2009 NAA Convention News: by Laura Niland
2009 National Accordion Association Convention was held in Richardson,
Texas on March 11-15. The action-packed weekend featured many hours
of great accordion music.
Accordion Convention 2009 - An Accordionist's Dream
by Julianne Hyde
stroll through the Hyatt's lobby might find one hearing the quiet hum
of the buffer meticulously glossing the floor to its mirrored sheen or
the vacuum's whirr as it collects the carpet remains of the day. But not
this weekend. During the recent National Accordion Association convention,
the lavish hotel decorum was brought to life by sweet melodies from accordionists
sharing their hearts, souls, and love for this versatile instrument. No
matter the hour, with every turned corner, the senses were caressed with
a variety of musical styles, spoken as only an accordion can.
Throughout the three-day event, this truly international group of attendees were offered opportunities to attend workshops, experience performances from those "great and small" and "professional and novice", and peruse the 4th floor, which had been transformed into a demonstration center where Roland showcased their latest and greatest electronic creations for the accordion world among other dealers, collectors and hobbyist.
Workshops covered a wide range from exploring the accordion's multicultural performance integration to practical/useful educational sessions. At the same time, throughout each day/evening, one could attend special performances. Thursday night's highlight was the Accordion Bandstand, which provided both "novice" and "more experienced" accordionists an opportunity to perform beautifully arranged pieces, under the direction of Dee Langley, Cajun musicians and the accordion group Infusion, that not only entertained the audience, but created an experience they will certainly remember for a very long time.
Friday afternoon, Gene Van and Vince Del Prete incorporated their jazz/Broadway blend with a stellar performance that completely "wowed" the audience. This led into a fun-filled Friday night choice between the "Polka Fest" and the "Circle of Champions". The former was jam-packed with renowned talent that kept the dance floor filled, while the Circle of Champions showcased a multiplicity of talents.
From the truly novice button accordion student to the phenomenal showmanship of Mark Kenneth and Dr. Mario Pedone, this event provided the audience with the "sophistication of performance" combined with a spattering of comic relief, (not to mention their incredible solo/duet performances), from our "hosts" Jessica Faltot and Becky Ratliff, with a little help from their Indiana friends.
The excitement continued to build and one could feel the camaraderie and fellowship strengthen as the days passed. By Saturday, it was as though the group had known each other for years. They gathered in the afternoon for the "youngsters" of Dick Albreski Oklahoma City - whose performance touched hearts and renewed the "thrill" seeing these "up-and-comers".
Culminating the festivities was Saturday's grand event, "Touch of Class". Everyone gathered in eager anticipation to hear such greats as Mary Tokarski, Joe Natoli, 2Accordions, Paul Pasquali on the Concerto with Peter Clegg Tenor and Sauce Piquante. Rounding out the evening was a special performance from Indiana's Gene Van Accordion Orchestra, whose unique style brought the audience to their feet and left them wanting much more.
While we focused on the vast array of entertainment that satiated our musical appetite, one cannot forget the fabulous hospitality of the Hyatt Hotel whose immaculate surroundings were truly enhanced by their obvious customer satisfaction focus. The expansive breakfast buffet is second to none, and the catered meals brought typical dinner conversation to a quiet murmur right through to the delectable desserts.
Unfortunately all good things must come to an end, and early Sunday morning the halls once filled with Cajun to Classical were transformed back into a serene convention center. While the musical frivolities were replaced with conversation among good friends/new acquaintances preparing their leave, it didn't take long to realize that their heartfelt, "See you next year!" would bring this special group of people back for yet another National Accordion Association adventure! On a personal note I'd like to extend kudo's to the entire NAA team who made my first experience a memorable and rewarding experience.
today, With Youth - Here Tomorrow!
by Dick Albreski
the need for youth participation in the National Accordion Association
(NAA) family of Presenters, NAA President Norman Seaton and the Governing
Board have instituted programs to encourage that level of experience to
participate. Beginning in 2008, the NAA has offered financial assistance
based on donations along with free band music to the very young and up
to the age of nineteen.
The March 2009 concert was another positive step in the right direction with seven accordionists performing a flawless program to an appreciative audience. The 'Rising Stars' who performed in this years event were Jairon Baquero, Jonathan Conner, Micaiah Elliott, Flora Hollifield, Roxanne Sidebottom, Bria and Maddie Smith.
At this point in time, 'fun and education', not competition is the motivation. For the past 2 years, NAA member, Dick Albreski has arranged the music and conducted the Youth band. Realizing the limited event practice time, the arrangements are intended to meet all ages with less playing stress and more musical satisfaction. As a reward for all efforts, the Youth concert and solo performances are gifts to the parents, family, friends and NAA guests.