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MARCH 2003

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Accordionists in Hollywood
Victor Prieto performs in Brooklyn, NY
TAA Festival is Here!
Meet the Accordion Association of Calgary
AFNA Annual Festival in August
New Accordion Society in Washington DC Area
CD by Jon Hammond
Cavan Farewells Accordionist
AAMS Festival
Gary Dahl releases new Italian Book
Just for Fun
March Dates at a Glance

Accordionists in Hollywood

On February 7, the most successful American woman film composer ever - Los Angeles based Shirley Walker took the podium at Warner Bros. Eastwood Scoring Stage to conduct the first-ever accordion section, part of the 90-piece orchestra that will bring to life her much-anticipated score for New Line's soon to be released remake of the cult classic horror film 'WILLARD' featuring Crispin Glover in the title role. The six accordionists involved in the project included: jazz legend Frank Marocco, Nick Perito, Dart Zubis, Ed Vodicka, Liz Finch and former CIA World Champion accordionist - John Torcello.

In addition to Shirley Walker doing the Musical Score, the film also features Glen Morgan (Director); James Wong, Glen Morgan (Screenwriters, Producers); Robert McLachlan (Director of Photography); The Character Shop (Special Effects) and stars Crispin Glover (Willard); Laura Harring; R. Lee Ermey; Jackie Burroughs; Kim McKamy and David Parker.

Recording all day from 10.00 am to 5.00 PM, the six accordions were seated across the center of the orchestra behind the string section and in front of the woodwind section.

One of the accordionists, ATG Board of Director and regular fixture in the film studios in Los Angeles, Liz Finch reports that the sound engineers positioned the overhead mikes right above the six accordions, so they could balance the level of sound from the accordion section with the rest of the orchestra to ensure that they were part of the overall fabric of sound. Before anything is played or recorded, the sound engineer went through each section of the orchestra: strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion to get a reading for his levels. Each section usually plays a part of the cue they begin with (the main title in this case) for the engineer to listen to. He went through each section finishing with the accordions. A rare event to have an accordion section, the orchestra was quite intent as they played as a section for the rest of the orchestra to hear...and they loved it. From then on, they were mixed with the orchestra and served as an integral part of the group. Pictured above are Nick Perito, Ed Vodicka, Dart Zubis, Liz Finch, Shirley Walker, Frank Marocco and seated John Torcello.

On a humorous note, Shirley asked at one time that the first and second accordions (Frank Marocco and Nick Perito (known for his arranging for Perry Como, Carol Burnett, etc...) to not "swing" an eigth-note figure! This was reason for a few smiles, as Frank, a veteran film studio artist, is known as one of the best jazz artist 'swingers' today!

Shirley Walker is a cornerstone in the film music industry as a composer, arranger, orchestrator, conductor, and "score doctor" extraordinaire. A pioneer for women film composers, she stood at the podium at a time when no women were doing so in the industry. Although a number of women have written music for film before Walker was hired to write for Memoirs of an Invisible Man in 1992, her credit was groundbreaking in that it was the first time a major Hollywood studio hired a woman as the sole composer. The project was so significant to various Hollywood insiders that an audience gathered at the scoring stage during the first scoring sessions to witness the historical occasion and experience the lore.

Always a highly visible role model as a woman in a man's world, Walker continues to tackle projects traditionally assigned to male composers, such as action, superhero, and science fiction pictures. After Memoirs, Walker followed her solo debut with the highly acclaimed score to the animated feature, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. A critical favorite with its grand orchestral fanfare and gothic themes, Mask of the Phantasm is indisputably one of the best Batman music ever to be composed. In 1995, she co-wrote the score to Escape from L.A. with John Carpenter, successfully inventing a dark, industrial action atmosphere for the film while capturing an "old west," futuristic, and world music feel. Walker followed this synthesizer action with the intense and chilling orchestral score to MGM’s 1997 suspense thriller, Turbulence (starring Ray Liotta and Lauren Holly). She continued to establish herself as one of the leading talents in superhero action music with the greatly anticipated Batman Beyond, a futuristic, techno/grunge rock underscore.

Her cutting edge work in scoring is critically loved in television as well as film. She won a Daytime Emmy Award as musical director on the praised animated Batman series, and received nominations for composition for both the Batman and Superman series. She received a Cable ACE nomination for the Blair Brown film Majority Rule, a Prime Time Emmy nomination for the popular Fox series, Space: Above and Beyond, and two Annie nominations - one for the animated Superman Main Title Theme and one for her original score for HBO’s Spawn series. She also scored NBC’s highest-rated television Mini Series of the season, Asteroid, and a TV movie for Disney entitled, The Garbage Picking, Field Goal Kicking Philadelphia Phenomenon.

