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May 27, 2013


Meeting Notes

If you attended the May 19 meeting, you know you witnessed something rare. Lou Coppola, retired Air Force accordionist, current member of the Stereo Strings, and musician extraordinaire, performed for us. Although as a young man Lou won the American Accordionists’ Association Virtuoso championship four years in a row (1953 through 1956), once he joined the Air Force in 1957 he stopped playing solo.

“Why am I here? To get Joan off my back,” Lou said, only half-joking. Joan Grauman had been badgering Lou for years to play for our club, and for just as many years Lou had talked about how he hated playing solo. But he finally agreed, and he pulled it off perfectly. As Joan said, “Lou played each piece as if it were his all-time favorite piece of music.”

More about Lou: he’s from Bridgeport, Connecticut, began competing at age 13, and was the first person to represent the United States in a world contest. As an Air Force musician he performed for nine presidents. On one memorable occasion, in 1962, the US Air Force Strolling Strings performed for their usual seven minutes during the dessert portion of a state dinner. Afterwards they lined the halls between the White House dining room and the East Room to serenade the guests as they passed from one to the other. Isaac Stern and Leonard Bernstein were on the program on this particular evening, and after their concert, Jackie Kennedy invited Lou, Leonard Bernstein, and Isaac Stern and his wife upstairs to the Kennedys’ private quarters to play more music. Lou remembered that she asked them to play quietly because Caroline was sleeping. They ended up playing until 1:30 am.

Lou and Rose-Marie Coppola’s son John was born on November 23, 1963 (the day after President Kennedy was assassinated, for those of you who are too young to have the date seared into your memory), hence his name.

On display at the meeting was a portion of Joan Grauman’s American Accordionist’s Association archival display, including pictures of Lou. One framed photograph, showing Lou, Leonard Bernstein, and Isaac Stern, was taken by Jackie Kennedy.

Lou’s solo pieces:
Accordiana (Charles Magnante)
Polonaise Militaire (Chopin)
Dizzy Fingers (Zez Confrey)
Andalucia (Ernesto Lecuona), with John Coppola on upright bass
Variations on the Carnival of Venice, with John Coppola on upright bass
Czardas (Monti)

Lou was joined in the second half of his concert by the other members of the Stereo Strings: Stephanie Myers and David Swanson on violin, plus John Coppola on upright bass.

The Stereo Strings played:
Moon River (Henry Mancini)
West Side Story Medley (I Feel Pretty, Maria, and Tonight, Tonight)
Arrivederci Roma (Renato Rascel)
Granada (Agustin Lara)
Brazil (Ary Barroso)

Altogether, the concert was simply exquisite.

But there were more treats in store: Filip Novakovic performed for us on bayan during the refreshment break. Filip, a Serbian exchange student who has spent this past academic year with the Powell family in Boonsboro, Maryland, will be heading home soon, so it was great he could come to at least one of our meetings. Joan Grauman put the Powells in touch with Jim Vandelly, who loaned Filip a bayan a few months ago. The instrument has allowed the talented Filip to perform for several events in the Maryland and Virginia areas. Thank you, Jim!

The afternoon started out wonderfully as well, with Steve Albertini performing as folks arrived for the meeting.

Thanks to all the musicians who made our May meeting such a fabulous success! What a day!

By the way, if you would like to hear more of the Stereo Strings, they play during Sunday brunch at Pienza’s in the Gaylord Hotel, National Harbor. In addition, Joan will be posting videos of Lou performing Dizzy Fingers and the Stereo Strings playing Granada and Brazil, along with a short article, on AccordionUSA.com News in June.


Next Meeting

The next WMAS meeting will be our Spring Concert, on Sunday, June 16, 2013. Because this year is the 75th anniversary of the American Accordionists’ Association and our meeting is taking place on Fathers’ Day, the concert theme will be Founders and Fathers. So please – if possible – choose a selection by one of the AAA founders (Magnante, Frosini, Deiro, etc.) or a song about fathers or fatherhood. Please sign up to play.

As usual, the meeting will start at 4 pm, but greeters Yimeng Huang and Mara Cherkasky will start about 3:45. The place is as usual: Sleepy Hollow United Methodist Church, 3435 Sleepy Hollow Road, Falls Church, Virginia.



An Accordion! What Is That?, a children’s book by Karen Malan-Uribe with illustrations by Joan Grauman and a CD featuring Mary Tokarski, will come out as an e-book in June. More information will be forthcoming. Visit this website: www.accordionbee.com.

August 14-18 is the American Accordionists’ Association festival in New York City. Register and find more information at www.ameraccord.com.

Paul Aebersold’s annual Boatloads of Accordions Party will take place on Saturday, June 8, on his houseboat moored in the Gangplank Marina in Southwest Washington.