Concert Review - 48th Annual Spring Concert

Sunday, May 31st, 2009, 2:30 PM - UMKC James C. Olson Performing Arts Center
Meet the Musicians | Concert Program and Program Notes | Photo Gallery

48th Annual Concert - Program and Program Notes
  • Tambourin from Les Fêtes d’Hêbê by Jean Philippe Rameau
  • Film Noir: City at Night by Leonard Stack
  • Andante cantabile from Serenade, Op. 39 by Alexander Comitas
  • Keniade by Fritz Dobler
    I. With Herbert on Safari
    II. Love Play of the Hippos
    III. Jumping Gazelles
    IV. Meeting of the Maassai Warriors
  • The Gem of the Kaipara by Gary Daverne
    Kevin Friedrich - Accordion Soloist
  • Suite from Video Games Live arranged by Joan C. Sommers
    "Halo Theme" from Halo Suite (Marty O'Donnell & Michael Savatori Publishing)
    "Coronation" from Civilization IV (Christopher Tin)
    Baba Yetu from Civilization IV (Christopher Tin)
    Bounty Hunter Theme from Advent Rising Suite (Tommy Tallarico and Michael Richard Plowman)
    Kingdom Hearts (Yoko Shimamura)
  • Faust Walzer by Charles Gounod arr. Willi Műnch. 
  • Brasilia Potpouri arranged by Willi Műnch
    El Cumbanchero by Rafael Hernandez
    Mambo Jambo by Perez Prado
    Brasil by Ary Barroso

umkc programTambourin from Les Fêtes d’Hêbê by Jean Philippe Rameau (1683-1764) and subsequently arranged for symphony orchestra by Felix Mottl (1856-1911) describes a rustic French dance during the opera.  This arrangement for accordion orchestra is by the most prolific of all arrangers for accordion, Anthony Galla-Rini.  It is lively and spirited.

Film Noir: City at Night was composed by the busy and successful award-winning Hollywood composer, Leonard Stack, for the World Accordion Orchestra II and premiered under the direction of Joan Sommers in Glasgow, Scotland in October of 2008 with an orchestra of 152 players.  The programmatic idea is of a dark deserted street at night where menace lurks.  The second theme announces a “floozy” sauntering in with a lonely, deserted, and expressive feeling.  The middle section increases in tension and violence as all sorts of mayhem occurs.  Finally, the main theme is recapitulated and it ends with a quiet ominousness.  The music is reminiscent of the film noir movies of the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. 

Andante cantabile from Serenade, Op. 39 by the Dutch composer, Alexander Comitas (the pseudonym for Eduard de Boer, born 1957), is the first movement of a four movement composition for accordion orchestra.  After hearing the last two movements of the piece performed in Scotland by the Dutch accordion orchestra, Alpha Opus 2, conducted by Sergei Latychev, Joan expressed interest in obtaining the piece for UMKC.  The composer and she then had several “conversations” through e-mail and he sent the music to her.  Eventually the UMKC group will perform the complete composition.  It is a deserving addition to the accordion repertoire.  While it is new, and from The Netherlands, it is not avant-garde as we so often expect from the Dutch.

Keniade (Suite in Four Movements) was written by Fritz Dobler (Born 1927), German accordionist, composer, university professor, and early winner of the coveted Coupe Mondiale competition.  This piece depicts his visit to Kenya and describes his experiences through the titles: With Herbert on Safari, Love Play of the Hippos, Jumping Gazelles, and Meeting of the Maassai Warriors.  Although Joan Sommers had conducted several of Professor Dobler’s compositions during the many years of the UMKC Accordion Orchestra, she had never met him until May of 2007 when she was a guest of the Hof (Germany) Accordion Orchestra during its sojourn to compete in the World Music Festival in Innsbruck, Austria.  Both she and Kevin Friedrich had the great pleasure of seeing the composer conduct the complete work on one of the inspirational concerts they attended.  Immediately, both of them announced almost simultaneously that the UMKC Accordion Orchestra just simply had to perform this work.  We believe you will understand why we felt this way after you also hear it. 

