2018 AAA 80th Anniversary Festival

12th July Daily Report

Thank you to: (alphabetical order) Rita Davidson Barnea, Lou Coppola,
Kevin Friedrich, Joan Grauman, Harley Jones, Alison Worthington for help with providing photos.
Thank you to Dan and Joan Grauman for providing video.
Junior Orchestra rehearsal, conductor AAA President Mary Tokarski.
Celebrated journalist John Kelly, The Washington Post published the following article on 12 July 2018.

Hear that sound? It’s 150 accordionists celebrating the love of their instrument.

Among the many things that Lou Coppola of Falls Church, Va., has done during his long career in music was teach the first, and perhaps only, college class on “strolling strings,” those perambulating players who enliven dinners, receptions and other public events.

It was at George Mason University. Lou covered how to properly enter a room (“We practiced almost like a drill team,” he said), how to stay in tempo in a large space (“When we’re spread all over the room it’s hard to hear”), the importance of eye contact (“Look at the customers; don’t frown”).

Said Lou: “They had to look happy. We change from being classically trained violinists to entertainers. But we still have to play the music like we would if we were sitting in an orchestra.”

The irony is that Lou isn’t a string player at all. He’s an accordionist. And at a banquet on Saturday in Alexandria, Va., the American Accordionists’ Association (AAA) will honor him with its Lifetime Achievement Award.

How did the Bridgeport, Conn., native become so wise in the ways of the strolling string? In 1956, Lou enlisted in the U.S. Air Force to play his instrument with the service’s premier band, based in Washington at what was then called Bolling Air Force Base. During his 28-year hitch, Lou became the first accordionist to lead the Air Force Strolling Strings.

“I like to say I was as famous as the first man in space, but I was just the first accordionist,” he said.During his 28-year hitch, Lou Coppola became the first accordionist to lead the Air Force Strolling Strings. (Family photo)

Lou played for nine presidents, and on the side ran his own strolling band, the Stereo Strings. He played weekly at Fort Myer Officer Club for an amazing 44 years. Not bad for a kid who wasn’t sure he even wanted to play the accordion.

“It was only because my mother told me if I didn’t like the accordion after a month, I could quit,” he said. “The only problem was, I forgot to stop.”

Lou was 10 at the time. That was 71 years ago.

Lou won his first AAA Virtuoso Competition when he was 15, then won it another three times. He was the first winner of that award to compete in the prestigious Coupe Mondiale, sponsored by the CIA. That’s the Confédération Internationale des Accordéonistes. Lou was 18 when he traveled to Brighton, England, for the big contest in 1955.

“The thing that confused the hell out of me was it was my first time being with English- speaking — real English-speaking — people,” Lou said. “I couldn’t understand what in the world they were saying. After I was there for a couple days I finally got them.”

Lou didn’t win, but he helped pave the way for future American competitors. And he provided valuable tips in selecting the right piece to play for the judges. As in figure skating, the harder pieces were worth more points. His “Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso,” a Camille 
violin piece transcribed for the accordion, was a 7-pointer on a scale that went to 10.

The accordion has had its ups and downs, squeezed by the fickle nature of pop music. Old-timers remember when it was more popular than the guitar. That was before, as Lou put it, “the Beatles and that other guy — Elvis Presley — showed up.”

But the accordion seems to be in the midst of a mini-revival.

“It is coming back, very much, in all kinds of music, in restaurants, everywhere” said Joan Grauman, an accordionist from Frederick, Md., and AAA’s historian. “I’m hearing it more and more in commercials, which is exciting.”

This is the 80th anniversary of the American Accordionists’ Association and plenty of accordion-related events are on tap at its annual convention, underway at the Holiday Inn Hotel and Suites on First Street in Alexandria. Workshops include “Tango Rhythms,” “Kurt Weill and the Accordion” and “Easy Accordion Repairs.”

About 150 accordionists are in attendance, some from as far away as New Zealand. They’ll be coalescing in impromptu combos and breaking out such accordion relatives as the bandoneon and the bayan. It’s a colorful sea of shiny pearloid plastic.

A concert Friday at 6:30 p.m. is open to the public. Tickets are $25. For information, visit ameraccord.com. It will feature 60 accordions.

Said Joan: “We hope that people close their eyes and think they’re sitting and listening to a major symphony orchestra.”

ABC Breakfast interviews Frank Busso Sr.
TV Reporter ready to play the accordion and interview as well
Busso extended family, left to right: daughter Christina and her son Alexander Lammers, Frank Busso Snr, TV Reporter, Caroline Lammers, Frank Busso Jr. and son Nicholas Busso.
Joseph Natoli with his CD's and music displayed.
Music Magic, Peter DiGiovanni talking to Alex Chudolij, owner of Music Magic USA.

TV Station broadcast - WUSA9

Max Hoffman and Alexander Lammers Cody McSherry and Gia Ciccone
Monique Bellemare and Richard Lanthier from Canada. Janice Lavoie and Annette Marinelli
Gia Ciccone Max Hoffman
Shilong Cui  
Workshop: Rachel Quirbach
"Wellness for Accordionists"
Wellness for Accordionists Presented by Rachel Quirbach AAA Festival Workshop 2018.pdf

Rachel writes to the participants: Thank you so much for attending my workshop on wellness for accordionists last Thursday! It was amazing to have so many people in the room and participating throughout the workshop! I am emailing you today because you requested I send you the slides from my presentation. A PDF of the slides is above.

