped from his wheel chair up to the podium where he sat on a piano bench to rehearse and conduct the orchestra by memory throughout each musical selection chosen for the program. As has been his tradition throughout the years, the Maestro conducted all music by memory and, even at the age of 100, continued to give proof of his marvelous ear for the occasional wrong note played by a member of the orchestra. In addition, and also by tradition, he gave little humorous remarks off the cuff during the necessary breaks resulting in much laughter among the eager listeners. (pictured right, Myron Floren, Amy Jo Sawyer and Maestro Galla-Rini.)

At 10 AM representatives from the Accordionists and Teachers Guild, International and the American Accordionists Association held a meeting to discuss their joint offer to host the CIA Coupe Mondiale in the USA in 2007. It was a most successful meeting, one of many to be held in the future, with many favorable ideas and plans discussed. It is interesting to note that it was indeed Anthony Galla-Rini who arranged for the USA to become members of the Confederation Internationale des Accordeonistes many years ago and who, also, has had many students as entrants in the Coupe Mondiale during the ensuing years.

The Saturday evening celebration began with cocktails at 5 PM followed by dinner at 6 PM and concluding with a magnificent musical program emceed by none-other than the one and only Myron Floren.

Appearing on the program: Johnny LaPadula (1956 Coupe Mondiale Winner); Nick Ballarini; Gordon Kohl; Stas Venglevski and John Simkus; Jorgen Sundquist; Amy Jo Sawyer; Martin Music Choir and the Martin Music Accordion Ensemble.

Interspersed with the music were letters and personal remarks wishing the guest of honor good health and thanks for his many contributions throughout the years.

The grand finale to the evening began with the 100 year-old Maestro Anthony Galla-Rini conducting his arrangements of

  • "Fanfare" from "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" by Richard Strauss
  • "Paragon March" the official ATG March by Anthony Galla-Rini
  • "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" by Richard Rodgers.
  • "God Bless America" by Irving Berlin conducted by Joan Cochran Sommers
    (This surprise ending to the program was one of Galla-Rini's favorite pieces. Joan is one of Galla-Rini's many former students taking part in the celebration.)

Upon conclusion of the musical program, Maestro Anthony Galla-Rini was surrounded by the many well wishers seeking numerous photographs and autographs. It was truly a gala event, one that every attendee will long remember and cherish. It was also a warm tribute to the genius of the accordion icon, Anthony Galla-Rini, a man who has contributed greatly to the history of the accordion. A man whose name will go down in the books not only as a performer of the first rank but, also, as a composer, arranger, author, teacher and one who has made lasting changes in the instrument and its mechanics. His contributions over these 100 years cannot be enumerated!

The AAA Offers $12,000 in Cash Prizes

The American Accordionists Association announces two exciting competitions during its annual festival that will offer $12,000 in prizes split over two new Entertainment competitions.

Held during the beginning days of the festival, the Vivian Vivio Stolaruk Memorial International Entertainment Competitions for Accordionists
are just part of the exciting events planned during the festival which will take place from Sunday July 11 - Thursday July 15, 2004. Registration and selection of playing position will take place Sunday July 11, 2004 at 4.00 PM in the Marriott Hotel Lobby and the competitions will take place on Monday, July 12, 2004.

The festival will still take place at the Boston Marriott Quincy. Festival hotel rates are $95.00 per night - Single, Double, Triple or Quad occupancy. For reservations, please call the Marriott at: 617/472-1000. (Be sure to mention AAA Festival to obtain these discounted rates).

All cash prizes for the Vivian Vivio Stolaruk Memorial International Entertainment Competition for Accordionists have been donated by Steve Stolaruk, in memorial tribute to the divine remembrance of his wife, Vivian Vivio Stolaruk. The competition will be divided into two sections:

Junior up to 18 years of age

  • First Prize: US $5,000
    Promotional Website ($500.00 value)
  • Second Prize: US $3,000
  • Third Prize: US $2,000
  • Trophies for all Prize Winners
  • Certificates for all Participants
Virtuoso up to 32 years of age
  • First Prize: US $1,000
    Promotional Website ($500.00 value)
  • Second Prize: US $750
  • Third Prize: US $250
  • Trophies for all Prize Winners
  • Certificates for all Participants

Must perform a choice program consisting of "entertainment" music for accordion solo only - no electronics. Please see the AAA website at for full details.

In addition to the competitions, the festival will also feature:

* Competitions for all ages
* Cash Prizes and Awards
* Sightseeing Tour and Massed Band Performance
*Exciting Workshops
* Luncheon Concert
* World of Accordions Traveling Museum
* Festival Orchestra Performance
* Entertainment Competition
* Gala Concert featuring
Frank Marocco, The Busso Trio, Alexander Poeluev-2002 Coupe Mondiale Winner,
Tony Dannon & Joe Cerrito and many others

* Afternoon Awards Concert
* Festival Banquet

Please contact the Festival Committee for further information:
AAA Executive Office
580 Kearny Avenue
Kearny, NJ 07032 USA
Phone: 201-991-2233
Fax: 201-991-1944


Accordion World Has Lost a Great Friend - Tom Collins

Tom Collins passed away peacefully on 7th January 2004. A minor knee operation led to an infection being caught at the hospital causing pulmonary fibrosis which then led to this unexpected passing.

