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October 25, 2009


Meeting Notes

First off, if you are playing in the holiday concert orchestra, please, please, please come to the November 1 rehearsal at Sleepy Hollow United Methodist (6:45 pm). During this rehearsal Joan will give us the “road map” for each piece, set dynamics, and correct rhythmic errors. Please attend so we don’t have to waste time going through this again at subsequent rehearsals.

Second: we will NOT be meeting at Sleepy Hollow United Methodist Church for our November 15 meeting because the church has something else going on in the hall that day. Instead we will meet at the VFW Post at 7118 Shreve Road, Falls Church, VA, just off Route 7. (The hall is ¼ mile from exit 66A off Route 66: head back into Falls Church, away from Tyson’s Corner, and take a right onto Shreve Road at the McDonald’s.) This will be a fun program. Lee Paulson & Vic Aijala will start us off with one piece (or maybe two?), and then Jim Vandelly will offer us a short concert. Afterwards we will rehearse for the holiday concert. Don’t miss it!

Now, back to our October 18 meeting, our Oktoberfest celebration. We actually had some real Germans in attendance, friends of Paul Aebersold. However, they were from Berlin, which does not celebrate Oktoberfest, so this was their first!! Alas we did not have any beer, and hardly any dancing. What we did have, though, was delicious sausages, sauerkraut, potato pancakes, and other treats -- and accordions, of course. Someone remarked afterwards that maybe we should hold our next Oktoberfest at a VFW hall so we can have beer, which might result in more dancing. We may look into that. In any case we’ll be testing out a VFW hall in November.

Ken Kunec was our emcee – and full of tricks as usual. Several people wore Bavarian outfits, or some semblance of Bavarian, and one even wore what looked like leprechaun headgear. Photos will be posted on the web site, so no names need be mentioned here. A number of WMAS members played polkas, waltzes, and other dance numbers, but the floor remained empty until finally a few couples were inspired by Mary Smith and Her Random Band on “Schneewalzer.” Once the ice was broken many people joined in on the chicken dance, which followed.

Thanks to everyone who offered music and brought food. A special thanks to Lee and Ron for the decorations, and to Joan and Dan, Karen and Luis for setting up the room.

* * * * * * * *

Yimeng Huang brought a friend to the Oktoberfest, which in itself is hardly extraordinary. However, the story of their friendship is so amazing that we asked her to share it with the group. Here it is:

The Accordion – A Reconnection to Younger Days

A couple of years ago when I started playing the accordion again after a hiatus of 30-some years, I thought I was unique. But looking around our accordion club, I saw that half of the members have had a similar experience, picking up the accordion again after raising a family or pursuing a career. I joined the Washington Metropolitan Accordion Society in 2007 and was enchanted by the friendly atmosphere and just the sight of so many accordions in the same room. There one day I met a fellow Chinese accordionist, Yimin Zhuang, and we soon realized that we both had studied at Ren Min University in Bejing in the 1970s. What a coincidence!! Well, that’s not even half of the surprise.

Yimin mentioned a small group of Chinese accordionists who get together regularly to play music. He asked if I’d like to join them. Of course I would. I asked if there were any women in the group. He said, yes, there was one. Months later, I was delighted to go to their meeting one Friday evening, in the basement of one member’s house in Herndon, VA. I was eager to meet my potential, future accordion “girl friend.” Then she arrived; I heard her talking as she walked down the stairs. Oh my god, that was unmistakably the voice of my best friend in high school! Impossible! I just had to see her face to confirm. Finally, she came into full view, and I shouted out “Ren Ling!!” That startled her. She turned toward me with a “huh??” expression on her face. I must have changed more than she had. To save embarrassment, I said “Wo Shi Huang Yimeng!” Still, it took her two seconds to realize that was true! Imagine the shock for both of us.

That evening, we probably spoiled the meeting, for the two of us just talked and talked, trying to catch up. We were best friends in high school but drifted apart after college. We both came to the U.S. in the mid-1980s. I’ve been in the DC area since 1990 and she, since 2003: 30 minutes from each other for years without knowing it. When I was 16, it was at her house in Bejing that I touched an accordion for the first time. Who could imagine that 30-some years later the accordion would bring us together again on the other side of the earth!

To me, playing the accordion again is a nostalgic experience. This miracle certainly brought back a lot of memories from our younger days! Now Ling is a cancer research scientist at NIH in Bethesda, MD, and I am a research librarian at the World Bank in DC. All of our kids are in college. We look forward to many years of playing the accordion together!

-- Yimeng Huang


Upcoming Events

Accordionist Rob Curto and John La Barbera: A Musical Passagiatta

Friday, November 13, 7:30 p.m.
Baird Auditorium, National Museum of Natural History (on the National Mall)

Imagine yourself somewhere in Italy, taking your evening passagiatta (stroll) through a moonlit piazza, listening to music being played nearby. This evening, go there with Italian- American musicians Rob Curto (accordion) and John La Barbera (guitar, mandolin) — along with La Barbera’s quartet—as they perform traditional Italian music. Drawing on the accordion's role in world music, Curto has earned the instrument many new fans. La Barbera is recognized as one of the first transcribers of Southern Italian folk music in America.

For tickets or more information, please call (202) 633-3030 or visit www.residentassociates.org


“RUSSIAN REVELRY” -- The Washington Balalaika Society's Fall Concert

Sunday, November 22, at 3 pm
Kenmore Center for Performing Arts
200 S. Carlin Springs Road
Arlington, VA (one block south of Route 50)

This performance will feature Russian xylophone virtuoso Alexander Chernobaev in an exciting program of Russian and Eastern European music. (Not to mention several WMAS members!)

More information at www.balalaika.org.