The Accordion As A Chamber Instrument

Written by: Raymond Bodell for the 70th Year Celebrations held on the 24th September 2006, Leicester, UK.
Publication: British College of Accordionists
Date: September 2006












Administrator: ANNA BODELL
Assistant Secretary: KAROLYN BROADHEAD LBCA.


Assistant Secretary: KAROLYN BROADHEAD LBCA.


from Colin Cook, Chairman of the Governing Council
On behalf of the BCA Governing Council, it is my pleasure to welcome you to this special occasion!

A milestone in the History of the British College of Accordionists. Founded back in London in 1936 – the college is celebrating its 70th anniversary providing an invaluable service for Accordionists throughout the UK. 1000’s of candidates have passed through its examination system throughout its continuance and most of the teachers today have benefited from the numerous classes, workshops and specialised syllabi as have been the college’s feature.

To mark this 70th anniversary the Governing Council members are delighted to welcome you and hope the day proves both interesting and enjoyable.

The last 10 years have seen many changes in the BCA – It was with great sadness we lost our good friend and long serving Chairman of the Board of Administration Francis Wright back in 1997 – but as was his wish the College has continued to thrive and your Governing Council are delighted to announce the recent appointments of Raymond Bodell Bsc(Hons), FLCM, AmusTCL, LBCA(TD), ABCA(TD), LBCA as the new College Principal and Graham Laurie ABCA(TD), LBCA as the new Vice Principal to lead the College in the coming years.

This publication takes a look back at those significant happenings in “The 7th Decade of the College” – meanwhile I wish you all a most pleasant and enjoyable day!

Colin Cook


This indeed was a momentous year in the life of the College with the very sad loss of Francis Wight on the 21st August – a shock to all in the accordion world! Francis had earlier in the year attended the NAO UK Championships and was the recipient of their Merit Award in recognition of his outstanding promotion of the accordion over many years. It is indeed a credit to the memory of Francis that the College has continued and flourished.

In June a reunion of the TAC was held – the guest of Honour was NAO Chairperson Raymond Bodell Bsc(Hons), FLCM, LmusLCM, AmusTCL, LBCA(TD), ABCA(TD), LBCA. The meeting was very informative with many ideas suggested for future discussion and implementation. At the end of this meeting, our Patron Sir James Anderton had great pleasure in conferring the Honorary FBCA Diploma on current Chairman Colin Cook who was celebrating 25 years service as a Founder Member of the Governing Council and over 10 years as its Chairman and Lady Anderton presented the Diploma certificates to successful candidates.

The Governing Council was sorry to hear of the passing of Keith Harling ABCA(TD), LBCA in November who for many years had been the Local Representative for Eastbourne and had always been a keen supporter of the College.

At the end of the year the BCA Council appointed Raymond Bodell Bsc(Hons), FLCM, LmusLCM, AmusTCL, LBCA(TD), ABCA(TD), LBCA as Promotion and Development Director for the College.


Chairman Board of Administration BCA 1969-1997
NAO Chairperson 1966-1969
CIA Vice President 1968-1970

On March 18th 1918 in Leicester Francis was born to Ellen and Fergus, the youngest of 5 children. As a child always played Mouthorgan (by ear) and sang In Church Choir.

Francis served in F Company a training battalion of the Royal Corps of Signals, from 1933 to 1935 as a boy-soldier, and sang In the Catterick Garrison Church Choir under the eminently- strict baton of Bandmaster Randolph Robert Rlcketts (pen-name Leo Stanley), composer of many .military marches. His brother wrote under the name of Kenneth Alford, and was the composer of “Colonel Bogey”. The two were known throughout Army music as the “Ricketts Brothers”.

In 1935 Francis left the army due to his father’s ill heath and returned to Leicester to assist in the family shoemaking business. He took up the piano-accordion in 1937, as pupil of the late George Alexander Sutton, but then had to return to the Army for War-time service. He was re-mustered to the Royal Corps of Signals, serving as a “Special Wireless Operator” (Radio -Wissenschaft) through North Africa, Italy, and - after the war - Austria, covering front-line German regiments.

