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

UMKC Accordion Orchestra | Joan Sommers - Director | CDs | Order CD's | Contact  
2009 Concert Review  | 2010 Concert Review  | 2011 Concert Review
Concert Review - 58th Annual Spring Concert
We thank you for visiting the UMKC Community Accordion Orchestra website and this review of the 48th Annual Spring Concert held in Kansas City on May 31st, 2009 at the James C. Olson Performing Arts Center.

We thank our two outstanding photographers Anne Marie Cardin (left) and Wolfgang Simon (right) for providing their pictures of the concert weekend with us for you to enjoy.

Meet the Members of the UMKC Community Accordion Orchestra

Joan C. Sommers, even though retired from full-time teaching and administrative duties at UMKC, has continued to be just as active, if not even more so, in both national and international accordion activities just as she has been all her life.  Her best friends and confidantes continue to be her accordion students and the far-flung colleagues she has met in so many different countries from throughout her years of teaching, beginning at the age of 14.  She still loves teaching, adjudicating competitions, giving workshops, writing reviews of CDs for Accordions Worldwide and, most of all, working with accordion orchestras.  The best puzzle for her is the arranging of music for the accordion orchestra, something she has done since the age of 18.  Joan has always believed in the power of music and the many benefits it provides for all ages, whether as an amateur or professional.  She has hoped her accordion students would continue to enjoy music throughout their lives and, perhaps, use their music training in many diverse ways to help others experience the same life-long excitement it has given them and her.  Joan is now once again retired from the oft-held presidency of the Accordionists and Teachers Guild, International, an organization held dear to her heart because of its lasting influence on her as a teenager.  This gives her more personal time for crossing off the items on her “must do” list, including more frequent visits to see her two small grandsons in CA and for writing the long-promised book which will include all those “reasons I didn’t practice this week.” 


betty jo

Betty Jo Simon lives in Overland Park, KS and is a former student of Joan Sommers.  She has been a member of the orchestra for most of 50 years.   She earned her Bachelor of Music degree in Accordion Performance in 1969 and went on the first two USO tours THE ACCORDIONAIRES made for the National Music Council/Department of Defense to Greenland, Newfoundland and Labrador and two years later to Germany.   After graduation she taught for a while, then toured as a soloist with THE FRED WARING PENNSYLVANIANS.  She is married, has two married children, plays professionally around Kansas City and has a German polka band, the “Alpen Spielers.”  She also toured with the UMKC Accordion Orchestra on the last three concerts tours to New Zealand, Eastern Europe, and Italy.  In February 2000, she performed on a Chinese National TV musical variety program and gave concerts in Beijing and Shanghai.  Betty Jo has been asked to perform the First Movement of the Anthony Galla-Rini Concerto No. 1 in g minor for Accordion and Orchestra on three concerts with the Auckland Symphony Orchestra.  The last performance will be part of the opening concert of the Coupe Mondiale, World Accordion Championship Competition, held in Auckland, NZ August 25 – 29, 2009.


Ron Barrow (Leawood, KS) began playing the accordion at age 11 when his mother called him in from the sandlot baseball game to take a “free” musical aptitude test.  Music took control and ruined his life from that moment forward.  Forcing retirement from a certain career as a big league catcher, a jammed finger nearly caused him to miss the Indiana Accordion Championship and a trip to the World’s Fair in New York City.  Moving to KC in 1967 to study with Professor Joan Sommers at UMKC, he was required to play in small towns like Flat River, MO and take a USO trip to Germany to play in more small towns – Fulda, Kaiserslautern, Stuttgart, Ulm...  Even his lovely wife, Judy, a Kansas farm girl and former “Snowball Queen” is a “recovering” accordionist.  While his son, Justin, managed to skip the affliction, granddaughters Lydia and Abigail may someday “squeeze.”  Even today, Ron is here playing for you instead of sailing on beautiful Stockton Lake.  Thanks to the Accordion, Ron was the first member of his family to graduate from college earning a UMKC Bachelor of Music Degree in 1971, adding an MA Education (UMKC) in 1975, and an MBA (KU) in 1987.


