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April 27, 2012


Meeting Notes

The April 15 meeting started on a festive note, with strolling accordionist Pat Racioppa offering folks a musical greeting as they arrived. After the announcements we sang “Happy Birthday” to Rosa Ford’s friend Suzanne Strump and to Bob Juszczyk.

We were excited to welcome back Russkiye Musikanti, an outreach group of the Washington Balalaika Society that first performed for us a few years ago. Decked out in gold-trimmed costumes of red, green, and/or black, the nine musicians played a number of pieces, including several that were composed or arranged by our own very talented president, Peter DiGiovanni, the group’s accordionist. The program and member names are listed below, but we would like to note in particular that Peter wrote “Welcome Sasha” for a Balalaika and Domra Association convention a few years ago to welcome Russian musician Sasha Tsygankov, whom Peter called “arguably the world’s best domra player.” “Prisla bom Pomlad” is Peter’s arrangement of a Slovenian waltz that he heard on a Don Lipovac album. “Sitting on a Rock” and “Ah Ti Bereza” are two pieces based on Russian folk melodies and arranged for prima balalaika solo. “Amerikanskiy March,” first performed in Carnegie Hall, was written by Vasiliy Andreev, the man who lifted the balalaika from its humble peasant roots to the symphony orchestra. “Song of the Volga Boatman” featured Dick Hulan on kontrabass balalaika, a huge, gorgeous instrument that Dick built himself.

After the concert, Russkiye Musikanti led about a dozen WMAS members in a group play-along of several Russian waltzes, folk songs, and Gypsy songs. By the end of the session, all were both energized and satiated. The lead sheets will come in handy for the next time we play these songs, so please save them.


Next Month

The May 20 meeting will be our annual spring member concert, and this year we are hoping to feature duets – following up on our January duet workshop -- but everyone is welcome to perform. Please sign up, though, by replying to this email, and please remember the five-minute rule. We look forward to seeing you at 4 pm on Sunday, May 20, at Sleepy Hollow United Methodist Church in Falls Church, VA. Please check www.washingtonaccordions.org for directions and more information.


Update on Merv Conn Way

Our contact at United Therapeutics, the organization that is building “Merv Conn Way” adjacent to their new building in Silver Spring, tells us that they are still working on easements, agreements and design. We hope to put together a group to play a “21-Accordion Salute” -- actually a group rendition of Merv’s signature piece, “You Made Me Love You” -- at the opening ceremonies, so we’ll be keeping you posted.

If this announcement is news to you, please check the February 2012 update.


American Accordionists’ Association Festival

Please register soon for the AAA Festival – scheduled for July 11-15 in Baltimore -- so that Mary Tokarski and Joan Grauman can organize the seating for the orchestra. You can’t be included unless you’re registered; forms are available online at www.ameraccord.com. It does not cost extra to participate in the orchestra, but you need to note on your form that you would like to participate.

To get the special room rate, you’ll need to call the Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel directly, at 410-752-1100, and say that you’re with the American Accordionists’ Association. If they say that there are no more rooms available at that rate, please let Joan know (joangrauman@verizon.net) and she will contact the hotel about increasing the number of rooms for participants.

For more information about the festival, please visit http://ameraccord.com/festival.html.


From Sue Smith:

In January Publishers Weekly reviewed Squeeze This! A Cultural History of the Accordion by Marion Jacobson, University of Illinois. www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-252-03675-0

There is a FaceBook page at Squeeze This! A Cultural History of the Accordion. It's easier to type in the name in the Search box than the full address.


From Joan Grauman:

We just received news that Frank Petrilli was featured on Mad Men the other night. He is playing the accordion in a restaurant scene. In early September, Frank cut his hair, got out his dad’s 1960s-era accordion, and spent the day on the set creating this short scene. We have been waiting since September to see this, then they played it early – so we missed it! Grrrrr. Linda Warren, who saw it and alerted Frank Petrilli (Seriously! He didn’t know it was playing last night either!), said that it will be aired again this season. We will let all of you know when we hear the date.

Donna Massey had been periodically giving accordion lessons to Christine Hendricks who had “played” the accordion in a Mad Men episode a while back. Christine asked Donna who she would recommend for a scene in an upcoming episode. They needed an Italian-looking man, late 40s-ish, who plays very well: Frank Petrilli!

You will see Frank for a moment in this scene online. He played “Santa Lucia,” but you won’t hear it online.

http://www.amctv.com/mad-men/videos/inside-episode-504-mad-men-mystery-date (shortly after 4:35 on the video)

Thank you, Frank Petrilli and Eddie Monteiro, for bringing some positive press to the accordion in the US! As you all know, Eddie is playing the accordion in “Evita” which is playing on Broadway through January, 2013. You can watch Frank and Eddie jamming afterhours at last year’s AAA Festival on YouTube (please cut and paste this link into your YouTube browser): http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=frank+petrilli+and+eddie+monteiro&oq=frank+petrilli+and+eddie+monteiro&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&gs_nf=1&gs_l=youtube.3...7493.17238.0.18950.



Russkiye Musikanti – April 15 Program

Daydreams Waltz – Jan Bohm, soloist
Letka Enka
Nad Polyami – Anya Titova, soprano
Russian Intermezzo **
Prisla bom Pomlad **
Welcome Sasha *
Sitting on a Rock / Ah ti bereza– Jan Bohm, soloist
Happy Gypsy *
Tsigan and Zaznobila– Anya Titova, soprano
Childhood Reflections *
Amerikanskiy March
Shostakovich Romance – Zhenya Tochenaya, soloist
Song of the Volga Boatman – Dick Hulan, soloist
Song of Restless Youth
Inner Peace *
Moldovenyaska – Zhenya Tochenaya, soloist
Tula Samovar

* Original composition by Peter DiGiovanni
** Arranged by Peter DiGiovanni

Russkiye Musikanti Performers on April 15

Jan Bohm – prima balalaika
Anya Titova – sekunda balalaika
Dick Hulan – kontrabass balalaika
Cindy Stroup – prima domra
Kathy Hulan – prima domra
Penny Weissman – prima domra
Zhenya Tochenaya – tenor domra
Peter DiGiovanni – accordion
Jim Coffey – percussion