He continued to play his accordion throughout the war, also broadcasting weekly with the 8th. army‘s own BBC station (known as “B4”, and run by Lt. Clifford Oath - afterwards to become Daily Mirror TV Critic). Near the end of the war these pieces were broadcast from the stage of Cesena Opera House, Italy, with Francis playing an Instrument made for him at the time by Danleie Cintioli of CastIfidardo.

On his demobilization in 1946, he returned to the family-business. On the death of his father Francis opened a music shop. He became a professional-accordionist in 1956, broadcasting for the BBC Midland Region, and devoting his whole attention to the instrument and its interests. He Founded the Lelcester School of Music in 1964 - a body which continues in accordion and guitar specializations up to the present time, together with a fine reputation.

In 1965 he was asked by the late Dr Otto Meyer to take over the responsibility of the British College of Accordionist, a body specializing in accordion Examinations. He continued working with the BCA up to his death in 1997.

Francis was the Accordion Day organizer for the National Accordion Organisation (NAO) from 1965 to 1970 and was Chairman from 1966 to 1969. He was the vice President of the Confederation Internationale des Accordeonistes (CIA) from 1968 – 1970, during which he staged the Coupe Mondiale in Leicester.

In 1958 Francis found that there was a need for publication of Accordion Music from British composers and established Charnwood Music. In 1971 the college instituted an Honorary Fellowship, and this was conferred upon Francis by the then Patron, Lord Taylor, in that year. Over the next 42 years Francis continued to teach and trained hundreds of students in the art of music. Francis played the accordion for over 60 years and he always regarded the pursuit and achievement of perfection as his top priority.

In 1986 he suffered a coronary, followed a year later by a heart by-pass operation. In 1997 he attended the NAO UK Championships and was awarded the National Organisations Merit Award for his “Outstanding service to the Accordion” but sadly at the age of 80 on 21st August 1997 Francis passed away. The end of era especially for the British College of Accordionists.


It was regret that the College received the news of the passing of former Honorary President Ivor Beynon LRAM ARCM, LTCL, ABCA(TD) LBCA on April 28th. Ivor had been a life time supporter of the College, having acted as an Examiner as well as holding the position of both Principal (from 1959 after the founding Principal Dr Otto Meyer) and Honorary President of the College.

During the year the College was pleased to set up its first Internet site which aimed to give information on syllabi, results, history, diploma holders, masterclass and other events. It awarded 1 ABCA(TD) and 1 LBCA Diploma. Meanwhile Tony Fraser regretfully retired from the Governing Council due to personal circumstances.

A new series of Masterclasses were organised under the auspices of Cyril Pasby ABCA(TD) LBCA and Raymond Bodell Bsc(Hons), FLCM, LMusLCM, AmusTCL, LBCA(TD), ABCA(TD), LBCA and were later held at Eton College, Manchester, Bristol, Yorkshire and Northern Ireland in which over 100 accordionists attended.

The team of Examiners held a meeting which looked at consistency, the order of, presentation and conduct within Examinations.

The BCA Governing Council ratified a new syllabus which was published to be effective from January 1999 and we saw the new publication of the BCA Bulletin to keep all informed with developments within the BCA.

IVOR J BEYNON (1919-1998)

Principal and Honorary President BCA

Ivor, who died on 28th April 1998 was well-known to accordionists throughout the world. He devoted over 50 years as an accordionist, clarinetist, saxophonist, composer, teacher and examiner. He made an enormous contribution to improving the status of the accordion in the UK.

In the late 1940s, after he was demobbed from the forces, he joined the teaching staff of the BCA in Farringdon Road, London alongside such well known teachers as Conway Graves, Eddie Harris and Graham Romani. Ivor eventually became Principal of the BCA which became the Mecca for accordionists throughout the UK.

Ivor was not only a great accordionist but was also an outstanding clarinetist and saxophonist, playing with the Sidney Lipton Orchestra for many years. He was featured on radio and recorded with Primo Scala’s Accordion Band, the Gerald Crossman Players and Bernard Monshin’s Sinfonietta. Ivor was often heard on radio and television as one of the country’s leading session musicians.