Tom was born in Piqua, Ohio on April 14, 1921 the second son of Charles E. and Hazel P. Collins, both deceased. He was preceded in death by an older brother, John R. Collins, a younger brother Charles E. and sister Nancy Jane. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Bettie B. Collins, and two sons and their wives, Michael T. and wife, Carol and Patrick C. and wife, Claudia. There are four grandchildren, Cari, Matthew, Chad and Scott and five great-grandchildren, Elle, Addilyn, Bailey, Maeve and Gracyn.

After graduating from high school in Piqua, Ohio he attended the University of Pennsylvania and graduated cum laude from Ohio State University in 1947. He served 4 years in the US Navy and finished his military career as an executive officer on the LST-141 in the Mediterranean Theater with the rank of lieutenant.

In 1949 he moved to Missoula with his family and was first employed by the Missoula Mercantile Co. He served on the board of both the Missoula and the Montana Chambers of Commerce. After his appointment to the first Missoula City/County Planning Board he later became Director of the State Dept. of Planning and Economic Development.

From 1965 until 1979 he was on the staff of the University of Montana administration in various capacities. At the time of retirement he was executive director of the University of Montana Foundation. He served on a number of board and commissions including the Montana Bank system, the Alexander Dawson Foundation of Las Vegas, The Trout & Salmon Foundation, the Montana Historical Society Foundation, the Craighead Wildlife/Wildlands Institute, The Alexander Dawson Schools in both Denver and Las Vegas, and the Water Heritage Trust.

During his lifetime he had a profound interest in all outdoor activities and was active in various environmental organizations. He was a member of Rotary, Elks, Masons, Shrine, the Royal Order of Jesters, and Sigma Alpha Epsilon. In 1975 he was awarded the prestigious Gilmour Memorial Trophy which is given annually in New Zealand to an American who has enhanced international relations through his high standards of sportsmanship. He was recently awarded the Neil Bucklew Presidential Award by the University of Montana.

Formerly a professional accordionist, he had devoted much of his senior years furthering the acceptance of the instrument through compositions, seminars, and performances throughout the world. Almost annually he performed as guest artist with the Air New Zealand Accordion Orchestra, as well as, numerous performances in England and throughout the United States. He will be remembered by many as the Grand Gentleman of the accordion world.

It is requested that memorial donations be made to either the Water Quality Fund in the Dept. of Environment Studies, The Thomas J. Collins Scholarship Fund, the Grizzly Riders Memorial all in the University of Montana Foundation, the Shriners Hospital, Box 2472, Spokane, WA 99210, or any charity of the donor's choice.

Condolences to his wife Bettie and all their lovely family. It is a sad loss.

It was Tom’s wish, that a Wake be held instead of a funeral. The date of "Tom's Party" will be 21 February. A memorial service will be held 11:00 AM February 21, 2004 at First Presbyterian Church, 201 South 5th Street, Missoula, Montana 59801.

TAA Annual Festival - The Accordion Homecoming

The Texas Accordion Association will hold its annual Festival in Richardson, Texas, just outside of Dallas from March 11-13, 2004.

The festival will feature four festival orchestras and an array of informative workshops and seminars. Ongoing accordion lessons will be offered in the Hotel lobby for any of the general public to partake in, and festival attendees will also have the opportunity to get some hands on experience fixing accordions when they will be invited to help restore the 'Norman Accordion' back to top playing order.

This year the Advanced Festival Orchestra will be conducted by Gary Daverne, the conductor of the Auckland Symphony Orchestra, in Auckland, New Zealand. This is the third time that Gary has been invited to direct the TAA Festival Orchestra. The other Orchestra directors include Mary Medrick from Texas and Alice Aman and Kim Christian from Colorado.

During the festival Petosa Accordions based in Seattle, Washington will be unveiling their Millennium Ciao Accordion which will be available all weekend long for guests to try.

For a full schedule of workshops and festival activities pleas visit the The Texas Accordion Association website.

For further information, please contact TAA President Norman Seaton e-mail: or phone: 972-270-3791.

NAMM Festival in Los Angeles

Jon Hammond writes: NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) wrapped up it's annual four day trade fair Sunday January 18th at the Anaheim Convention Center in California. The show was well attended and accordions of all types were evident throughout the show. One computer plugin demo utilized an accordionist which proved one thing: computers can do almost anything in music...except play the accordion!

The motto of this year's show was: "Before there was an association or even an industry, there was a belief...a Belief In Music." Bonnie Raitt held a press conference together with the Boys and Girls Club of America to encourage the musical instrument manufacturers to donate musical instruments and support music education for urban youth. The traditional opening parade around and through the exhibits sounded off with the song: "Takin' Care of Business" by Bachman Turner Overdrive.

