Sunday, May 22nd 2011, 2:30 PM - UMKC James C. Olson Performing Arts Center
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50th Annual Concert - Program and Program Notes
May 22, 2011 - Concert Repertoire
  • L'Italiana in Algeri Overture
    by Giaocchino Rossini (arr. Willi Munch)

  • Ditiramb by Ivo Josipovic

  • Serenata
    by Leroy Anderson (arr. Joan Cochran Sommers)

  • Les Filles de Cadix
    by Léo Delibes (arr. Anthony Galla-Rini)
  • I Could Have Danced All Night from My Fair Lady
    by Alan Jay Lerner & Frederick Loewe
    Featuring Suzanne Bouchard, Soprano

  • Malaguena
    by Ernesto Lecuona (arr. Willard Palmer & Bill Hughes)
    Featuring Betty Jo Simon, MIDI Accordion

- Intermission -

  • Triumphal March from Aida
    by Giuseppe Verdi (arr. Joan Cochran Sommers)

  • Iconosphere (written for Joan Sommers)
    by John Franceschina

  • Recuerdos (written for this 50th Celebration Concert)
    by Amy Jo Sawyer

  • The Sound of Music Medley
    by Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II (arr. Willard Palmer & Bill Hughes)
    UMKC Accordion Orchestra Reunion Members

  • Let There Be Peace on Earth
    by Sy Miller & Jill Jackson (arr. Joan Cochran Sommers)
    (Arrangement based on Symphony Orchestra Arrangement by Mark Hayes)
    UMKC Community Accordion Orchestra plus Reunion Members
    Featuring Choir from Lee's Summit, Dr. Verna Brummett, Director
    And other singers (Christine Jarquio, Director and Organizer)

Notes 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 melodies.

Ditiramb 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 Modrušan, during the 2010 Coupe Mondiale held in Veraždin, Croatia last October.

Serenata, 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."

Les 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.

The world-famous 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.

Malagueña 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.

The 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 pieces."

Joan Sommers 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 concert today.

Adiós 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

Iconosphere (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 development section);
· Cordax, the celebratory dance that ended every Greek Old Comedy.

John Franceschina 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.

This 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.

Let 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."

Joan 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.



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: