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September 25, 2012


Meeting Notes

Bandoneonist Emmanuel Trifilio and guitarist Ramón González, two extraordinary musicians, entranced a roomful of rapt listeners at last Sunday’s WMAS meeting. While many members of the audience play or hear accordions on a daily basis, most had never before seen a bandoneon, much less heard one played. Rose-Marie Coppola expressed best what many of us felt: she clasped her hands to her heart as the first tune flowed from the instruments.

The duo played three tango styles: straight tangos, milongas (fast tangos), and waltzes, all of them popular among tango dancers. Some of the tunes were recognizable, in particular Astor Piazzolla’s “Libertango”; others were new to our ears but no less beautiful.

Emmanuel comes from Argentina, the home of the tango, and Ramón is from Venezuela, or “northern Argentina,” as Emmanuel joked. The bandoneon is a diatonic instrument; unlike our piano accordions, each of its buttons plays a different note depending on whether the bellows are being squeezed in or pulled out. Emmanuel explained that he mostly plays while pulling the bellows out to save having to learn different fingerings for each piece. He would have to think fast if he switched bellows direction because the bandoneon’s keyboards are randomly configured.

The tango developed in the immigrant neighborhoods of Bueno Aires, Argentina, in the late 19th century and early 20th century. The bandoneon was invented in Germany in the mid-19th century and presumably was brought to Argentina by immigrants, but Emmanuel said no one knows for sure who brought it or how it became associated with the tango.

Emmanuel’s instrument was made in Germany in the 1930s by the Alfred Arnold (“AA” or “Doble A”) company, which went out of business in 1949. The tango entered a dark age starting in the mid-1950s, and bandoneons stopped being manufactured at all. But the dance and the music associated with it have enjoyed a renaissance in recent years, and perhaps the production of new instruments will follow.

If you would like to hear more of Emmanuel and Ramón, they play at Chimichurri restaurant (http://chimichurriresto.com/) on Rockville Pike on Friday evenings and at Panas restaurant (http://panasgourmet.com/) in Bethesda on Saturday evenings. The duo’s regular Wednesday evening gig at Rumba Café in Adams Morgan DC is on hold for now, though. We are organizing a group to go to Chimichurri on Friday, November 2; please reply to this email if you would like to be included.

Hats off, by the way, to Sunday’s “greeters”! Our warm-up act, Karen Malan-Uribe on accordion and Luis Uribe on glockenspiel, was greatly entertaining.


Coming Up – Oktoberfest

After the Sept. 23 program, Joan Grauman distributed Oktoberfest sheet music and the group ran through it. Please practice these pieces, as we will play them at our next meeting, on October 21, our annual Oktoberfest celebration. You may also sign up (by replying to this email) to play a solo (or a duet, trio, etc.), but please stick to appropriate Oktoberfest (Bavarian, Austrian) dance music, especially polkas and waltzes. Anyone who was not at the September meeting and would like to receive the sheet music in PDF format, please email Joan at joangrauman@verizon.net.

We’re happy that Herb Fredrickson and his dancers will be back again this year to both perform and teach. Paul Aebersold will open the celebration with 15-20 minutes of German tunes starting about 3:45.

Besides your instrument and dance shoes, please bring German/Austrian dishes to share and invite your friends and family.

WMAS Oktoberfest
Sunday, October 21, 4 pm
Sleepy Hollow United Methodist Church
3435 Sleepy Hollow Road
Falls Church, Virginia


ISO Accordionist for November 3 Italian Night in Woodbridge

Roe Dohm is looking for an accordionist who will be able to play mostly Italian music at her neighborhood’s Italian Night on Saturday, November 3. The event will take place at River Ridge over 55 Community in Woodbridge, Virginia. Please contact ysaler1@yahoo.com for more information.


Accordionist Needed for Children’s Opera

The Opera Guild of Northern Virginia is seeking an accordionist for a children’s opera called "Monkey See Monkey Do" to be presented December 2-7, 2012, and April 21-25, 2013. The opera is 30 minutes long.

This is a paid gig for a skilled musician.

Please contact Jose Sacin at josesacin@yahoo.com.