In the late 1950’s, he opened his own music school, the Ivor Beynon School of Music in Eden Street, Kingston. It soon became the leading specialist music school in the country. Several of his past students are today’s Britain’s top accordionists, teachers and examiners. In due course he became a Director of the London Music Shop. Managing Director of Hohner (United Kingdom), a member of the Royal Society of Musicians and an Examiner of the Associated Board. He also had his on publishing company, Claremont Music. How one man achieved so much during a busy lifetime will remain an inspiration to others! His death following an illness so bravely borne, leaves a great void in the world of Music.

Eddie Moors


The BCA Governing Council was very sorry to receive the resignation of Rosemary Wright AmusTCL, AmusLCM, LBCA(TD), ABCA(TD), LBCA. from her position of Principal due to her continuing ill-health even though she hopes to continue her association with the College by acting as local representative for the Leicester Centre and as an occasional Examiner. The Council were very keen to express their appreciation of the contribution which Rosemary had made over the many years for and on behalf of the College.

The BCA Council was pleased to invite Vice Principal Cyril Pasby ABCA(TD), LBCA to become the new Principal which he was pleased to accept. With his long association with the BCA including some 35+ years as an examiner and vast teaching experience he had all the qualities essential.

During the year the College awarded 3 ABCA(TD) and 3 LBCA Diplomas.

Continuing the sequence of Seminars and Masterclasses further sessions were held around the country including at Eton College and Bristol including one day devoted solely to Diploma preparation.

As the 21st century approached the BCA Council were pleased to consider and approve new paperwork and redesigned certificates.

The College moved and took up its new residency at 112 Countesthorpe Road, South Wigston, Leicester.


The Millennium year was celebrated by the BCA with a reunion of Diploma holders combined with a TAC/ATA meeting held in June at Brooksby Hall, near Melton Mowbray Leics. Diploma holders spanning 50 years (1950-2000) were represented and each received a commemorative Diploma. They included Frederick Parnell, Eddie Moors, Maureen Sosbe, Rosemary Wright, Raymond Jones, Karolyn Broadhead, Vicky Cooper, Audrey Shepherd, Mary Oakley, Rajinder Singh Suthar, Raymond Bodell, Ian Maw, Michael Irving, Sarah Mitchell, Cheryl Diggens, Sarah Diggens, Stefan Bodell, Larysa Bodell, Caroline Mitchell and Louise Savill.

The meeting was very productive and many positive discussions on a variety of Examination issues undertaken. Excellent performances from recent Diploma holders Sarah Diggens ABCA(TD), LBCA and Larysa Bodell ABCA(TD), LBCA were given. Many expressed that it was most enjoyable and worthwhile event.

The BCA Council was pleased to welcome Angelina Brittain BEd(Hons) LBCA(TD), ABCA(TD), LBCA as an Examiner and approved a new Schedule of Pieces to become operational from January 2001. During the year the College awarded 1 LBCA(TD), 2 ABCA(TD) and 1 LBCA Diplomas.

On a sad note the year saw the passing of Sir Jimmy Shand MBE HonFBCA, Chiz Bishop and Tommy Reilly as well as wife of the College Principal Cyril Pasby ABCA(TD) LBCA who himself was in poor health for much of the year.


In May the College Patrons Sir James and Lady Anderton, retired as they had resolved to discontinue their involvement with numerous organisations with which they had been connected for years.

Shortly afterwards former Principal Rosemary Wright Amus TCL, AmusLCM, LBCA(TD) ABCA(TD), LBCA resigned as the Local representative for Leicester and also asked to be removed from the list of Examiners thus sadly ending a long association of the “Wright” name within the BCA.

The BCA Council was pleased to welcome Sarah Diggens Bmus(Hons) LBCA(TD), ABCA(TD), LBCA as an examiner having successfully completed the usual training programme.

In January 2001 a new schedule came into operation proving very successful and the College saw and increase in entries. During this year we saw numerous entries in BCA Diploma examinations with no one being successfully able to complete any diploma, we were are sure this bodes well for the future.

In a year when the National Accordion Organisation hosted the CIA Coupe Mondiale (World Championships) in London it was rewarding to see so many BCA officials involved in this prestigious event.


In February Cyril Pasby ABCA(TD), LBCA who had been suffering ill health decided to step down as Principal of the BCA but did agree to continue to accept the role of Honorary Principal, enabling him to keep his long time connection with the College.

