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News from 13th December 1996

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Contributed by Martin Wagner, Intermusik Newspaper

"Breath, Voice, Spirit" was the name of the last "Six-Ears" concerts for New Music in the St. Petri church in Dortmund. Young composers from Dortmund presented their works about this theme and talked about their musical intentions in an introductory talk, presented by Dr. Eva Maria Houben, who stressed the uniqueness of the accordion in the framework of the church.

The accordion dominated this concert, where it was heard performing chamber music alongside and with vocalists, the organ and the contra bass. Maik Hester was the accordionist. Dr. Werner Abegg was deeply impressed by the concert and the extraordinary combination of instruments and emphasised the sensitive yet powerful performance of the players.


Contributed by Joan-Cochran Sommers, UMKC Conservatory

The UMKC "American Family Christmas" concerts were held on 8th December, where the UMKC were performing. The crowd was fantastic! It is always such a rush for performances to have a full house of enthusiastic listeners who applaud really long and loud. There were 620 seats occupied plus standing room only for both performances, so the orchestra was seen by over 1200 people who received the accordion exceptionally well.

The orchestra played two pieces by themselves (18 accordions and 4 percussionists), one of which was a Christmas medley in 1940's big band swing style. Both were received very well. Then they accompanied the 200 voice choir on new arrangements of Silent Night and a finale number of a Christmas medley, "A Joyous Celebration". Between those two selections the orchestra accompanied the choirs on "O Holy Night", featuring a renowned opera tenor, Michael Cousins.


Contributed by Faithe Deffner, President of the American Accordionists' Association

The Central Texas Accordion Association will present Dr. Helmi Harrington in an Accordion Performance Workshop for its members, on 4th January 1997 at the Koenig Lane Christian Church in Austin, Texas. Two three-hour sessions are planned, beginning with an Introduction to accordion history after which Dr. Harrington will review the Palmer-Hughes Accordion Course and introduce a number of the Palmer-Hughes Band Books to her audience, in addition to providing some significant performance tips.

Harrington, an accomplished accordionist in her own right, has distinguished herself in several accordion-related arenas. She is the curator of "A World of Accordions," a museum in Duluth, Minnesota where some 600 instruments of various vintages, styles, and origins are on display. Dr. Harrington is director and chief instructor at Accordion-concertina Repair Technicians' School (ARTS) in Duluth. She provides a hands-on program offering the study courses which she initiated at Red Wing College and subsequently developed into intensive programs at her own facility, dealing with all phases of accordion construction and rehabilitation. Additionally, Harrington operates an accordion school and conducts several accordion orchestras and groups of accordionists in her student body.


Contributed by Lionel Reekie, Music Education Centre

The Air New Zealand Accordion Orchestra, recently returned from a highly successful tour of German speaking Europe, gave its final performances for 1996 in a series of free concerts in different parts of Auckland on the 7th and 8th of December.

These "Music For All" concerts are held twice a year, and this time were held at the Saint Michaels and All Angels Church in West Auckland, Pakuranga Community and Cultural Centre in East Auckland and at the new Bruce Mason Theatre on the North Shore. All venues were very well attended, and the orchestra played to over 1,200 people in the three concerts.

Supporting the Air New Zealand Accordion Orchestra were The North Shore Musicale (conductor, Robin Hill), Pakuranga Accordion Orchestra (conductors Brian Wallis and Wallace Liggett) and West Auckland Accordion Orchestras (conducted by Erica Knights). Solos were performed by well known New Zealand vocalist Wendy Robinson and accordionist Dennis Van Stratten.

The Air New Zealand Accordion Orchestras programme featured a variety of music selected from their extensive concert tour repertoire. From the Fools Garden hit song "Lemon Tree" through to "Brindisi" from Verdi's opera, "La Traviata" the orchestra was thrilled to show local audiences why they have received so many standing ovations in Europe. In addition to the vocal numbers, the orchestra further demonstrated its versatility by performing the fast paced "Dance of the Furies" by Gluck and the original accordion work "Caprice" by well known Auckland composer Gary Daverne.