The Gem of the Kaipara was written in honor of long-time accordion and arts supporter, the late Jenny Maioha Cocurullo, a respected and loved citizen of Dargaville, New Zealand.  Jenny (1934-2001) always promoted the Kaipara region of NZ, where she lived, as the “Gem of the North.” However, she in turn was considered “The Gem of the Kaipara,” thus the title of the composition.
Kevin Friedrich asked Gary Daverne to write this work to serve as a musical tribute to Jenny, his long-time friend and mentor, and the project was funded by a grant from the Kaipara District Council, in addition to other donations, and was premiered in Dargaville on May 11, 2002 by the Auckland Symphony Orchestra Strings and Percussion with Kevin as accordion soloist, conducted by Gary Daverne.  The composer subsequently arranged the orchestral accompaniment for accordion orchestra, the version you will hear today.

The introduction of the piece is quite mysterious in nature, with the lower tones providing a subtle bagpipe-like drone and the airy melody and soft percussive effects reminiscent of the awakening of the lush Kauri (native NZ tree) forests and countryside of the Kaipara from its thick blanketing of dawn fog.  The main themes are written around Jenny’s name and the name of the region, the Kaipara.  The lyrical re-occurring melody is first heard by the accordion with orchestral accompaniment, and then switches to the orchestra accompanied by the accordion.  After working through an animated and rhythmical jig-like section depicting Jenny’s boundless energy, many interests and Scottish heritage, the orchestra restates the soaring melody expressing the vast expansiveness and sweeping landscapes of the Kaipara region.  Kevin Friedrich has just returned from performing the piece with the Auckland, NZ Symphony Orchestra on May 3 and May 10 under the direction of the composer, Gary Daverne.

Suite from Video Games Live was arranged by Joan Sommers for the 2009 World Accordion Orchestra III performance to be given on August 25 in Auckland, New Zealand.  The WAO III will be comprised of musicians from all over the world and will perform three pieces.  Gary Daverne (NZ) will conduct his new composition Auckland March, Fritz Dobler (Germany) will conduct two movements from his composition Slawische Skizzen, and Joan Sommers will conduct her new arrangement of Suite from Video Games Live.   The video being shown today has been compiled by Caitlin Horsmon, Assistant Professor of Film & Media Arts at UMKC, to whom we are extremely grateful. 

The music for many of the popular video games on the market has become somewhat of a phenomenon in that the live concerts presenting this music have been drawing thousands of people to events held throughout the world.  The debut performance of Video Games Live took place on July 6th, 2005 at the world famous Hollywood Bowl with the LA Philharmonic and over 11,000 people.  Similar concerts presented by orchestras such as the Yale University Symphony Orchestra and within many other educational institutions have also continued to draw large crowds of attendees.  Brief episodes of some of the music heard on the Hollywood Bowl Concert (Halo, Kingdom Hearts, Advent Rising) is included in the abbreviated Suite being performed today. 

Two of the most successful composers of this type of music state: “Our dream when we started working on Video Games Live in 2002 was to demonstrate how artistic and culturally significant video games have become.  Aside from opening the eyes of non-gamers to our industry, our goal is to help usher in a whole new generation of people to appreciate symphonic music.  Video Games Live has become the most successful video game tour in the world.   As we continue to travel around the globe, we carry on our commitment to reaffirm that video games have evolved into a true art form that become the entertainment of choice for millions in the 21st century.”  A search on the internet will yield hundreds of such performances of this music, all with live symphonic orchestral accompaniments to projected scenes from the huge varieties of video games being produced today.  Some events also draw large numbers of attendees dressed in costumes representing various characters shown in these games. 

Faust – Walzer is composed by Charles Gounod and arranged by Willi Műnch for accordion orchestra.  While there are many well-known waltzes, often from the Strauss family of Austria, this is one of the most familiar and beautiful melodies, but this time by the famous French composer of operas, Charles Gounod.  The opera Faust, premiered in 1859, was his most successful work and he spent the rest of his life trying to write another one like it.  The waltz is infectious with its delicate energy and lilting melodic style. 

Brasilia Potpouri   is also arranged by Willi Műnch.  Originally arranged for one of the many accordion orchestras in Germany, as was the Faust Waltz, this medley introduces three very familiar pieces in a Latin American style so popular in previous years, over a long period of time, and continuing even today: Brasil (Ary Barroso), El Cumbanchero (Rafael Hernandez) and Mambo Jambo (Perez Prado).



Joan C. Sommers, Director
UMKC Community Accordion Orchestra
2312 West 71 Terrace, Prairie Village, KS 66208-3322 USA

Phone: (913) 722-5625 or E-Mail: