2004 in Review
The 64th Annual Competition and Festival was held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin from July 21-25, 2004 and featured a world class variety of guest artists (pictured left Jérôme Richard and Art Van Damme) performing to capacity audiences during a week that the Mayor Tom Barrett had officially declared "Accordion Week."

The festival, which featured attendees from as far afield as Ireland, Canada, Sweden, Austria, France, Russia and all around the USA opened with a newly established Presidential welcome concert and Wine and Cheese evening featuring local Wisconsin musicians and guests offering a local musical flavor and hospitality.

The festival presented world class artists in five concerts, affording attendees the opportunity to hear the finest accordionists in a variety of styles. The 2002 CIA double winner (Coupe Mondiale and International Competition for Piano Accordion) Alexander Poeluev's polished technical ability and musical style earned him five standing ovations as he presented music from Bach, Liszt and others including those from his native Russia composed his well known teacher Viatcheslav Semionov.

Jérôme Richard from France, the only other double CIA competition winner (Coupe Mondiale and Virtuoso Entertainment) also received many standing ovations for his dazzling USA debut performance, which highlighted his flawless and effortless technical ability with his popular and appealing program. Jérôme was quite surprised that all 75 CD's he brought with him to sell were snapped up instantly, leaving people scrambling for mail and Internet orders.

The other featured artist was American Jazz artist Art Van Damme, who's reputation and respect earned him a standing ovation as he walked to the stage. Art was thrilled that he received a standing ovation without even playing a single note! Art's show also brought many standing ovations as the audience was treated to his legendary style that has identified the accordion as a recognized jazz instrument.

Also performing were several orchestras including The Jarosh Accordion Ensemble from Calgary, Canada (under the direction of Maureen Jarosh), the 35 member K&S Accordion Orchestra from Ireland (pictured below under the direction of Gerry Kelly) and the UMKC Community Accordion Orchestra from Kansas City under the direction of Joan C. Sommers. Each presented polished and varied programs.

Together, along with other accordionists attending the convention, they formed the 2004 Festival Orchestra, an 85 strong group under the direction of Joan C. Sommers which was featured at the Peck Pavilion in downtown Milwaukee during an outdoor concert as well as at the Gala Concert and Banquet during the festival.

Members of the Festival Orchestra are pictured here playing under the direction of Frank Busso, prior to the Peck Pavillion Concert.

2004 ATG Festival Orchestra
Joan C. Sommers - Conductor

2004 Concert Program

Paragon March (Official ATG March)
by Anthony Galla-Rini

Welcome to Venice
by Hans-Gunther Kolz

In the Hall of the Mountain King - "Peer Gynt Suite I, Op. 46"
by Edvard Grieg

Three Symphonic Dances
by Aram Khachaturian
1. Waltz from "Masquerade Suite"
2. Dance of the Rosemaidens from "Gayane Ballet"
3. Lesginka from "Gayane Ballet"

by Hans-Gunther Kolz & Martin Kopf

God Bless America
by Irving Berlin
Christine Jarquio, Vocal Soloist

Other artists included a young Swedish accordionist Daniel Anderson, the Busso Trio from Staten Island, New York (Frank Busso Sr., Frank Busso Jr., and Christina Busso) and a variety of American based artists including: Dee Langley and Greg Dagoumas, Lidia Kaminska, Joanna and Stanley Darrow, Milwaukee Accordion Club Ensemble, ATG President Stas Venglevski, John Simkus, the ATG Board of Directors Ensemble, Mikhail Litvin, Tony Gorenc, Amy Jo Sawyer, Kavkas and the Riverwest Accordion Club.

In addition to the workshops given by Betty Jo Simon (Music of Anthony Galla-Rini), Dr. Helmi Harrington (Accordion History), Herbert Scheibenreif (the Accordion Concerto), Gerry Kelly (Irish Accordion Music), and Art Van Damme (the Jazz Scene.)

The festival also offered competitions for all ages and levels, exhibits and a trade show area, a daily morning breakfast concert and the display from the World of Accordions Museum (pictured left is the player accordion) from Superior, Wisonsin.

The ATG inducted its 2nd and 3rd members into its International Accordion Hall of Fame, with Myron Floren and Joan C. Sommers receiving these prestigious awards which were presented by ATG President Stas Venglevski.

In the festival competitions, the K&S Accordion Orchestra from Ireland (under the direction of Gerry Kelly) won the Junior Virtuoso Orchestra Competition, the Jarosh Accordion Orchestra (under the direction of Maureen Jarosh) won the Open Virtuoso Orchestra and Benjamin Lang (student of Dr. Helmi Harrington) won the US Pre-Junior Virtuoso Competition.

The 2004 festival was organized by Faithe Deffner and ATG Festival Committee members Shirley Barry, Dee Langley, Kevin Friedrich and ATG President Stas Venglevski.

Pictures of Alexander, Jerome, Festival Orchestra and Joan Sommers/Stas Venglevski courtesy of Erol Reyal, Milwaukee.

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