The orchestra is now taking a Christmas break and will reform soon after the New Year to start preparing for it's 10th International Goodwill concert tour.


Contributed by Vladimir Besfamilnov and Tania Lukic-Marx.

From 11th to 13th January 1997, the Accordion Department in the Warsaw Conservatory will celebrate 35 years of existence. The celebrations will also mark 50 years of Lech Puhnovsky's accordion career. The conservatory will be hosting an International Festival to mark the occasion, with concerts by many internationally recognised guest artists.


Contributed by Victor Romanko and Tatiana Lanchtchikova

Professor Victor Romanko is an Accordion Virtuoso who is a past winner of the International Accordion Competition (Klingenthal, 1983) and the Art of Improvisation (Russia, 1992). He has also won prizes in numerous competitions in the states of the former Soviet Union. After a highly successful concert tour of Sweden, Romanko is currently touring Germany.

He began the tour on 1st December, and has already given four concerts, which were held in the Bad Endbach (where he performed a concert with the Akkordeon-Orchestra Hartenrod), Calw-Altenburg (where he was invited by the Mayor), Siegen-Geisweid and Wilnsdorf.

All the concerts so far have been very successful, with many excellent reviews. For those who haven't been to any of these concerts are welcome to upcoming concerts to be held in various German cities until the 5th of January 1997. See Future Events for further details.


Contributed by Faithe Deffner, President of the American Accordionists' Association

When U.S. Presidents win an election, they celebrate at an Inaugural Ball. One of the most prominent bands at these state balls is Gene Donati's 18-piece group, of which accordionist Carmelo Pino is an often-featured member. Pino also serves as the band's assistant conductor. On 20th January, 1997, it will be the ninth such event at which Pino will be featured on accordion, beginning with the 1965 Lyndon Johnson Inaugural, followed by those of '69 and '73 (Richard Nixon), '77 (Jimmy Carter), '81 and '85 (Ronald Reagan), '89 (George Bush) and '93 when Clinton was elected for his first term. In addition, Carmelo Pino is a frequent entertainer at the White House where he has been called to play at festive occasions during the administrations of several Presidents.


Contributed by Alexander Shpak, President of the Far East Accordion Association and Tatiana Lanchtchtikova

The First International Accordion Video Competition "Cup of the Far East", was held on the 5th December, in Vladivostok, Russia, organised by the Far East Accordion Association.

Viacheslav Semenenko, the Dean of Russian Folk Instruments Department of Far East Institute of Arts, was the head of the jury. Accordionists from Russia, China, Kirgizia and Belarus took part in this new format of competition, where entries were received in the mail, in form of video cassettes. These were played in the Concert Hall of Children Music School, which was at full capacity.

There was no winner in the 15 years and over solo category, but students from the Belarus Academy of Music, G.Vinogradsky and A. Ephimchenko, were awarded a second equal placing. In the up to 15 years old category, the winners were G.Goritsin and A.Lomov (Russia), who shared first place. E. Slavko (Russia) was second and Lu Din Yjuy (China) was third. The winner of the Ensemble section were the trio of Konstantin Esipov, Sergei Strelnikov and Sophia Drel, (Vladivostok, Russia). All participators received a video collection of all the performances.

The Far East Accordion Association will hold the next International Accordion Competition in December 1997, in Vladivostok, Russia and will be devoted to Vladimir Zolotarouv. For further information on this competition, see Future Events.


Contributed by Faithe Deffner, President of the American Accordionists' Association

ATG President Amy Jo Sawyer has announced that the organisations 1997 Accordion Competition and Festival will take place in Grand Rapids, Michigan, from 17th to 20th July. The event will include competition for solo, duet and ensemble accordion performers in a number of styles of music. The ATG will also offer participants concerts of new music and old favourites, as well as workshops dealing with several subjects.


