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March 11, 2005


Meeting Notes

Those who scraped the ice off their cars and ventured out on a blisteringly cold night March 8 were rewarded with an excellent workshop by Jim Vandelly on bellows techniques. Jim demonstrated his famous triple bellows shake, as well as the double bellows shake and the "ricochet," and provided numerous tips on bellows control.

But anyone looking for magic tricks may have been disappointed. After a one-half hour lesson from a Russian musician on the triple bellows shake years ago, Jim spent the next eight months practicing before he got it down, he said.

Among the audience were a couple of new faces, including a visitor from the Russian embassy.

In the business portion of the meeting, we approved the new WMAS bylaws developed by the executive committee. Phil Fox moved that they be accepted and Lee Paulson seconded the motion. The bylaws will be posted soon on the Web site.

Our membership chairman has been working hard. Paul Przedpelski has created new business cards with directions to the church on the back, pursuant to a suggestion from Betty Chreky. Paul is collecting 2005 membership dues ($15) and plans to send out reminder letters to members who haven't yet paid for the current year. You could help Paul -- and WMAS -- out by paying up promptly. And thank you -- the money helps cover the routine expenses of running our group. Please write your check to WMAS and mail it to Mara Cherkasky, 1801 Park Road, NW, Apt. 8, Washington, DC 20010.

AAMS Festival March 4-6

WMAS was well represented at last weekend's American Accordion Musicological Society festival near Philadelphia. Notably, Peter DiGiovanni, Ellen Sellers and Betty Chreky took home awards.

Peter placed first in the Festival Advanced Adult Solo category with his own arrangement of the "Gypsy Love Waltz" by Franz Lehar. The piece is a sequence of waltz themes, about eight minutes total, taken from Lehar's operetta by the same name. Peter said: "I heard it about a year ago on a CD and fell in love with it. I had no score to follow, not even a piano reduction. I put the melody and chords into a notation program to give to the judge to refer to as a roadmap. Fortunately, he wasn't looking for note-perfect sight-reading and just listened to what I was playing. It's not flashy, but it has nice chord changes, bass patterns and gorgeous melodies, and opportunities for expressive playing. I honestly didn't think it was technically difficult enough to place, let alone win -- I figured others at the advanced level would be playing Czardas and other technically difficult pieces." There were about six other entrants in the category.

Ellen played "Second Hungarian Rhapsody" by Liszt from P&H Book 4 and took second in her Open Adult Solo Level A3 (intermediate) category. She had seven competitors. Number one played Two Guitars; number three played Roman Overture. "I made lots of mistakes but KEPT GOING!" she said.

Betty came in third in Intermediate Adult Ethnic Solo, playing "Star of the County Down." She competed against eight other accordionists. The person who placed first played a German piece called Waltz Continental.

In addition, Jim Vandelly performed in the Sunday afternoon concert, and Dan and Joan Grauman sold their SqueezinArt wares. Lee and Ron, Mara, and Karen and Luis also attended. Karen said: "I was so proud to wear my WMAS T-shirt." Everybody had a wonderful time.

Upcoming Events

Bayan Concert

This Sunday, March 13th, Russian bayanist Viacheslav Semionov will perform at a house concert in Potomac, Maryland. Admission is $20, and seats are limited. For more information, please respond to this email (or you can try contacting Dan or Joan Grauman at (301) 279-8716 or danjgrauman@comcast.net, but they're out of town until Sunday). You can pay the Graumans at the door.

The word bayan was taken after the name of the ninth/tenth-century poet, artist and musician (The Bayan) who first appeared in a troubadour poem, The Story of the Igoreve Regiment. At first the name was used to refer to the ancestor of the modern bayan, the Russian harmonica. The instrument developed with the addition of bellows, register stops, a left-hand manual which later became standardized to include both stradella and free-bass (convertor), and a right-hand manual which increased the number of button rows from three to five.

Thanks to Wayne Kahn for the bayan research. Wayne took the concert announcement off a WMAS update, added this information, and included the announcement in his own weekly email newsletter of music listings throughout the area. If you would like to subscribe to that very useful resource, email Wayne at
rtonrhythm@boo.net or check out his web sites, http://www.rightonrhythm.com and

AAA Festival in July

The American Accordionists' Association has sent out its festival packets for this year's event in Dearborn, Michigan, July 6-10th. Our own Joan and Stella will be playing during Thursday's luncheon, and they would love to see some of us in the audience. The festival is always a lot of fun and a great place to hear some good music and meet other accordionists. All the festival information, and more, has been posted to AAA's Web site, http://www.ameraccord.com.

4th of July Parade in Fairfax

Joyce Palmer and Lee Poulson have received an invitation for WMAS to participate in the Fairfax Fourth of July parade. Lee is checking into the details of the parade and will keep us posted. WMAS and Maryland Accordion Club members have played in the Catonsville Fourth of July parade the past two years.

WMAS Web Site Disappearing Act

You may have noticed that our Web site has been down since the first of the month. The reasons are complicated and beyond our control, but the site should be back up soon -- on a new server. Sorry about any inconvenience, but technology is like that sometimes. Also, once it's up, the site may have some bugs. Please be sure to report these to the webmaster so we can fix them.

April & May WMAS Meetings

Next month, Peter DiGiovanni will present part 2 of his excellent "playing by ear" workshop. Then, in May we will hold our second annual spring concert, so please think about what you would like to play. We will limit each person to two short pieces or one longer one. Please send your selections to Karen or Mara.

News on Dale

One last thing: Dale Wise will be undergoing prostate surgery the week of March 21, and then will be out of commission for several weeks. He'll be happy to hear from you; his address is 10161 Palmer Drive, Oakton, VA 22124 or accordionplus@aol.com.