Before film music, Walker had a distinguished career as a piano soloist with the San Francisco Symphony, beginning while she was still in high school. She got her first big break as a synthesist on Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 feature Apocalypse Now, and co-composing credit on Coppola’s Black Stallion, in that same year. Throughout the years, she has secured a place for herself in the industry as a leading orchestrator and conductor, and worked in extensive collaborations with such illustrious composers as Hans Zimmer and Danny Elfman. Her work in these roles can be heard in such hit films as Batman, Days of Thunder, A League of Their Own, Backdraft, and True Lies.

As a film composer, Walker has invented an intriguing, original sound: the bombastic underscore. Her music often finds that delicate balance between thematic fanfare for the superhero and suggestive ambiance for the superhero's world, not in separate cues, but simultaneously. Rather than being limited to a certain character or scene, Walker's themes tend to serve the larger purpose of creating a musical world and atmosphere for the film. The result is an intense and penetrating musical backdrop that cleverly captures the futuristic, eerie, industrial, or fantastic feel of the story setting. Walker has a special facility for dark, superhero scores, as evidenced by her prolific and profound work for Batman, Superman, and Spawn. Actually, it is quite easy to understand why she worked so well with Hans Zimmer and Danny Elfman - her own style reflects the same kind of emotional power characteristic of Zimmer and portentous darkness typical of Elfman. But no matter what genre she writes for, it is clear her music will always go for the gusto, just like her.

Based on the novel "Ratman's Notebooks" by Stephen Gilbert, this current project is a remake of the 1971 film of the same name and which starred Bruce Davison as Willard. That film was followed by a sequel, appropriately titled Ben, and which is probably best remembered by film buffs as featuring a pop song about Ben by a very young Michael Jackson. This remake of Willard follows a young man named Willard (Crispin Glover) as he plots revenge on his boss when his pet rat is killed. His plan: send out an army of intelligent and deadly rats (led by one named Ben) to kill the coworkers. The film is due this spring.

Shirley made history leading the accordion section (six accordion players including one bass accordionist) as they collectively enhanced the menacing presence of 'Willard.' The song makes a surprise appearance in this new film.

Be sure to look for "Willard" beginning March 14th, 2003.
(photo credit: accordion section with orchestra pictures by Dana Ross)

Victor Prieto in Brooklyn, NY

New York accordionist Victor Prieto will be featured with his duo Los Extrangeros (Victor Prieto - accordion and Clay Ross - Guitar) at the Brooklyn Restaurant "Allioli" in March.

Victor Prieto started his musical career at the age of nine, encouraged by his mother to concentrate studies into the accordion,Victor has now come a long way. Victor earned his classical music diploma earned in the Professional Classical Music Conservatory of Orense. (Conservatorio Profesional de Musica de Orense).

Although this accordion background focused on classical training, Victor always aimed for the contemporary freedom in the Jazz idiom. He studied Jazz at Estudio Escola de Musica in Santiago de Compostela.

March dates for the Allioli Restaurant are March 5th, 12th, 19th, 26th all at 8:30 PM
291 Grand Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Phone: (718) 218-7338

Other performances include Sundays at 'Bar Tabac' at 12 PM, located at 128 Smith Street in Brooklyn, phone: 718-923.0918 and March 2 at Barbes, located at 376 9th St. (corner of 6th Ave.) Park Slope, Brooklyn Phone: (718) 965 9177.

For more information, please visit or contact Victor at:

TAA Annual Festival is Here

The Texas Accordion Association is gearing up for its annual convention from March 6-9, 2003 at the Holiday Inn - Plano, Texas.

For those of you that wonder what really goes on at the TAA convention... you will find Workshops, Concerts, Jam Sessions, Endless "Open Mike", Dealers, Swap Shop, and Accessory Sales, all in a fun atmosphere as attendees delight in sharing their love for the accordion.

Featured in 2003 you'll find: Festival Accordion Orchestra, Festival Band, Jazz Training Button Accordions, Ethnic Music and other related topics. There will be four Public Concerts including the TAA Jazz Trio - Frank Marocco, John Simkus, Nick Ballarini, Christian Family and TAA Youth Concert, the Friday Evening Concert and Saturday Evening Concert. The two orchestra directors will be Mary Medrick and Alice Aman.

