about today's program and the performers
The opera, L'Italiana in Algeri, (The Italian Girl in Algiers)
by Giaocchino Rossini (1792-1868) had its first performance
in Venice in 1813. Written in either 18 or 27 days, depending
on which source one believes when he was 21 years of age, the
opera was a notable success. The overture is widely recorded and
performed today, known for its distinct opening of slow, quiet
pizzicato strings, leading to a sudden loud burst of sound from
the full orchestra. The "surprise" reflects Rossini's
early admiration for Joseph Haydn, whose Symphony No. 94, "The
Surprise Symphony", is so named for the same shocking, semi-comic
effect. The music is characteristic of Rossini's style, remarkable
for its fusion of sustained, manic energy with elegant, pristine
was written in 1987 by Ivo Josipovic (b. 1957) who is
now serving as the President of Croatia. The English word Dithyramb
means "a choir song dedicated to Dionysus, the god of wine.
Josipovic finished high school in music then continued his musical
education studying composition at the Music Academy in Zagreb.
He holds a degree in music composition as well as in law. He has
served as a university professor and as a Member of Parliament.
As a faculty member in the University of Zagreb, he taught criminal
procedure law, international criminal law and law of torts. He
is a member of several national international law and artistic
associations and has had published more than 85 scientific papers
and articles in national and international journals. Ivo Josipovic
has written about 50 compositions performed by renowned Croatian
and foreign artists. Joan Sommers heard Ditiramb performed by
the Academic Accordion Orchestra of the Juraj Dobrila University
in Pula, Croatia, conducted by Professor Denis Modruan,
during the 2010 Coupe Mondiale held in Veradin, Croatia
written in 1947 by Leroy Anderson (1908-1975), is one
of the most recognized pieces performed throughout the world for
many years. He grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts where he was
educated at Harvard and began his career with the Boston Pops
Orchestra. Serenata has been adapted by both vocalists and instrumentalists.
The melodic and harmonic material shift in texture, key and mode,
as an infectious Latin rhythm is played throughout. The composer
never seemed to run out of ideas for his many compositions and
when asked how he came up with all these, he replied that he made
it a point to sit down and think of them every day! The illustrious
composer/conductor, John Williams, has said Leroy Anderson was
"one of the most famous composers of light music for symphony
orchestra in the world."
Filles de Cadix (The Maids of Cadiz) written in 1874 for
solo voice by the French composer, Léo Delibes (1836-1891).
It gives our accordion orchestra the opportunity to feature our
soprano soloist, Suzanne Boucard. It is a bolero with a flirtatious
attitude! Delibes studied composition at the famed Paris Conservatoire
and soon became well-known for his many compositions for ballets,
operas and other works for the stage.
musical My Fair Lady by Lerner and Loewe included
several songs which became extremely popular, one of which was
sung by Eliza, the Cockney flower girl. After having her former
pronunciation now turned into that of the impeccable upper class
English by Professor Higgins and upon being urged to go to bed,
Eliza says she is just too excited to go to bed and begins singing
I Could Have Danced All Night. My Fair Lady has been proclaimed
"the perfect musical." There have been numerous revivals
after the Broadway production of 1956, followed by the London
production, and a popular film version.
from Andalucia Suite (c. 1928) by Ernesto Lecuona (1895-1963)
has been arranged for many different instruments. Anthony Galla-Rini
arranged it for accordion solo and later arranged it for ensemble.
The solo in that arrangement has now been adapted for MIDI solo
by today's soloist, Betty Jo Simon. Lecuona, born in Cuba, was
a pianist and composer with a prodigious melodic gift. He began
as a child prodigy, graduated from the National Conservatory of
Havana at the age of 16, and eventually had a great deal of his
music introduced to the mass American audiences by Desi Arnaz,
a fellow Cuban and Lucille Ball's spouse. It has been said there
is nothing like a Lecuona song and he wrote 406 of them! Betty
Jo Simon began performing as a very young person and continues
to be very active both as a sought-after soloist and leader of
her bands. She has several recordings available.
Triumphal March from Aida by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)
was given its first performance in Cairo in December, 1871. After
being first commissioned by Isma'il Pasha, Khedive (Viceroy or
Governor) of Egypt, for a performance in January of that year,
the premiere was delayed to the December date because of the Franco-Prussian
War. Verdi did not attend the Cairo premiere, where it was met
with great acclaim, and he did not consider it the real premiere
since no members of the general public were invited. The February,
1872 performance, in which he had been heavily involved, at La
Scala in Milan also met with great success. The opera Aida was
not written for the opening of the Suez Canal as is so often believed.