At the BCA Governing Council meeting in March in view of developments the Council decided that given the wide range of work undertaken, that Raymond Bodell Bsc(Hons), FLCM, LmusLCM, AmusTCL, LBCA(TD), ABCA(TD), LBCA should be appointed Executive Director.

To Celebrate 5 years since the death of former long serving Chairman to the Board of Administration Francis Wright, the Council decided to offer a Scholarship. The final was held on Sunday 26th May on the same day of a very productive and enjoyable TAC/ATA meeting. The finalists were Kimberley Catling, William Langton and winner Larysa Bodell ABCA(TD), LBCA.

The Council were pleased to welcome as a member of the Governing Council Gina Brannelli and approved a revised schedule of pieces effective from September of this year.

In a year that saw a significant increase in candidature the college was pleased to award 1 LBCA Diploma.


The finals of this Memorial Scholarship was held on the 26th May 2002 to commemorate 5 years since the death of Francis who for so long was the BCA. Frederick Parnell, who attained his LBCA Diploma in 1950 was Chairman of the Jury in the final round and offered this report on the finalists.

“My colleagues, Karolyn Broadhead, Graham Laurie and myself have felt honoured to be invited to adjudicate this award. Francis’ great enthusiasm and enterprise influenced and enabled the accordion movement to continue to flourish over many years, and young and mature players today can still enjoy the legacy of the College and his many compositions. We have had three interesting, enjoyable and entertaining recitals today.

Firstly, I would suggest to the participants that it is important to announce items and add an anecdote if possible to engage the interests of their audience. Taking their recitals in reverse order:-
KIMBERLEY CATLING – Yours was a very well chosen and balanced programme. It was musical and showed great potential.

WILLIAM LANGTON – Yours was a typical accordion programme, nicely balanced. You have a most engaging and entertaining style.

LARYSA BODELL – You did announce your pieces and they were all played from memory. Your programme was extremely well planned, excellent and ambitious. We all appreciated your musical and artistic handling of the accordion, including the more modern techniques of finely articulated vibrati, glissandi and sound warp. You gave us an extremely accomplished performance.

In her winning Scholarship recital Larysa included The Flight Beyond the Time by P.Makkonen and Partita Concertante No 2 by V Zubitsky should anyone like to get a copy of the music or CD. Congratulations on your achievement”

Frederick Parnell


It was regret that the College received the news of the sad passing of Hon Principal Cyril Pasby ABCA(TD) LBCA on June 13th. Cyril had been a life time supporter of the College having acted as an Examiner for 40 years as well as holding the position of both Principal and Vice Principal of the College.

The College conferred the Hon FBCA on Mro Joseph Psaila, the College’s loyal and long serving Malta Secretary of 20 years standing. This was presented to him by Frederick Parnell LBCA whilst undertaking the examination tour to Malta in the spring.

The Sir James Anderton Award for Excellence was awarded for the first time. The recipient was Jacob Hilton who attained Distinction in both his Grade 6 practical and theory examinations in the year.

The BCA Council was pleased to welcome well known Scottish teacher, Graham Laurie ABCA(TD) LBCA as an examiner and approved a new Syllabus of Practical Accordion, Diploma and Theory Examinations to become operational from January 2004.

During the year the College awarded 1 LBCA(TD) 1 ABCA(TD) and 2 LBCA Diplomas. Arthur Geary retired from the Governing Council. The Council were pleased, later in the year to welcome Robert Fletcher as a member.

CYRIL PASBY (1931 – 2003)

Principal of the BCA
NAO Honorary Vice President

Cyril became a household name to many generations of Accordionists, having commenced to play himself at a very young age under Mr Cliff Hale, he quickly progressed and by the war years his parents had decided he needed to attend the British College of Accordionists. It was here that he met his mentor and future teacher – the late Ivor Beynon who had just been released from the armed services

It was in 1950 and 1952 that he successfully completed the College’s performing and teaching Diploma’s, before commencing his own teaching school in Slough in 1954.