Workshop clinicians are:

  • Frank Marocco - Jazz theory and Improvisation '101'
  • John Simkus - A Touch of Jazz
  • Jim Rommel - Squeezing Music from Fake Books and Lead Sheets
  • Betty Jo Simon - Precision at any Speed!
  • Gordon Kohl - Playing Dance Music
  • Mary Medrick - Rhythm, Rhythm, Rhythm
  • Nick Ballarini - 'Bass'ically up to Nick!
  • Ron Pivovar - "Extreme Musical Diversity"
  • Randy McPeck - Accordion Clinics I and II
  • Margie and Mike Aman - Musicality in the Aman Corner
  • Greg Klugiewicz - Round Table "Accordionists Anonymous"
  • Kim and Dan Christian - How to be Better Accordionists
  • Janet Todd - The Accordion on Stage!
  • Ponty Bone - Squeezing A Living by Playing the Accordion in Bands
  • Dick Albreski - Accordionists Anonymous Round Table
  • Paul Pasquali - "Understanding the Accordion - Sounds & Construction."

For hotel Reservations please call the Holiday Inn in Plano at: 972 881 1881 (days only)
Hotel: $59.00 per night. For all other details, please visit the TAA website for workshop descriptions and on-line registration. For all other inquiries, please contact TAA President:
Norman Seaton:

Accordion Association of Calgary

The Accordion Association of Calgary (formally the Young Accordionists Association of Calgary) is a registered non-profit association, formed in 1988. Initially, they were a group of teachers, students, parents, and pro-accordionists who wanted to encourage the playing and development of the accordion. We wanted to establish an education and support system that would provide the foundation for its long term health in our city and beyond. Within its membership, all kinds of music are represented, such as folk, ethnic, classical, pop and any other kind of accordion music they can get their hands on which is played by soloists, groups, and orchestras.

During its short existence, they have established an environment for budding musicians that provides purpose and rewards for their efforts. Since 1990 they have been the only organization in Calgary enabling accordionists to present their music to the public. The Calgary Kiwanis Music Festival no longer includes the accordion in their annual Music Festival, so they are filling a great void within our musical community.

The Accordion Association of Calgary states its 'mission' as 'to provide the foundation for the long term health and popularity of the accordion in our city and beyond.'

Among its goals, are:

  • To provide the education and support system that will provide our members with the elements necessary to achieve their goals within accordion music
  • To educate the mass public about the tremendous versatility and beauty of the accordion.
  • To preserve the accordion as an important part of Canadian heritage, and ensure it's long term survival.
  • To encourage young people to learn and present accordion music with pride and musical skill
  • To set high standards to work for through tools such as examinations, diplomas, and competitions.
  • To set goals to prepare, present, and perform for (through recitals and competitions).
  • To make available both published and unpublished music that is otherwise difficult to obtain.
  • To provide social events where music and friendship are exchanged.
  • To provide a quarterly newsletter to keep members informed about upcoming events, instrument sales and other topics of interest.

During its years of accordion activities, the The Accordion Association of Calgary has accomplished things such as:

  • Have established an examination system with syllabus, diplomas, and qualified examiners
  • Have established and presented scholarships to young accordionists at our annual music festival
  • Have held an annual music festival to promote presentation skills, socialization with peers, and development of musical discipline.
  • Held annual concerts for young performers, providing opportunity for them to experience public appreciation
  • Have published a quarterly newsletter to members.
  • Have successfully exposed the accordion to a broader range of the mass public, and educated them about the accordion.

For further information about activities or membership, please contact:

Accordion Association of Calgary
32 Armstrong Cresc. SE
Calgary, AB, T2J 0X3
Contact Person - Tony Van Ham
Phone: +1 403-253-0830

AFNA Annual Festival in August

The Accordion Federation of North America (President Randall Martin, pictured right) will hold its 48th Annual Music Festival from August 21 - 23, 2003 at the Radisson Hotel LAX in Los Angeles, California. This event consists of Solo, Duet, Trio and Band Competition for Accordions and Solo and Duet Competition for Piano. The festival also has categories for Guitar, Drums and other instruments and recently added a Vocal competition held all day Saturday.

The Festival features a Friday night Pageant Dinner Banquet during which trophies for Royal Court Category Winners are awarded. Everyone is dressed formely and the Accordion and Piano King and Queen are Crowned along with their courts of Princes and Princesses, Dukes and Duchesses, Counts and Countesses and Lords and Ladies. The AFNA Festival ends with a Saturday Night Concert featuring top category winners of Accordion and Piano Solos and the Accordion Band Competition.

Most categories require the contestant to be a student of a member Accordion/Piano School, so if your school is not yet a member of the organization, have your school contact us for details before May 2003. The current AFNA President is Randall Martin.

For further information, please contact: or visit

New Accordion Society in the Washington DC Area

Accordionists in the great Washington DC area are invited to join with the newly formed Washington Metropolitan Accordion Society. Meeting for the first time on February 11th, the Society will meet every second Tuesday of the month.