Verdi had been invited to write something for the event but he
declined on the grounds that he did not write "occasional
wanted to conduct The Triumphal March from Aida because it was
probably the first, if not the very first, piece she ever conducted
in public as a young girl in the yearly Festivals sponsored by
The National Federation of Music Clubs. Anthony Galla-Rini, who
later became one of her teachers, had made a rather short and
somewhat simplified version of the march for the popular accordion
bands of those days. Joan used that 5-part arrangement for her
very first efforts as a conductor. In later years she also used
a much longer and more difficult arrangement by Galla-Rini; however,
she wanted to do her own symphonic-style arrangement for this
nonino, "Goodbye Grandfather," written in 1959
is the single most famous of the pieces written by Argentinean
Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992) who performed it thousands of times
in at least 20 different arrangements. It was written in commemoration
of the death of his father, Vincente, known as "nonino."
As with all Piazzolla compositions, it demonstrates the elements
of melancholy, nostalgia, and sadness in the beautiful melodies
as well as the sensuality of their strong basic rhythms for which
the composer was noted. Piazzolla studied with Ginastera in Buenos
Aires and Nadia Boulanger in Paris. He won innumerable enthusiasts
for both his Nuevo Tango and for the traditional tango with his
many appearances, recordings, and hundreds of compositions as
well as awards from international music magazines, and a Grammy
nomination for Oblivion. The featured dancers are Louis Bar and
Laura Cantu. They are 6 times French National Champions and 5
times World Finalists in Argentine Tango, Swing and other ballroom
dances. They travel all over the world to compete, perform teach
and learn. In addition, they are the owners of Louis & Company
in Overland Park, KS. Check out their website www.funwithstyle.com.
(2010) was written by the well-known American composer, John Franceschina
(b. 1948), especially for Joan Sommers to conduct at the
2010 Coupe Mondiale premiere by the World Accordion Orchestra
IV. It is a six movement piece intended to be performed in order
without pause. The work is based on the Thesmaphoriazusae of Aristophanes,
an Old Comedy play that suggested the structure of the music.
The movements are described as follows:
Prologue sets out the dramatic (here, musical) ideas that are
to be developed;
· Parados (or Parade) announces the entrance of the chorus
who bear witness to the ideas being developed;
· Parabasis, a kind of scherzo allowing the author (composer)
the opportunity of ridiculing the ideas;
· Agon, a life-or-death moment of the dramatic idea;
· Syzygy, the playing out of the dramatic idea (a musical
· Cordax, the celebratory dance that ended every Greek
is not only a composer, arranger, musical director and conductor
but is also a well-known published author and playwright, having
a long list of successful books and plays. His symphonic works
have been heard at Carnegie Hall and performed by major symphony
orchestras around the world. He has composed for the musical theatre
in NY and on tour. He has collaborated with several librettists
and won numerous awards. As a pianist/arranger, he has accompanied
many of the best known performers in the world and has also served
as conductor and arranger for a number of off-Broadway shows.
His books have been widely published by various publishers, including
Oxford University Press, Hollowbrook, Garland, Greenwood, McFarland,
Routledge, and iUniverse.
Recuerdos (Memories) was written in 2011 by Amy Jo Sawyer
and dedicated to the UMKC Accordion Orchestras under the direction
of Joan Sommers. Amy Jo has written many exciting compositions
for accordion orchestra, several of which were composed for various
touring groups of UMKC accordionists throughout the past years.
She and Joan first met in 1956 in Biel, Switzerland where both
were representing the USA in the Coupe Mondiale. They have maintained
a warm and appreciative friendship personally and through their
work with the Accordionists and Teachers Guild, International.
Amy Jo has performed with the UMKC touring groups several times
and we welcome her once again today where she is playing in the
orchestra. In addition to being an outstanding composer, she performs
widely as a soloist and has several recordings available.
Medley from The Sound of Music (1959), composed by the team of
Richard Rodgers (1902-1979) and Oscar Hammerstein II (1895-1960),
and arranged for accordion orchestra by Willard Palmer. This arrangement
has been performed many times by our UMKC accordionists all over
the world. It incorporates several of the most memorable pieces
from the popular movie and continues to be just as exciting as
the first time it was performed.
There Be Peace on Earth (1955), written by the husband and wife
team of Jill Jackson (1913-1995) and Sy Miller (1908-1971),
has been arranged hundreds of times for various groups of musicians
and singers. Sy Miller wrote, "One summer evening in 1955,
a group of 180 teenagers of all races and religions met at a workshop
high in the California mountains, locked arms, formed a circle
and sang a song of peace. They felt that singing the song, with
its simple basic sentiment - 'Let there be peace on earth and
let it begin with me,' helped to create a climate for world peace
and understanding.' Since that time it has been shared all over
the world. In Sy Miller's words again: "This simple thought,
'Let There Be Peace on Earth, and Let It Begin With Me,' first
born on a mountain top in the voices of youth, continues to travel
heart to heart - gathering in people everywhere who wish to become
a note in a song of understanding and peace - peace for all mankind."
Sommers arranged the accordion orchestra version based on an original
symphonic arrangement by the well-known Kansas City composer and
arranger, Mark Hayes. The accordion version was first performed
by the 164 member World Accordion Orchestra I at the 2007 Coupe
Mondiale in Alexandria, VA under the direction of Joan Sommers.
She felt it was the absolute and most appropriate piece with which
to end this 50th Anniversary Celebration Concert.