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05-Aug-2022

ATG 80 Member Festival Orchestra - USA

ATG orchestra
ATG orchestraThe Festival Orchestra at the Accordionists & Teachers Guild, International (ATG) annual gathering is always a highlight of the convention. This year, while celebrating their 80th Festival, the ATG presented a spectacular 80 piece accordion orchestra under the baton of world renowned conductor, Joan Cochran Sommers.

Similar to how Symphony Orchestras function, each musician received the music in advance in order to prepare for the concert and three rehearsals were held at the festival to put the orchestra together and add timpani and percussion.

Concert Master for the orchestra was Kevin Friedrich, a past ATG President and current Ambassador to the Confédération Internationale des Accordéonistes (CIA) and along with musicians from as far afield as Italy (CIA President - Mirco Patarini), Austria (First Vice President of the Harmonika Verband Österreichs - HVÖ - Dr. Herbert Scheibenreif,) and throughout the United States and Canada, the magnificent concert drew accolades and a standing ovation from the audience, many of whom had never heard an accordion orchestra before.

The program for the 2022 performance held at the state of the art Armerding Concert Hall at Wheaton College in Chicago included Themes from Lawrence of Arabia by Maurice Jarre (arr. Palmer & Hughes), Paragon March by ATG Founder and President Emeritus Anthony Galla-Rini, Finlandia, Op. 26. No. 7 by Jean Sibelius (arr. Galla-Rini), Epilogue from The Comedians, Op. 26 by Dmitri Kabalevsky (arr. Galla-Rini), The Lord of the Dance by Roman Padraig Hardiman (arr. H. G. Kölz) and Medley from The Sound of Music by Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein (arr. Willard A. Palmer).

Conductor Joan Cochran Sommers is a three time Past President of the Accordionists & Teachers Guild, International (ATG). After serving many years as Vice President of the Executive Committee and 12 years as Chairman of the Music Committee of the Confédération Internationale des Accordéonistes (CIA), in honor of her many decades of service, Joan was awarded lifetime Honorary Membership of the CIA upon her retirement from office.

She earned the right to represent the USA in the Coupe Mondiale in both 1955 and 1956, which undoubtedly developed her interest in worldwide accordion activities. Joan has since been honored numerous times by both National and International accordion organizations, as well as other musical organizations for her ongoing dedication and contributions to the field of music. See picture below.

Joan founded the accordion degree program at the Conservatory of Music at the University of Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC Accordion Orchestra) in 1961. Over many decades, she taught and inspired a countless number of students from around the United States and abroad to achieve musical excellence as they studied for their Bachelor, Masters and Doctorate degrees in Accordion Performance. Upon her retirement from UMKC as a full-time Professor and Assistant Dean in the Conservatory of Music, Joan Cochran Sommers was awarded Professor Emerita status.

Plans are already underway for the next Festival Orchestra which will be held in the Chicago area in July of 2023. For more information, please visit ATG
ATG Joan
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