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January 16, 2007


Meeting Notes

Here in accordion land, the new year rolled in with a bang. Robert Ford’s performance at the January 9 meeting was a rare treat, and we had a larger-than-usual turnout, with many new faces. It was especially nice to see Frank Busso Jr. in the crowd. Frank now plays accordion with the U.S. Air Force Strings, and we’re hoping to get him and his father and sister, the Busso Trio, to play for our group sometime this spring.

Robert wove a little autobiography into the wonderful music he offered us. At age 10, he moved with his family to La Paz, Bolivia, he told us. Looking around for something to do, he settled on guitar lessons at the nearby Hohner Academy but soon switched to accordion because the guitar strings raised blisters on his fingers. In addition, “the accordion was king” at the academy, he said. His parents bought him a 72-bass black Hohner, and he practiced hours everyday. A few years later he got the 120-bass red Hohner that remains his one and only.

In 1972, the Hohner Academy received an invitation to participate in the 25th World Accordion Championship in Caracas, Venezuela, and 13-year-old Robert was chosen to represent Bolivia in the competition. Two years later he participated in the 27th World Accordion Championship in Stockholm, Sweden.

At age 17, Robert dropped the accordion and began studying electrical engineering. Only about six years ago he picked it up and began playing again. In July 2003 he met Joan Grauman at the American Accordionists’ Association festival in Philadelphia and found out about WMAS. (He also ran into Joe Natoli, an AAA regular, who represented the United States in Caracas in 1972.)

The musical part of the program started with a couple of French tunes arranged by Frank Marocco: “Under Paris Skies” and “Les Mesdemoiselles de Paris.” Next came two polkas – “Beer Barrel” and “Lichtensteiner” – and a medley of tangos: “A Media Luz,” “El Choclo,” and “La Comparsita.” “Tico Tico” and “Ritual Fire Dance” by Manuel de Falla followed, along with Monti’s “Czardas” and Brahms’s “Hungarian Dance No. 5.” For the finale Robert offered us the piece he played in Caracas in 1972: “Poet and Peasant Overture” by Franz von Suppé.

This last piece, especially, left the audience in awe, and no one dared to stand up and play in the open mic we’d planned to fill out the evening. We therefore adjourned for refreshments, while a few people – including Ken Kunec and Merv Conn – played in the din.


Membership Dues

We’re collection 2007 membership dues now. It’s $15 or only pennies per day, as membership chairman Peter DiGiovanni notes.

Meeting Time Change

Starting in March WMAS will be meeting on Sunday afternoons at 4 pm, generally the third Sunday of the month. The new dates will be posted on the Web calendar. The executive committee is very pleased with the new time because it will be easier to book guest artists during meetings, and host out-of-town guests from other clubs. In addition, many of us will be relieved not to have to drive through rush-hour traffic any more. The Sunday meetings will be March 18, April 15, May 20, June 17, July 15, September 16, October 21, November 18, and December 16. We’ll skip August in favor of the American Accordionists’ Association festival and Coupe Mondiale the third week of that month, and the holiday concert will take the place of our December meeting. We’ll rehearse for the concert at the October and November meetings and will schedule some other rehearsals as well.

Next Meeting

The February meeting will be TUESDAY the 13th, and we will celebrate our 4th birthday and Valentine’s Day with an open mic. Please sign up to play your favorite songs for the occasion. Pieces with a love or Mardi Gras theme are especially welcome, but of course you’re welcome to play anything. (Maybe something with a winter or snow theme left over from the January meeting!!) If there’s time, we may also try a play-along tune led by Joan Grauman.

We will also VOTE for executive committee members. The nominating committee has put forward the following slate: Karen Malan-Uribe, president; Joan Grauman, vice-president; Mara Cherkasky, secretary-treasurer; Peter DiGiovanni, membership chairman; Jim Vandelly, communications; and Lee Paulson, committee member. Anyone who would like to nominate him/herself or someone else in place of any of these candidates, please do so ASAP.


It's been a while since we last ordered WMAS t-shirts. Joan is gathering price and style information to present at an upcoming meeting. We will allow people to pre-order items at a discount but also will order extras to sell at meetings and events.

Merv Conn Tribute February 18

Over the past year Joan Grauman and Mara Cherkasky have worked with local documentary maker Jeff Krulik to produce The Legend of Merv Conn. The film will premiere Sunday, February 18, at the AFI Silver Theater on Colesville Road in Silver Spring. Show time is 4:30. Tickets are $5. Please come out and support this project – it would be great to let the world know that the accordion is BIG in the DC area. Bring your accordion and participate in the world’s first 21-accordion salute. Eat birthday cake! View rare historic footage of Glen Echo and the last days of Washington’s streetcars! Hear Dale Wise and the Potomac Ensemble! More information at www.afi.com/silver or www.planetkrulik.com. Click here for a flyer.

Washington Saengerbund Fasching / Mardi Gras Ball

Saturday, February 10, 2007, 7:00 p.m. – midnight

Come join us at our annual festive Costume Prize Masquerade Ball held at a large grand ballroom on Arlington Boulevard (Route 50) in Fairfax, VA.

Enjoy live dance music by two great bands: Steschner's Edelweiss Band and Mike Surratt & the Continentals, playing a wide variety of dance music, including dixieland, waltzes, polkas, swing, sambas, and other Karnival, Latin and ballroom dances. Savor delicious German food specialties, German and domestic beer and wine, soft drinks, and champagne.

Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door. For directions and advance tickets, send your check payable to the Washington Saengerbund, and enclose a stamped self-addressed envelope to Mrs. Eva Brandt, 2860 Hideaway Road, Fairfax, VA 22031 (phone 703-280-1772).

See www.saengerbund.org for more details and to view pictures taken at past events. More information from Eva Brandt, 703-280-1772.

AAMS Festival

American Accordion Musicological Society
20th Annual Festival and Symposium - AAMS 2007 FESTIVAL - March 2-4, 2007
Valley Forge Hilton
251 West DeKalb Pike
Valley Forge, Pennsylvania 19406

More information at www.aamsaccordionfestival.com, or call Joanna Arnold Darrow
at (856) 854-6628.

Registration packets will be mailed starting January 19.

Stas Venglevski and John Simkus in Concert April 22

Please put the date on your calendar. This concert will take place at the Masonic Temple in Silver Spring, the same place as the Frank Marocco concert last year. It starts at 3 pm. See more information.

Accordion History

Dominic Karcic sent the following link to an interesting article on accordion history. Check it out!