Due to a high level of interest, I am currently working on making videos showing the various stretches we went over so that you can see them step by step again. I will send out those links as soon as I post the videos online!


Article and Video on circa.com

Accordionists from across the globe descend to Virginia

ALEXANDRIA, VA. Written by Omar Mohammed, circa.com

There's a party going on in the commonwealth and it's being grooving to the beat of an accordion. Accordionists from all over the world are in Alexandria, Va. for the 80th Anniversary Celebration of the American Accordionists' Association. Members of the organization are hoping to transform the DC area into "Accordion Capital of the World."

Each year the American Accordionistsí Association sponsors a Festival in a major city of the United States. Guest artists are invited to perform, and hold Master Classes and Workshops.

The event will also honor retired United States Air Force Accordionist Louis F. Coppola. He'll receive the AAA's Lifetime Achievement Award after he performed with Air Force Strolling Strings for over 25 years.

"The accordion remains an integral part of our popular culture because it mirrors our ethnic heritage," according to AAA President Mary J. Tokarski. "You can see and hear the instrument in every media."

The AAA says they have thousands members. The festival will will have a number of performances and events from July 12-15. Some performances will feature local musicians for the DC area.

For more information on the AAA, visit their website www.ameraccord.com.

Luncheon & Concert

Beautiful stand signs made by Linda Solely Reed.
AAA President Mary Tokarski shows a beautiful carved wooden gift to the AAA by Canadian Normand Themens.
Lovely design and craftsman ship by Normand Themens.
Cody McSherry singing
Well known and popular international accordion entertainer Lionel Reekie (New Zealand)
began the musical entertainment at the 80th Anniversary Luncheon and Concert.
Video of part of the performance of Lionel Reekie performing at the luncheon. Thank you to Dan Grauman for the video.
5 times world champion Grayson Masefield was the next performer at the luncheon.
Video of Grayson Masefield performing at the luncheon. Thank you to Dan Grauman for the video.
Trifilio Tango Trio from Washington. Video of their performance will be available shortly.


Trifilio Tango Trio seminar was full. Emmanuel Trifilio
Emmanuel Trifilio Emmanuel Trifilio
Mayumi Hada performing with the Trifilio Tango Trio.
AAA Festival Accordion Orchestra rehearsal, conductor Prof. Joan Sommers
A lot of players enjoying the experience of playing in a large orchestra.
Nathan Chapeton, Cody McSherry, Mitch Guido and Rachel Quirbach.
Kevin Friedrich and Sam Falcetti.
Lynn Ewing

Dinner and Concert

Another colorful signboard for the Dinner and Concert made by Linda Solely Reed.
Beautiful opening music for the dinner by Joe Cerritto.
and continued by Ray Oreggia, also Master of Ceremonies for the evening.
Linda Soley Reed birthday cake with Joan Grauman taking a picture and Cody McSherry and Joe Cerritto playing while the audience sang. Some also sang AAA and Linda for the Happy Birthday song remembering the AAA 80th too.
We then found out that Dr Robert McMahan also had a birthday (left is Anne McMahan). and that Magic Music Accordions USA proprietors Alex and Lillianna Chudolij
were having a Wedding Anniversary tonight and there was cheers around the nearby tables when Alex gave a most impressive anniversary kiss to Lillianna. Who says accordionists don't have the most fun!
Lionel Reekie international accordionist with a beautiful tenor voice began the concert. Lionel has performed in many countries of the world as his performance was very appreciated by his accordionist audience.
Buena Sera
Autumn Leaves
Lionel Reekie sang, played, moved and jumped to make a very impressive performance
and a well earned standing ovation.
Beverly Roberts Curnow, Joseph Natoli and Mary Tokarski trio.
Beverly Roberts Curnow, Joseph Natoli and Mary Tokarski trio.
Players are: Betty Jo Simon, Kevin Friedrich, Ron Barrow, Joyce Davis, Samantha Wagner, Cathy Weiss, Joan C. Sommers, Ron Dake.
The amazing Joan Sommers, University of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC) Accordion Ensemble musical director announced the music, Ron Dake in the background.
Their program was:
1. Fuga 9 by A. Piazzolla, based on an arrangement by Werner Weibert.
2. Danse (Tarantell Styrienne) by Claude Debussy, Arranged by Anthony Galla-Rini from the Maurice Ravel Orchestration.
3. Concerto per Archi by Nina Rota, Arranged by Eugene Negruta, II - Scherzo, IV - Finale.
4. Blue Swan and Fuga by Stas Venglevski.
5. Danse Bacchanale by Saint Saëns, arranged Joan C. Sommers.
Encores: After an extended standing ovation, the UMKC Ensemble performed two encores, to a further standing ovation.
6. La Cabeza Loca(South American Fantaisie) by Sergio Castelli.
7. Arrival from Flight for Accordion Orchestra by Ian Watson.
Fuga 9 by A. Piazzolla
Blue Swan and Fuga
Danse Bacchanale by Saint Saëns.
Concert ended with a several standing ovations and two encores, with this picture showing the
UMKC players enjoying the moment.