The general consensus was that this year's NAMM had the best attendance since September 11 affected the business. Many of the exhibitors will also be exhibiting at Frankfurt Musikmesse which will take place slightly later than usual: March 31 through April 3rd.

For further information: or

Super Bowl Pepsi Ad Causes Instant Outrage

The Super Bowl Sunday advertisement from Pepsi entitled "Crossroads" caused instant outrage among accordionists with protests immediately being lodged to Pepsi and the Advertising agency that produced the ad. Within minutes of the Advertisement being displayed to millions of TV viewers around the world, protests began circulating on-line.

The Advertisement set in 1953, showed a young Jimi Hendrix seeking refreshments and being shown choosing between a Pepsi and Coke machine. At the same time, he was shown viewing two music stores, a store selling Guitars (with contemporary sound track of modern guitar playing Purple Haze) and viewing "Bobs Accordion Store" (with a rather degrading out of whack version of Purple Haze.)

After buying a Pepsi and taking a drink, the young Hendrix supposedly has a revelation and a music legend is born. At the same time, the inference was also that because he chose the guitar over the accordion, it was also the reason the a music legend was born. The ad concluded with the verbiage relating to his decisions ... Phew.. that was close!

The advertisement is available to view on the Pepsi website and readers are encouraged to Contact Pepsi ( to lodge their complaints at the insensitivity displayed during this prime time session.

70th Anniversary of the Deffner Legacy

"Ernest Deffner, Inc. and its affiliates, Pancordion, Inc. and The Titano Accordion Company, International, will celebrate the firm's 70th anniversary throughout 2004," according to an announcement made by Faithe Deffner, who heads the firm.

The company is known worldwide for its professional instruments in the Pancordion and Titano accordion brands. As Ernest Deffner Publications the company offers an extensive catalog of accordion music and books.

Dr. Schimmel in New York

On January 9th, Dr. William Schimmel was the featured accordionist with the ensemble Sospeso at the Angel Orensanz Center in New York.

Dr. Schimmel performed in new orchestrations of Brahms, The Songs of Bjork as well as the music of George Plimpton. For more information:

On January 10th, he performed with Ted Nash and Odeon at the Jazz Standard. A second Odeon CD is now in process along with other recording projects including:

  • Bad Renaissance - Dr. Schimmel (solo accordion featuring Micki Goodman and Kathleen Goodman)
  • Tango/Fado/Reality - Dr. Schimmel (solo accordion featuring Allyssa Lamb)
  • CD of Brazilian music (with guitarist David Burgess)
  • Fromage Dangereux - a Tango By Dr. Schimmel (performed by pianist Louise Bessette)
  • Kosovo, the Land of Broken Dreams (performed by The 'K' Trio)

Dr. William Schimmel earned his doctorate of Music from Julliard. A composer, author, lecturer, philosopher and virtuoso accordionist, he performs in a wide variety of styles from classical to pop and has appeared with many major symphony orchestr as and recorded with such noted performers as Sting and Tom Waits, whose celebrated remark, “Bill Schimmel doesn't play the accordion—he is an accordion,” has entered accordion legend.

An authority on Kurt Weill, Dr. Schimmel has recorded all of Weill's music with accordion. He is a prolific composer from the concert stage to Broadway theater and is founder of the renowned Tango Project. In 1992 he was named “Best Accordionist” by Keyboard Magazine and recognized as the figure who has done the most to elevate the accordion's image.

For more information:

Will Holshouser Trio in Brooklyn, NY

The Will Holshouser Trio is back, with its special blend of modern jazz and folk music, custom-designed for accordion, trumpet, and bass.

Will Holshouser Trio will be performing at Barbes on Friday, February 13th, 9 PM, 2 sets with a suggested cover $5.00 (optional). The Trio features Ron Horton, trumpet, Will Holshouser, accordion and David Phillips, bass.

Barbes, is located at 376 Ninth Street (at Sixth Ave.), Park Slope, Brooklyn NY. Telephone
718-965-9177 or visit

The Trios CD "Reed Song" (Clean Feed label) is available in NYC at Downtown Music Gallery, on the web through North Country distribution (

David R. Adler from the "All Music Guide" says... accordion virtuoso Will Holshouser fashions an offbeat, richly textured trio concept on Reed Song . . . there's a wonderfully romantic quality to these ten original pieces. . . Holshouser knows how to eschew categories, refurbish old-world sounds, and grab the ear with airy, attractive melodies."

Will is a student of NY accordionist Dr. William Schimmel and performs regularly around the New York area. For more information, please contact Will at:

Mika Väyrynen Offers New Accordion Class in Finland

Concert accordionist Mika Väyrynen will open a new International accordion course at the Lahti Polytechnics Faculty of Music in Finland (formerly the Lahti Conservatory) beginning in September 2004. Mika will operate this class in addition to his current course that he is teaching at the Sibelius Academy of Music in Helsinki.

