Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Oum-Pa-Pa It Wasn't

Accordions call to mind Lawrence Welk and polka music, so it was with a bit of trepidation in our hearts that Hubby and I took in an accordion orchestra concert Sunday afternoon. The concert was free and we were joining good friends for the event so we had nothing to lose.

Except our local university has a world famous accordion orchestra, led by the renowned international accordion teacher, director, and arranger Joan Sommers. We were treated to a thrilling concert of music that was approachable, beautiful, and fun.

Performing were 15 accomplished musicians, many who are required to earn a living outside the music profession, but who dedicate themselves to weekly rehearsal of all types of serious music that has been transposed for the accordion. These folks travel to town from as far away as New York City to bring us great accordion music. Their ages vary from high school graduates to seriously retired.

For Sunday's program, the orchestra performed music ranging from the traditional waltz from Faust and the familiar pieces in Brasilia Potpourri to the serious classical Tamboruin by Jean Philippe Rameau. Two favorites of the audience were the beautiful The Gem of the Kaipara with a solo performance that brought tears to our eyes and the absolute stirring Suite from Video Games Live which was performed with a marvelous video showing appropriate video game snippets. The Video Games Suite was arranged by Ms. Sommers for the 2009 World Accordion Orchestra II to be performed in Auckland, New Zealan in August. Now that's some serious credentials!

Our orchestra was so good that often we didn't remember it was accordions making all that wonderful swelling (and reedy) sound. Performing with the orchestra were three percussionist who really helped bring the music alive, playing everything from the marimba to the bongos.

After I first quit teaching in the early 2000's, Hubby and I would attend the noontime concert of a 100 tubas serenading our downtown area with Christmas carols. That music was fun and brought a lot of joy to those of us who liked tubas. I thought the accordion concert would be along those lines. Instead we were treated to a serious performance of beautiful music made by dedicated musicians.

I was especially taken by the fact that they musicians were really enjoying themselves. They smiled and looked happy throughout the concert. They reacted with unconscious joy to the music they were making. And as an audience we were simply enchanted.
This was our first venture at an accordion concert. The director, Ms. Sommer, asked that next year we look for another performance of the orchestra. We'll be sure to attend.

1 comment:

Margaret said...

I love the accordion and have for years. (even when I was younger than I am now)Does that make me bizarre? I would love to hear this orchestra.