From then he went on to establish himself as an outstanding teacher with students being awarded more than 50 diplomas. His outstanding student was Raymond Bodell who besides attaining all three BCA Diplomas by the age of 17 went on to complete 3 Diplomas with the London College of Music and Trinity College as well as gaining 1st prize in the NAO Junior, Bell Trophy, Senior and Virtuoso National Championships. For more than 20 years he taught accordion students at the renowned Eton College.

He became an Examiner of the British College of Accordionists in 1962 – being a regular visitor on Scottish & Maltese examination tours as well as lecturer at numerous college courses. It was in 1995 that he was appointed Vice Principal of the BCA before assuming the role of Principal in 1999.

Cyril founded Ledgerline Publications in 1974 which was launched at the NAO Accordion Day in Brighton, with the aim of promoting original music for the accordion. He for many years adjudicated at NAO and BFF Festivals throughout the United Kingdom. He also was invited on numerous occasions to represent the UK and adjudicate at the CIA Coupe Mondiale.


The long awaited new format of Theory examinations were introduced for the first time in the November session of this year. Specimens had earlier been released and proved very successful. The concept of workbooks went under further investigation.

The College conferred the HonFBCA on Alistair Gillespie, the College’s loyal and long serving Examiner and Teacher from Biggar Scotland. He always promotes the College whenever possible, giving support and advice on many musical matters. This was presented to him at the NAO UK Championships.

The Sir James Anderton Award for Excellence was awarded for the second time. The recipient was Zoe Stoddart who attained Merit in both her Grade 6 practical and theory examinations in the year.

During the year the College awarded 1 ABCA(TD) and 1 LBCA Diplomas. Ron Willis retired from being an Examiner, Local Representative for Bristol and teacher after many years of loyal service to the College.

The Council were pleased to welcome as members of the Governing Council both Harry Hinchcliffe and Phil Wheeler.


This year saw the formal reformation of the Board of Administration under the helm of Executive Director Raymond Bodell Bsc(Hons), FLCM, LMusLCM, AmusTCL, LBCA(TD), ABCA(TD), LBCA and the publication of a series of 9 Theory Workbooks and 2 Aural workbooks with CD's compiled by Maltese teacher Rita Psaila LRSM, LTCL, LTCL(TD), LLCM(TD), LMusLCM, ATCL(TD), AMusLCM, ALCM. These for many years had been sought and immediately proved a valuable asset to teachers and students.

A new initiative was approved and piloted in Yorkshire primary schools by local representative and teacher Harry Hinchcliffe. The project which aimed to make playing the accordion both assessable and appealing to youngsters having two Introductory level assessments (pre preliminary) proved very successful in the first year.

The Sir James Anderton Award for Excellence this year was awarded to Andrew Hesslewood who attained Merit in both his Grade 6 practical and theory examinations in 2005.

During the year the College awarded 1 LBCA(TD) and 1 LBCA Diploma. The BCA Council was pleased welcome a new examination centre in Newport, South Wales. It also approved a new syllabus containing the schedule of pieces to become operational from January 2006. This syllabus included a major review of the Diploma system and saw the Introduction of a Recital examination extending the demands of grade 8.


The BCA Governing Council is delighted to have appointed Raymond Bodell Bsc(Hons), FLCM, LmusLCM AmusTCL, LBCA(TD), ABCA(TD), LBCA as the new College Principal, Graham Laurie ABCA(TD), LBCA as the new Vice Principal and Alistair Gillespie HonFBCA as the Senior Examiner to lead the College in the coming years.

We also mark the sad passing of former NAO Deputy President and Past Chairperson Ronald Beecham in June.

The College has already had the opportunity to award 1 LBCA Diploma this year in Malta, see 2 new BCA Centres held in Marlborough and Norwich and announce the release of a 3rd Aural Perception book with CD in preparation for diploma examinations. We are also delighted to see the significant promotion of the College in the very established magazine "Accordion Times International" which is now in the hands of Governing Council member Gina Brannelli.

So as the British College of Accordionists celebrates its 70th anniversary with this reunion on the 24th September, the BCA Governing Council would like record our thanks to our young performers on the day, Andrew Hesslewood (Sir James Anderton Award of Excellence recipient 2005), Alexander Bodell, Julie Langton, Faye Ventre and Robert Thorne and thanks to all the examiners, local representatives teachers and candidates for their support over the last decade to ensure that the candidature for BCA examinations continues to flourish.