Classes are offered for both Finnish and foreign students with courses being designed to accommodate specific needs of the student. The course will be taught in either Finnish or English. Foreign students will have an extra emphasis placed on performance skills both in solo and chamber music. The full program will take 4 years to complete, however those transferring from other Conservatories may receive credit for this previous studies. The Faculty of Music will provide assistance in setting the course requirements and finding housing in Lahti.

Interested students should apply to the Lahti Polytechnics Faculty of Music before 2nd April, 2004 for the September course. The entrance examination will take place on 17 or 18th of May, 2004. Three pieces must be performed in the audition.

For further information, please contact:

Lahti Polytechnics Faculty of Music
Svinhufvudinkatu 6 F-G,


Mika Väyrynen has performed as a soloist with several orchestras including the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Okko Kamu and in the world-famous festivals including Lahti International Organ Festival, Kuhmo Chamber Music, Tuusula-lake Chamber Music, Korsholm Music Festival, Moscow Bayan Festival and the Beijing Accordion Festival.

Mika's repertoire is exceptionally broad, including contemporary accordion music, transcriptions from various periods, new tango, concertos and chamber music.

Tango Lorca in Kansas City

Kansas City based accordionist Lidia Kaminska and her group Tango Lorca performed to a standing room audience with several hundred in attendance at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art Auditorium during a January 16th Concert.

Performing the music of Astor Piazzolla, the concert of Tango Lorca was performed with dancers Korey Ireland and Karen Choun.

Merge old world tango aesthetics with a sinuous texture of jazz, flamenco and classical music and you have the immediately distinctive sound of Tango Lorca. Formed in 1999, this fiery quartet has created a fresh and continually growing body of original compositions and arrangements equally suited for the dance hall or the concert stage.

While evoking an undoubtedly Argentine sentiment with classics from the "Golden Age", they also create new, innovative works with a timeless sense of beauty. Tango Lorca plays their music with a deep understanding of tradition as well as an obsessive desire to evolve the art form to new plateaus.

For more information, please contact:

AAA Commissioned Work on Grammy Nominated CD
The American Accordionists Association commissioned work Passacaglia and Perpetuum Mobile for accordion with Chamber Orchestra by José Serebrier was recently recorded in Toulouse National Chamber Orchestra.

Under the American Classics series released by the NAXOS label, the works span fifty years of Serebrier who was born in 1938. The CD is up for a Grammy Award under Category 94 - Best Orchestral Performance an award to conductor and orchestra. The CD itself has also been nominated for another Grammy under Category 102 for a Best Classical Contemporary Composition (award to composer) for his work Symphony No. 3 on the same CD.

Originally Owen Murray, the professor of accordion at the Royal Academy of Music in London was invited to record the work, however, due to health reasons, had to cancel his engagement. Fearing the recording would be too short without the AAA commissioned work, the composer wrote a new composition entitled Symphonie Mystique. However, a student of Owen's, a graduate from the Royal Academy 'Yi Yao' stepped up to the plate giving a virtuoso performance for the recording, so in the end, all the works were recorded.

Yi Yao was born in Beijing, China. She started the piano and accordion aged 5, and at 12 played a solo recital at Beijing Concert Hall, the main concert hall in Beijing. She has won numerous prizes in National Competitions at both piano and accordion and has made several recordings, one of which was broadcasted on the Chinese Central Television Corporation. She is an active performer, having played in Sweden, Malaysia, Italy, Thailand, Egypt as well as frequent concerts within China.

In 2000, she gave the Chinese premiere of the Gordon Jacob Accordion Concerto in the Beijing Theatre, China. She graduated from the Royal Academy of Music with a 1st class Degree where she studied for four years with Owen Murray, and has played for Friedrich Lips, Mie Miki, Oleg Sharov and others. Her reputation while at the Royal Academy was the highest, having scored the highest marks in end of year examinations.

She was invited to perform at the London Accordion Festival and with the prestigious Halle Orchestra at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. As well as being an active soloist, Yi is also an active chamber musician, including her duo partnership with flute last year and her present duo with piano.

In reagrds to the AAA commission Serebrier writes: I received the commission from the AAA to write a work for accordion and chamber orchestra , the Passacaglia and Perpetuum Mobile, for accordion and chamber orchestra (1966.)

"The instrument was entirely foreign to me, but Elsie Bennett, past President of the Organization and brains behind the commissioning series, lent me an accordion, which I studied for weeks. Its was a great challenge, because the chords provided by the buttons on the left side of the instrument were ready-set giving the composer very little freedom for tonal imagination and variety. The instrument has since then been improved, and composers today do not have that problem. I gave the commissioning organization a bonus, a piece for solo accordion which I wrote at the same time -
Danza Ritual.