Contributed by Wu Jie

Three accordion students of Sichuan Conservatory have put forward formal applications to St Petersburg Conservatory to study the accordion in Russia. The students are Mr Wang Zhengliang, Mr Wang Minxi and Ms Tan Xiaoxiao. Mr Wang Zhengliang and Ms Tan Xiaoxiao both won competitions in Russia in 1995 and in New Zealand in 1994. Now, they are studying Russian very hard while waiting for admission notices from Russia. If successful, they will study at the St Petersburg Conservatory for 5 years.


Contributed by Faithe Deffner, President of the American Accordionists' Association

A multi-media work written by French sculptor Nicola Dupree titled "The Black Coat," features music composed and performed by accordionist Phoebe Legere. Hailed by critics as an outstanding performance-art theatre piece, the video was shown at the Museum of Modern Art in Cannes, home of the world renowned film festivals.

For her upcoming CD to be released early next year, titled "Phoebe Legere and the 4 Nurses of the Apocalypse" (Random Records), Legere composed all of the music. The first single, "I Want to Take Your Temperature," features Legere as singer and midi-accordionist, triggering samples of screams and doctors' voices recorded in a New York hospital emergency room. She insinuates the accordion into the rock idiom in a manner which assaults the senses, sending musical complacency out the window.


Contributed by Wu Jie

The Directors of the Sichuan Accordion Association are opening a music shop, called "Li Shen", which will sell all kinds of accordions, pianos and other musical instruments. Mr Wu Shouzhi, the Chairman of the Board says that the shop will open on 1st January 1997. The shop manager is an accordion teacher also, Mr. Ma Hui.


Contributed by Faithe Deffner, President of the American Accordionists' Association

A recent show on Public Broadcasting TV traced the accordion's current trends in a variety of music idioms and concluded that the instrument is enjoying new popularity with young people. Among those interviewed and pictured were musicians from an Accordion Weekend Seminar (sponsored by the American Accordionists' Association), some young players exemplifying rock and pop, a number of classical accordionists who emphasised original works written for concert performances, and a builder of Cajun accordions who discussed this special style of music. The show provided an excellent sampling of the accordion's many-faceted role in the music of today.


Contributed by Faithe Deffner, President of the American Accordionists' Association

On 11th December, Weird Al Yankovic and his accordion will be seen on the Disney TV channel in a musical spoof titled "Don't Go Home," which is a take off on the newly released Disney feature, "Going Home." As always, Weird Al will do his own thing in his own inimitable fashion, conveying accordion excitement and performance enthusiasm.


Contributed by Henry Doktorski

Recently I played for two recording sessions with the PSO, which was the first time I had recorded with them. The accordion part was simple enough, straight forward writing by composer John Williams (who wrote all the arrangements for this CD). For those of you who might not know of John Williams, he is the popular composer who wrote the movies scores for Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Superman, among others.

The morning session began with "Scent of a Woman". We ran through the piece once to see if there were any problems, of which there were in my part, as I soon discovered! At one point, the entire orchestra modulated to another key when I had a solo part, which unfortunately, had no key signature change on it.

After lunch we recorded "Il Postini" (The Postman). The accordion part was more prominent in this piece, and it included several beautiful melodies, sustained chords and arpeggio chords.

It was enjoyable listening to the orchestra improve noticeably after each performance, until the last and final take - which was perfect! Every instrument had its job to do (including accordion) and we all fitted together beautifully. It was a real treat for me to play with such a fine orchestra.


Contributed by Wu Jie

During April and May 1997, a festival will be held in the Children's Palace of Bei Cheng District in Taiyuan (a city of the Shanxi province). The organisers are all of the accordion teachers in Taiyuan. During the festival, three competitions will be held, including a childrens accordion solo section. The chairman of the organisation committee is Mr Chen Jianyi, an associate Professor of Keyboard Department of Xian Conservatory.

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