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August 15, 2006


Meeting Notes

The August 8 meeting started with an interactive workshop on improvisation led by Vic Aijala and Lee Paulson. Using some hands-on examples and a helpful handout, they explained how improvisations can be created using scales and their related chords. They also described how musicians use fake books as a basis for creating their own improvisations. They demonstrated how to do this using a variety of tunes -- Tic-Toc Polka, Around the World, Skaters Waltz, Song of the Islands, Volga Boatman, and Melody of Love -- that the audience tried, too. Following the session, musicians and audience enjoyed a full-scale jam session.

Peter DiGiovanni brought a CD of his original composition, "Childhood Reflections," and explained some of the highlights of the award-winning piece. For those of you who missed the announcement, Peter won first place with this piece in the original composition contest at the Balalaika and Domra Association of America convention in Akron, Ohio, last month. Compositions, which were submitted anonymously, had to be written for two to four Russian instruments with chords and be a maximum of three minutes long. They were judged by a panel of four experts.

Peter’s winning piece was performed twice during the convention week, once as a trio and once as a duet. The musicians were Tamara Volskaya, who is regarded as the world's foremost soloist on the four-stringed domra, Anatoly Trofimov, who is a fabulous bayan player and accompanist and laureate of many national and international competitions, and the Washington Balalaika Society’s Andrei Saveliev, who is an outstanding balalaika player and teacher.

Also on the CD was a second composition written by Peter called "Love’s Long Trail." We look forward to arrangements of these pieces that will sound good on the accordion.

Congratulations, Peter!


Next Month

Next month’s meeting is dance night – waltzes, polkas, Latin rhythms, and more. So bring your accordions and come prepared to play something we can dance to!! Please sign up ahead of time, though, with mcherkasky@verizon.net.



Galla-Rini Dies at Age 102

Joan Grauman reports that Anthony Galla-Rini passed away Sunday, July 30, at age 102. The week before he died he was still able to name all of the pieces of music a visitor played for him.

Bulgarian Connection

Michael B. Rubin is trying to get in touch with a WMAS member that a Bulgarian friend of his met and exchanged phone numbers with. If you are that WMAS member, please contact Mike at MBR@nrc.gov ; the Bulgarian friend has lost your number and would like to contact you.

Wilmington Accordion Festival

Order your tickets now! The festival takes place Saturday, September 16, and features afternoon workshops, a dinner and an evening concert. See the calendar at www.washingtonaccordions.org for full details. Dinner reservations are required by August 31.

Accordionist Needed

The bassist/guitarist from Mike Surratt’s band The Continentals will be leaving the group in mid September and Mike has decided to look for an accordionist to fill the slot for all of the band's Polka/German bookings. Mike emphasizes: “I’m not looking for an accordionist to play every single Continental booking, just the ‘polka music’ related work.” Verstehts?


1. Able to read C-Lead Music Charts or already have a grasp of polka/waltz music.

2. Must be willing to travel within a 2-3 hour driving radius of Washington, DC. Examples; Reading, Pennsylvania to Hopewell, Virginia. These are places that the band will be traveling to as well as many local (Washington-Baltimore) performances throughout the end of the year.

3. Must be open-minded enough to wear ethnic German attire and also must own formal clothing for bookings.

For more information about the band/schedule/etc., prospective musicians can go to the band's website: www.continentalsmusic.com

Mike’s contact info:
Mike Surratt
email: mikzcardz@aol.com
phone: (301) 577-6488

Accordion Documentary

Dominic Karcic emailed July 27 about an accordion documentary called Accordion Tribe, directed by Stefan Schwietert in 2004. Phil Fox has ordered the film on DVD, so talk to him if you're interested in seeing it..

Here’s the description:

The appliance that thinks it’s a musical instrument seizes center stage in this rollicking tribute to that most maligned of instruments, the accordion. In 1996 five squeezebox superstars united to form Accordion Tribe, a group devoted to returning their black-sheep instrument to the worldwide recognition it once enjoyed. The tribe’s diverse members --New York avant-gardist Guy Klucevsek, who’s played with John Zorn, Laurie Anderson, and others; Slovenian punk-rocker Bratko Bibic; the classically influenced Finn Maria Kalaniemi; Otto Lechner, a blind, melancholic German self-taught musician; and crazed Swede Lars Hollmer -- wheeze and squeeze their way across Europe during a 2004 tour in search of the past and present of the instrument, visiting the Italian center of accordion production, paying homage to the eight-foot-high “World's Largest Accordion,” and creating new sounds. Accordion Tribe revels in the charms of its underdog instrument, and the talents of the musicians who've pushed it to new heights.

Written by Schwietert. Photographed by Wolfgang Lehner. (87 mins, In English and German with English subtitles, Color, 35mm, From Swiss Films)