Serebrier was born in Montevideo, Uruguay on December 3, 1938, of Russian and Polish parents. At the age of nine he began to study the violin, and at age eleven made his conducting debut. While in high school he organized and conducted the first youth orchestra in Uruguay, which toured the country and gave more than one hundred concerts over four years.

Upon graduating from the Municipal School of Music in Montevideo in violin, solfege, theory, and Latin American folklore at age fifteen, opportunities for conducting Uruguay's only major orchestra were not forthcoming. That year, the annual composition contest by the National Orchestra, known as SODRE, was announced very late, only two weeks before the deadline. The young musician, thinking that if he won he might be permitted to conduct his work, entered the contest with a hastily written Legend of Faust overture.
The 18-minute work was orchestrated in the last four days and nights, and the last page composed on a taxi while rushing to meet the deadline. Serebrier won the contest, however, since the composer was only fifteen, his work was assigned to a guest conductor, Eleazar de Carvalho.

Today, Serebrier conducts most major orchestras around the world, and has become one of the most recorded conductors of his generation, with well over one hundred releases. His published compositions, many of them written at an early age, also number over one hundred.

The recording is on the NAXOS Label, No. 8.559183 under the 'American Classics' series, with José Serebrier conducting the Toulouse National Chamber Orchestra.

Milos Popovic performs in Canada

Toronto based band called Beyond the Pale featuring featuring accordionist Milos Popovic recently made a live CD recording in Toronto, Canada, on January 24, and January 25.

Since their formation in 1998, Toronto's Beyond the Pale has emerged as one of the most exciting ensembles in the Canadian klezmer, folk, and world music scenes. Rooted firmly in the spirit and forms of klezmer music, the group flirts with elements of other eastern-European folk styles (Romanian, Roma, Balkan) as well as modern and North American styles (bluegrass, reggae, funk) to forge a unique contemporary sound. Known both for inventive arrangements of traditional material and for compelling original compositions, their music has been described as "post-modern klezmer in all the best senses" ( and "an altogether original mix" (Victoria Times-Colonist).

The band performs at music festivals, concert theatres, community and private events, and has toured accross Canada and parts of the United States. Their debut CD "Routes" (2001, Borealis Records) has received rave reviews throughout North America and was nominated by the Canadian Independent Music Awards for World Album of the Year, 2001. The group features Eric Stein (mandolin, cimbalom), Martin van de Ven (clarinet), Bogdan Djukic (violin), Milos Popovic (accordion), and Bret Higgins (bass). They are frequently joined by guest vocalists.

With his masterful technique and eclectic tastes, fluent in styles ranging from contemporary classical to jazz and folk, Milos brings high energy and expert musicianship to Beyond the Pale. He completed his musical training in classical accordion at the University of Toronto (B.Mus.). Milos has won many contemporary new music competitions and during the last few years has performed as a member of various musical groups with musicians from Canada and abroad. Milos joined Beyond the Pale in June 2002.

For further information about upcoming concerts and the band, please visit or e-mail

AAMS Festival Honors Joseph Axsmith
During the final preparations for the American Accordion Musicological Society Festival, organizers are arranging an exciting Friday Night Concert, which will be interesting for the general public as well as accordionists. This concert will feature Bandoneon/Cajun/Zydeco
music by the Rick Kaplan Cajun Four. Also featured on this program will be The Westmont Philharmonia Accordion Orchestra as well as the Polka Trio. In addition this years festival will begin one hour early (6:30 PM) with an eventful workshop presented by Rick Kaplan discussing the Bandoneon and ethnic music.

Also featured on this program is the artistic Joseph Soprani. Mr. Soprani has a wonderful career an a concretizing accordionist and will be featured with the Delaware Symphony during the 2004-2005 Concert Season.

This years event is a tribute to Mr. Joseph Axsmith and his lifelong dedication to the accordion and support of the AAMS. A memorial banquet will be held in his honor on Saturday, March 6, 2004, 5:30 PM. Tickets are available through February 28.

Mr. Axsmith directed Axsmith Music Center in Pottstown, PA for many years. He was an active founder of the Tri State Accordion Association and the Pennsylvania Accordion Teachers Association. He was an active member of the American Accordionists Association, and a strong supporter of the American Accordion Musicological Society. He also directed the Velevetones, an ensemble of long standing and high reputation in the area.

Festivities include three major concerts, a banquet, 60 competitive and noncompetitive events, 12 workshops, displays, vendors and an ongoing accordion repair service.

The Saturday night concert will feature The Parade of Stars.

This year, featured performers will be: The Westmont Philharmonia Accordion Orchestra, Stanley Darrow, Joanna Arnold Darrow, Carmen Carrozza, The Zoltan Racz Ensemble, Dee Langley, EvAnn Dahl, Lenn Feldmann, Ron Onda and Stas Venglevski. The Sunday Concert will feature accordion entertainer: Bobby Raye, and exciting and dynamic cruise ship entertainer.