During the last decade the significant work undertaken by the long serving BCA Secretary PAULINE NOON has justly been recognized!

In 2003, at the National Accordion Organisation UK Championships she was awarded their coveted MERIT AWARD and recently at the Winter Congress 2006 of the CIA (Confederation Internationale des Accordeonists) she was awarded the CIA Honoured Friend of the Accordion diplome which is to be presented in Norway at the CIA festival in October 2006.

It was back in 1965 – some 41 years ago that Pauline was appointed Secretary of the BCA – the role she still continues to hold today! A life time dedicated to this our College!
Besides this role Pauline became a Director of Francis Wright (Musical Instruments) Ltd as well as co founder of the Charnwood Music Publishing Company back in 1959. She has played with the BCA Orchestra, the BCA Chamber Quartet and is now a member of the Leicester Accordion Orchestra and MD of the LSM Accordion and Guitar Band.

She is the current NAO General Secretariat, a role she has held for a number of years and has actively been involved in hosting the World Accordion Championships twice in the United Kingdom in 1968 and 2001 – a gap of just a third of a century!

What can be said but –
“How deserving you are to receive these awards, thank you for all you have done especially for the BCA and may it continue for years to come!”


THE SIR JAMES ANDERTON CHALLENGE SHIELD was donated following the retirement of our Patron in 2002. The Governing Council decided that to encourage candidates over that barrier which exists between Grade 5 and Grade 6 they would award this challenge shield annually to the candidate who has been awarded the highest mark in their Grade 6 practical examination. The trophy was presented for the first time at the end of 2003.

Jacob was the first recipient of the Musical Award of Excellence. He obtained 90.5 marks in his A6 practical in May 2003. Added to this later in the year he achieved Distinction also in his Grade 6 theory examination. A student of Shona Holmes ABCA(TD) LBCA, at then just 13 years of age a young accordion player with a great future.

The second recipient of this Musical Award of Excellence was Zoe Stoddart. Zoe was awarded 87 marks in June 2004 in her A6 practical examination. She also followed this up with attaining the same mark in her Grade 6 theory examination later in the year. She was also again a student of Shona Holmes ABCA(TD) LBCA.

The third recipient of this Musical Award of Excellence came from Yorkshire and was a young man, Andrew Hesslewood. Andrew obtaining 84 mark in his A6 examination, is a student of Raymond Jones ABCA(TD), LBCA , a former examiner for the British College of Accordionists. Andrew also successfully completed his Grade 6 theory examination in 2005.

2006 - The high mark of 92 has already been awarded this year but will it stand to the end of the year?


(1996 to 2006)

Colin Cook Joseph Psaila Alistair Gillespie
Kim Shrive Sarah Diggens Larysa Bodell
Edmund Labuda    
Cheryl Diggens Stuart Abela Margaret Kelsey
Sarah Diggens Gennaro Fiondella Anna Derricott
Larysa Bodell Edmund Labuda Stefan Bodell
Caroline Mitchell Louise Savill  
Beverley Warwick Sarah Diggens Iain Stewart
Anna Derricott Marthese Busuttil- Cassar  
Stefan Bodell Caroline Mitchell Larysa Bodell
Edmund Labuda Louise Savill Collette Ainscow
Gemma Day Daniel Hinchcliffe Lucy Jackson
Paul Hinchcliffe Nenad Aleksovski Ramon Montebello


As we celebrate 70 years we must look to the future!

The British College of Accordionists offers a unique service - It was set up by Accordionists for Accordionists - An examination system examined by solely specialists of the instrument.

Its educational purpose is in supporting accordionists in becoming:
Technically competent
Quality musicians
Fluent communicators
Future leaders and ambassadors of the instrument.

Whilst, when more examination choice has become available, the numbers entering BCA examinations has remained fairly constant over the last decade, however we are always looking for new examination centres, new initiatives and new horizons.

Masterclasses, Workshops, School Initiatives have been and can be held on a regional basis. So if you have not considered any of these – do it now!

Remember the College is there for all!

We look forward confidently to the next era in the history of the British College of Accordionists – and our next celebration! We hope you will be part of our future!
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