Accordions are no stranger the DC area. Pictured left is the AAA Festival Orchestra under the direction of Auckland Symphony Orchestra conductor, Gary Daverne playing in front of the US Capitol building during a festival hosted by the American Accordionists' Association.

Meetings will start with a business meeting then break out into small groups to play accordions, so everyone is encouraged to bring instruments, stands and music, or, just come along to listen.

Meetings will take place at the Sleepy Hollow Methodist Church, 3435 Sleepy Hollow Road, Falls Church, VA 22044. Suggested donation $2.00 to cover the cost of the church rental.

For further information, please contact:
Karen Denice, Phone: 703-256-0199

New CD 'Hammond's Bolero'

A new CD by the Jon Hammond Trio was released recently in San Francisco. The trio comprises of Jon Hammond (accordion), Ronnie Smith (drums) and Alex Budman (saxophone). Special guest guitarist Joe Berger also performs with the trio.

Tracks include "Hammond's Bolero", "Jennifer's Song" and a 9/11 Tribute Medley that includes "America the Beautiful", "Get Back in the Groove" and "Bordeaux Gork Pop". Most of the songs were composed by Jon Hammond.

The group will perform at an in-store party and concert at Tower Records, San Francisco on March 1st. For details e-mail:

CAVAN farewells accordionist Brett Gibson at NTIF

Accordionist Brett Gibson says farewell to Cavan as he performs his final two concerts at the upcoming North Texas Irish Festival and the Gladstone St. Patrick's Irish Festival.

Brett has enjoyed some wonderful concert experiences with the band, however is moving on to pursue other performance opportunities with a number of instrument combinations as well as solo ventures.

Cavan, which performs a variety of music drawn from and inspired by the ancient Celtic traditions of Ireland, Scotland, Brittany, and Galicia will perform as regional headliners at the annual Irish Festival and the Gladstone Festival.

Their concerts combine the compelling Celtic dance rhythms: Jigs, Reels, Waltzes, and Strathspeys, with songs telling stories from past and present. Since three of the members are composers, they perform an unusual number of original songs and tunes for a Celtic band.

AAMS Festival

The American Accordion Musicological Society, (AAMS) announces its 16th Annual A.A.M.S Accordion Festival from Friday, Saturday & Sunday, March 7th, 8th, & 9th, 2003 at the Holiday Inn, 260 Mall Boulevard, King of Prussia, PA.

The American Accordion Musicological Society, (AAMS) is a society devoted to the preservation of the History of Accordion as well as to its Future Cultural Development.

Featured at this years festival are The "K" Trio. They will be performing in concert as well as presenting a workshop.

The schedule is as follows:


  • The Basics of Jazz Improvisation 6:30 PM - GB Lenn Feldmann


  • Oldies & Goodies 9 AM - GB Sam Fire
  • Accordion Classics 9:30 AM - 410 Ron Onda
  • Disecting My Accordion Concerto 10:30 AM - 410 Bill Popp
  • Music of Eugene Ettore & Charles Magnante Part 3 11:30 AM - 410 Rita Davidson
  • The Art of the Polka Duo 12:30 PM - GB Charles Kofira & Mike Dellapenna
  • The Art of Proper Bellows Technique 1:30 PM - 410 Frank Hodnicki
  • The Russian Accordion Scene 2:30 PM- 410 James Vandelly
  • What is the importance of Free Bass Accordion 3:30 PM - 410 Stanley Darrow &
    Joanna Arnold Darrow


  • Ethnic Accordion Styles of Bulgaria, Albania, & more... bring your
    accordions to the workshop... volunteer to learn some of the odd meters
    9:30 AM - 410 Dee Langley
  • How we do it! ...for our trio 10:30 AM - 410 The "K" Trio
  • The Cajun Accordion Scene... 11:30 AM - 410 Rick Kaplan

For further information, please contact: Joanna Arnold Darrow, 322 Haddon Ave., Westmont, NJ 08108 or call: (856) 854-6628. Information is also available at:

Gary Dahl Releases new Italian Book

Accordionist, arranger and teacher Gary Dahl has just released a new book of Italian Songs and Arias that he has arranged for accordion.

Accessible for all levels of proficiency, including advanced, intermediate and easy levels, most of the arrangements in this 78 page book are advanced and intermediate level.

This book entitled "Italian Songs and Arias" contain many arias as well as traditional favorites that have never been arranged for accordion utilizing all of its superb orchestral capabilities. Arrangements include favorite arias such as Nessun Dorma, Quando Men Vo and O Mio Babbino Caro to name a few. Price is $12.95 plus shipping.

For a full list of available books and other services offered by Gary Dahl, please visit:

Just for Fun

March Dates at a Glance
For important dates in March, please refer to the Future Events page located on this site, by selecting from the menu to the right, or by clicking here.


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