For information, please visit

26th Far West Button Accordion Jamboree

The 26th Far West Button Accordion Jamboree will be held on the 28th to 30th May in the Sons Of Italy Hall, Fontana, California. The Jamboree includes at least three days of music and dancing with at least two bands playing all the time.

This event, organized by the Fontana Slovene Button Accordion Club also includes an accordion contest as part of the event. At the same venue is a Valentine’s Dance organized on February 15th.

For further details e-mail:

Guy Klucevsek in Concert in France
Composer and accordionist Guy Klucevsek will be performing solo in Bordeaux on the 31st of January at the Theater Jean Nilar-Eysines.

The concert is sponsored by Musique de Nuit. His program will include his 12-piece collection, The Well-Tampered Accordion.

Exploring the soulful depth of his chosen instrument with a warm romanticism and daring sense of rhythm, Guy's remarkable repertoire ranges from original Bela Bartok tributes to Shostakovich fugues, from post-modern polkas by Fred Frith to what New York's Village Voice referred to as "criminal infractions on 'The Blue Danube'," with plenty of side trips to Argentina, Slovenia, and the Middle East along the way.

For further details e-mail:

Master of Mexican Music in Mexico
Masters of Mexican Music explores the musical traditions of an important and growing segment of the USA population. Master musicians from four distinct regional traditions - the mariachi of Jalisco, the Veracruz harp tradition ensemble, the accordion-based conjunto of the Texas-Mexican border area, and the marimba of southern Mexico will be performing on the 1st of April at Coolidge Auditorium.

Featured artists include Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano, José Gutiérrez, Mingo Saldivar (right), and Marimba Chiapas.

One of the most innovative and electrifying accordionists in Tejano conjunto history, Mingo Saldivar is unmatched in his virtuosic playing style and prolific songwriting abilities. A San Antonio native, Saldivar has been performing professionally since 1947. With diverse influences from rock and R&B; his accordion style featured rapid-fire fingering, accentuated phrasing and extended melody lines. Taking his cue from other musical genres, Saldivar's vibrant stage personality has earned him the beloved title "The Dancing Cowboy."

In 1975 Saldivar formed his current group, Los Tremendos Cuatro Espadas, which continues to be one of the most progressive conjuntos in South Texas. By tastefully and enthusiastically combining traditional conjunto rhythms (polka, waltz, huapango, etc.) with country, R&B; and rock and roll, Saldivar's music broadens an unmistakable Tex-Mex spirit. Recognition of this successful merging of tradition and innovation came when he was nominated for a Grammy award in 1993.

He has performed nationally at such prestigious institutions and events as Carnegie Hall, Wolf Trap and the 1992 Presidential Inaugural. In the last several years, Saldivar has become a sensation in Northern Mexico, performing for enormous audiences and even sparking a dance craze based on his own eccentric movements.

The national tour is produced by the National Council for the Traditional Arts and the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation. The group will travel throughout the mid-Atlantic region during March/April 2004. Educational workshops, master classes, community activities, and specially designed K-12 programs will be offered to presenters in addition to the public performances. A brochure is available on request.

For booking information, call Madeleine at the NCTA at 301/565.0654 extension 14 or via email at

Art Van Damme Quintet at Wayne State University

The Art Van Damme Quintet will be performing on the 4th of May at Schaver Music Recital Hall, on the campus of Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.

Art Van Damme, a legendary American jazz musician has given the Accordion a whole new unique sound that is internationally recognized. He has combined the Accordion with Guitar and Vibes, and a rhythm section of Bass and Drums, thus creating a unique sound, and with the harmonic melodies and jazz rhythms they produce, truly separated them from any other musical group.

Art is originally from Norway, Michigan, and moved with his family to Chicago in 1934. He had started taking accordion lessons at the age of 9 and did so for 5 years prior to the move to Chicago. He then studied classical accordion music with Andy Rizzo for 4 years in Chicago.

In 1944, Art made his first recording on the Music Craft label. He joined the NBC staff in Chicago in 1945, and spent 15 years doing Radio and TV Shows. Art with his Quintet worked with many top entertainers such as Dave Garraway, Hugh Downs, Ranson Sherman, Howard Miller, Bob and Kay, and Dennis James. The Quintet did a number of spots for top singers and instrumentalist, such as Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Buddy De Franco, and Dizzy Gillespie.

Art has recorded 42 Albums plus a number of Singles on 45-RPM and 78-RPM records. His recordings were on various labels such as Capital, Columbia, and MPS of West Germany. Some of the top artists that recorded with Art were Johnny Smith, Joe Pass, Joe Stafford, Francis Bergman, the Dinning Sisters, and Harry James. In an effort to create a new sound for the Accordion, Art recorded several Albums where he combined the Accordion with Strings, Brass, Flutes, and with the vocal group, Singers Unlimited.

