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July 19, 2004


Meeting Notes

Because we didn't have a workshop scheduled for the July 13 meeting, we had the luxury of sitting back and listening to two of our members demonstrate some of the range of their playing. Peter DiGiovanni's and Wendy Morrison's performances were thoroughly enjoyable, and we still had time afterwards to practice for the December concert.

Peter started with "Gypsy Love" by Franz Lehar (who also wrote "The Merry Widow"). This piece, which Peter learned from a CD, "is very tuneful and the harmonies are straightforward, for the most part, so I was able to pick up most of it pretty quickly," he said. "But even after I had the tune in my head, there were some transitions and chords that required repeated listening and some trial and error to figure out. Then I had to find the appropriate bass treatment and fingering to get the chords I wanted." In his workshop at the September WMAS meeting, Peter will describe some of the mental processes he undergoes in learning by ear.

The second tune was "The Arpeggio Polka," from a book of compositions by Helene Criscio (polkas, waltzes, mazurkas, etc.). The book, which Peter recommends "without reservation," is available at the House of Musical Traditions in Takoma Park.

The final piece in this set was "The Florentiner March," by Julius Fucik. Peter learned it mostly from a CD, "but some of the countermelodies that added greatly to the pleasure ... were tough to hear, so I ordered the miniscore and put some notes on paper." He said he played enough of the piece at the meeting to give the audience a feel for it. "Some of the sounds I want to create require improved playing skills and lots of trial and error (melodies in the bass, bellows shakes, rapidly repeating the same 16th notes, etc.), which is all part of the fun. With the help of the miniscore, I also constructed a second accordion part (right hand only) and hope to play a duet in the future," Peter said.

Wendy opened with a dance tune from Quebec, "Reel a Beatrice," that she learned from a French-Canadian one-row button accordion player many years ago. While playing, Wendy showed how the accordionists and fiddlers in Quebec provide percussion and keep time, seated, by clogging (foot-tapping/dancing) on a wooden floor, wearing hard-soled shoes. She was wearing sandals, and the floor was linoleum, "but I think [the audience] got the general idea," she said. "I hadn't done this technique in a long time, so I started slowly with the foot tapping, then I sped the tune up to normal dance tempo and stopped clogging."

Wendy's second piece was a traditional Jewish song in waltz time whose lyrics consisted of a series of biblical quotes about the Patriarch Jacob. "Only I didn't sing, because I can play much better than I can sing," she said.

The final piece was a long medley of klezmer tunes that Wendy's band Klezcentricity has been working on: a Khosidl, a march, and two Bulgar-Freylakhs, all learned from a book of tunes collected by a Moldavian clarinetist.

We look forward to Wendy's workshop in October.

Concert Rehearsal

The Holiday Concert is scheduled for December 12. If you were in the concert last year, you should have the music for most of the songs we will use this year:

Parade of the Wooden Soldiers
Up on the Housetop
Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
How Brightly Shines the Morning Star
Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Raindeer

In addition, Wendy has provided the music for a Hanukkah song, "Hanerot Halalu" (These lights that
we kindle).


Again in August we do not have a formal workshop scheduled, so we're looking for a couple of people to perform at the meeting on the 10th. Also, it's really nice if someone plays while we set up, to get us in the mood. Contact Karen at wmas2002@cox.net if you'd like to volunteer. (Mike Surratt has volunteered.)

(UPDATED) Joan Grauman would like to lead a small teaching/playing accordion band using her favorite advanced beginner/intermediate pieces that she has played over the years. She says she has a lot of sheet music and is in the process now of writing out some things to use in this group. Examples: a gorgeous arrangement of Greensleeves, El Choclo, Lara's Theme, Gold and Silver Waltz, a Viennese waltz medley, Edelweiss, a GREAT Irish waltz, "Star of the County Down" that her friend wrote an incredible second part for (download the music from the Miscellaneous page), some Italian pieces, Ashokan, and Lonely Accordion. Almost all of these are dance pieces, but also good concert pieces. Contact Joan for details at (301)279-8716 or squznart@erols.com.

Several of our members attended the American Accordionists' Association festival in Quincy, Mass., last week, and one member even ended up on the front page of the Boston Globe. We'll have a copy of the photo and article at the August meeting. (On the Globe's web site, her head was cropped out!)

Lots of events coming up …

Concerts this Thursday, July 22, are by the Eastern European group Harmonia at Nottaway Park in Vienna, and by the American Balalaika Symphony at Strathmore Hall in Bethesda.

Wednesday, July 28, Russikye Musikanti is at Lee District Park in Springfield, Va.

Saturday, August 14, is the picnic at Dale and DeAnn Wise's place in Burr Hill, Va., from 10:30 am to 5 pm. You should have received the details in a separate email. Please respond to Dale at accordionplus@aol.com as to whether you're attending. Hamburgers, hotdogs and beverages will be supplied, but otherwise it's potluck. Also bring your accordion and music stand.

Saturday, August 28, Brave Combo is playing at Blob's in Jessup, Md. Contact Dave Ball at PolkaDave@msn.com if you'd like to join the WMAS group going up there. He'll take care of the reservation.

September 2 is the season's first Brat Night at the Del Ray Dreamery on Mount Vernon Avenue in Alexandria. Paul Przedpelski provides the music, but the Dreamery has offered to let WMAS members play on an open-mike basis during Paul's breaks. Contact him at accordion@verizon.net if you'd like to sign up. Brat Nights will continue on the first Thursday of the month through April, from 6 to 9 pm.

A September 28 concert in Danville, Va., featuring Tony Lovello, aka the Liberace of the Accordion, will benefit the Danville Life Saving Crew.

Details on these events are on the calendar.


See you soon!