Art has made 37 trips to Europe and Australia, where he did live concerts, and appeared as a guest performer on Radio and TV. He has also appeared on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, the Mike Douglas Show, the Lawrence Welk Show, and the Dinah Shore Show. His nightclub work included the Desert Inn in Las Vegas, Sahara in LakeTahoe, Beneventure Hotel in Montreal, Bayshore Hotel in Vancouver, Harrah's in Reno, and Disney World in Florida.

Besides having the group in the top ten instrumental categories for many years in Billboard, Metroname, and Playboy Magazine Polls, Art Van Damme was voted Top Jazz Accordionist in Downbeat Magazine's Polls for ten consecutive years. He was also voted Top Accordionist in Contemporary Keyboard Magazine from 1976 to 1980. The five-year dominance of C.K. Polls has put Art in the " Gallery of Greats". Plus, the Quintet made more transcriptions than any other small group, including 139 individual quarter-hour shows for RCA Thesaurus and also many commercial spots.

Art Van Damme is undoubtedly one of the finest virtuosos of the instrument. He is to the Accordion what Benny Goodman is to the Clarinet. His precise control of the bellows that has allowed him to accent every note on the instrument along with his stunning technique he extracts, gives him such a unique sound that it is hard to believe your hearing an Accordion. He has done more in helping to recognize the Accordion as a jazz instrument than any other performer. Many of us truly believe, he is the World's Greatest Jazz Accordionist. The show will feature: Art Van Damme (accordion), Steve Carryer (guitar), Rob Pipho (vibraphone), Ray Tini (bass) and Dave Taylor (percussion). The presenter will be: Wayne State University College Of Fine, Performing, and Communication Arts Department of Music

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Stas Venglevski on World Wide Broadcast

Stas Venglevski, President of the Accordionists and Teachers Guild, International, performed on Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion public radio show which broadcast live from Madison, Wisconsin on January 10th. Promoted as "Madcap in Mad-Town" it was rebroadcast the following day.

Stas performed several of his own compositions as well as providing background music from the Nutcracker Suite for a comedy skit. Among other guests on the show was Wisconsin Governor, Jim Doyle. Performed before an audience of over 2,500, the Prairie Home Companion show, presented by Minnesota Public Radio, is distributed nationwide and heard by approximately 3.9 million UP.S. listeners each week on over 500 public radio stations, as well as abroad on American One and the Armed Forces Networks in Europe and the Far East.

The response to Stas' performance has been overwhelming - with calls from across the US and abroad. There was also a simultaneous webcast from which the above picture was taken.

Jerome Richard to Debut in the USA

The Accordionists and Teachers Guild, International (ATG) proudly presents for the very first time in the USA, French sensation Jérôme Richard. Jérôme is undoubtedly one of the most talented virtuoso entertainers of the new Millennium.

A talented performer in both Virtuoso and Classical styles, a composer and teacher and master of improvisation, Jérôme was born on the 29th of June 1980 in Cholet, he began to learn the accordion at the age of 9 years old.

His meeting with teacher Frédéric Deschamps allowed him to perform the feat of winning all the international competitions including:

  • CIA Coupe Mondiale (Virtuoso) - Winner
  • CIA Coupe Mondiale (Classical) - Winner
  • Trophée Mondiale (Virtuoso) - Winner
  • Klingenthal International Competition - Winner
  • Citta da Castelfidardo - Winner
  • Trophée Mondiale (Classical) - Winner

His numerous television appearances include:

  • "La Chance aux Chansons" - presented by Pascal Sevran
  • "Sur un air d'Accordéon" - presented by Michel Pruvot
  • "Soufflet c'est Joué" - presented by Didier Ohmère
  • "Confidences de Nacre" - presented by Eric Vigneron
  • "Rai 2 Internationale" - presented by Paolo Limiti

...When, by a stroke of chance, you are lucky enough to find a precious stone which is in its rough state, the hardest thing is to turn it into a jewel of inestimable worth without altering its original qualities.

His qualities: a natural velocity, unusual sensitivity, a character and charisma which are out of the ordinary, a talent for composition and improvisation; in short, a perfect student, grateful, and an extremely gifted musician. His faults... too many qualities!!! ....Frédéric Deschamps

... Incomparably musically gifted with virtuosity and exceptional, breathtaking improvisation, Jérôme, despite his young age is already one of the best. Apart from his obvious technical skill, Jérôme shows sensitivity, simplicity and a sense of humor ....Maurice Larcange

Make your plans now to attend the ATG Festival in Milwaukee for this chance of a lifetime opportunity to hear
Jérôme as he makes his USA debut!

Jay Landers has an 'Out of Studio' Experience
Accordionist Jay Landers was called to duty on Xmas eve when asked to be in a 'house band' for a popular local radio broadcast on their Christmas Even program.

The first-ever 'out-of-studio experience' for Sam Madonia's holiday bash was a 'live' remote broadcast from the Knights of Columbus on Iles Avenue, the largest such facility in Springfield, Illinois.

The Southern View Minstrel Band comprising Jay Landers - Accordion, Dick Garretson - Trumpet, Jeff Davis - Bass Guitar and John Sluzalis - Drums, provided instrumental interludes throughout the broadcast.

Henry Doktorski Performs in Rare Weill Opera
Concert accordionist Henry Doktorski performed with the Carnegie Mellon University Orchestra and vocalists from the Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama in four performances of Kurt Weill's rarely-performed 1930 opera The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. The performances took place at the Philip Chosky Theater on the campus of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from January 29th through February 1st, 2004. (Two performances were sold out.)

The German composer, Kurt Weill (1900-1950), and poet/playwright Berltolt Brecht (1898-1956) - best known for their most famous work: Threepenny Opera corroborated to create the opera Mahagonny which premiered in Leipzig and was later banned by the Nazi Party. The work is a remarkable twentieth-century classic with a haunting score which combines classical elements with jazz and folk; it also is a savage and lyrical satire on American consumerism. In the fictional city of Mahagonny, profit and pleasure are the ultimate pursuits. The destructive implications for a society organized on the value system of unrestricted economic development and unrestrained sense gratification are the themes which Brecht explores.

Weill's score calls for a standard orchestra consisting of string: violins, violas, cellos and double basses; woodwinds: two flutes doubling on piccolo, oboes, clarinets, three saxophones, two bassoons doubling on contrabassoon; brass: two French horns, three trumpets, two trombones, tuba; percussion: timpani, bass drums, xylophone, cymbals; with the addition of some other instruments not usually found in a standard opera orchestra: piano, banjo, contrabass guitar (such as found in a Mexican guitar orchestra), zither (an instrument having from thirty to forty strings stretched across a flat soundboard and played with a plectrum and the fingers), harmonium and bandoneón (in this production played on the accordion).

Doktorski explained, "The bandoneón appears four times in the opera. During Acts One and Three it discreetly blends with the orchestra to add a little distinctive color to particular moments during certain scenes. However, during Act Two the instrument shines out during a charming duet with the zither in the "Valse lento."

Dr. Robert Page, conductor and music director for the production, elaborated on composer Kurt Weill's use of nontraditional orchestration:

"In Bertolt Brecht's fictitious city of Mahagonny, anyone can do whatever they want. Their philosophy is 'Do your own thing.' There are no restrictions, no limits. You can do absolutely anything in the pursuit of money or pleasure; in excess, to the extreme. For instance, one character gets himself killed when he competes for cash in a boxing match; another eats himself to death.

"Kurt Weill's musical score is a work of incredible genius. He transforms the extreme dramatic events of the libretto into musical statements, and he does this with the colors of the orchestra. The musical colors are as extreme as the disparate scenes of the plot. Weill uses a wide variety of sonic timbres, from the elegant and sophisticated, as in the standard symphony orchestra, to the raw and vulgar (so to speak), as in the bandoneón, banjo, saxophone, and zither.

"The bandoneón (or accordion in our production) and zither together play a wonderful duet in Act Two which is absolutely sardonic. Weill masterfully creates the mood of a simple proletarian or peasant atmosphere by his clever use of orchestration. The two folk instruments (bandoneón and zither) play a stunningly beautiful waltz, while the tenor on stage incongruously sings about gorging himself to excess. He actually boasts that he has already eaten two oxen and is starting on a calf."

Jack: I've eaten two oxen already and now I'm devouring a calf. Never stop at half! I wish I could eat my own body.

Jim: Brother, with pleasure like that, dig in! Never stop at half.

Men's Choir: Dig in! You're not too fat! Eat it up! Eat the calf!

Jack: Brothers, watch me do my best. I'll eat my fill of it yet. When it's gone I'll be at rest. Then I can forget. Fill my emptiness. Give me more.

"However, Jack's unabashed gluttony results in catastrophe when he stuffs himself to death. The men's chorus laments his death, and the bandoneón imitates a wailing bagpipe, reminiscent perhaps, of a funeral ceremony in the Scottish Highlands."

Men's Choir: Brother Jack has departed. See his expression of sheer ecstasy. See his look of complete satisfaction. His whole face is shining. That man went the whole bag. That man never stopped himself. A man without fear. Brother Jack has departed.

"Besides the obvious use of widely contrasting instrumental color, Weill also uses meter to convey the particular 'peasant' atmosphere, and frequently uses the meter most closely associated with folk music: the waltz. This association was not invented in the twentieth century; it goes back in time for hundreds of years. In the nineteenth century, Brahms alluded to folk elements in his monumental German Requiem when he composed one movement in the style of a Ländler. Even earlier in the eighteenth century, another composer, Handel, portrayed the earthy sentiments of the shepherds witnessing the birth of Christ in his Messiah by composing his Pastoral Symphony in the style of a Siciliano.

Page concluded, "Certainly the bandoneón (accordion), although used sparingly in the score, provides an important musical color which contributes to the success of the opera."

The Carnegie Mellon University production of The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny was the first time the work had been staged in Pittsburgh.

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