joyce Joyce Davis began the study of accordion at a young age and earned her Baccalaureate of Music in Accordion Performance in 1979.  After several years of teaching accordion, she began work with the Internal Revenue Service where she continues today.  (Joan told her that if she didn’t write something about herself, she would do it.  So here goes: Joyce is one of those quiet people who is a star bass accordionist!  She just opens up the music and reads it perfectly and is always dependable, whatever part she is given.  Indeed, Joyce has played all parts, including the Elektronium and MIDI parts, at some time during her long membership in the orchestra.  She has also made numerous trips throughout the USA and overseas with the UMKC accordionists.  During her school years she became quite well known for her expertise in writing out music by hand for everyone needing a perfect manuscript.)

kevin Kevin Friedrich lives in New York, NY.  He joined the UMKC Accordion Orchestra in 1980 when he first arrived in Kansas City from Dargaville, New Zealand as a UMKC Freshman studying with Joan Sommers.  After graduating, he went on to study in Paris with Max Bonnay, before immigrating to the USA in 1987.  Kevin’s accordion projects are quite diverse including his work with Accordions Worldwide, the largest accordion internet site in the world, and traveling to accordion festivals throughout the world providing online coverage, to establishing an Accordion Museum in his home town of Dargaville, NZ, and to working with various accordion organizations on both a National and International level.  He is currently serving his second four year term as President of the Confédération Internationale des Accordéonistes (CIA), IMC-UNESCO, the International Accordion Organization comprising national accordion associations from 35 countries.  Kevin lives in New York City and, when he is not doing something related to the accordion, you might find him on a Delta Airlines flight anywhere from right here at KCI to as far away as South Africa or anywhere in between, with his work as a Flight Attendant, his “day job” since 1989.

don Don Lipovac, a graduate of the Kansas City Conservatory of Music with degrees in theory and education, performed in Carnegie Hall and represented America as US-AAA Champion at the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels, Belgium.  He received the “Polka Hall of Fame” Award at Iron World in Chisholm, MN in 1992 and a “National Cleveland-Style Hall of Fame” Lifetime Achievement Award in Cleveland, OH in 2006 in recognition of his work in preserving and promoting Slovenian Cultural Heritage. Don started his musical career at the age of four, playing Slovenian melodies on a button-box accordion bought by his grandfather and later began piano accordion lessons with Alfred Vacca, who trained him thoroughly in the classics.  He has appeared on the Lawrence Welk Television Show during its period of great popularity and as a soloist with the Kansas City Philharmonic Orchestra.  He served as director of the St. John Tamburitzans for more than 35 years and was inducted into the Tamburitza Association of America Hall of Fame for outstanding contributions toward the preservation of Tamburitza music.

sam Samantha Jarquio will be a second year Landscape Architecture student this fall at Kansas State University.  She began the study of accordion at age 5 with Terry Bell in Independence, MO and later with Joan Sommers at age 10 during which time she switched from piano accordion to the chromatic accordion.  Now, of course, she plays both instruments as needed.  She has entered many competitions, including those of MAMA, ATG, AAA and the Confédération Internationale des Accordéonistes in which she placed seventh in the Junior Coupe Mondiale representing the ATG/USA.  Although she does not take regular lessons while in college, Samantha occasionally returns to KC to rekindle her musical relationship with the accordion orchestra.  Last year she was a featured clarinet soloist with the orchestra on concerts here at UMKC and in Nashville, TN.

christine Christine Jarquio is from Independence, Missouri, and graduated on May 16 from the University of Missouri in Columbia with a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education.  While there, she studied voice privately with Ann Harrell and sang in University Singers and the Show-Me Opera Program.  Christine began studying accordion at the age of six with Terry Bell and later began her studies with Joan Sommers, under whose guidance she earned the right to represent the USA and ATG in the 2003 Coupe Mondiale held in the twin cities of Štúrovo, Slovakia and Esztergom, Hungary.  Though she no longer seriously competes, she enjoys playing in the accordion orchestra whenever she comes home.  Starting in the fall, Christine will be pursuing a Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance at Florida State University.  Last year she was a featured vocal soloist with the orchestra on concerts here at UMKC and in Nashville, TN.

karen Karen (Scovel) Boocock lives in Wichita, KS, having been born there and growing up in the nearby suburb of Derby.   Her mother taught her to play piano.  Karen’s first accordion was a blue plastic one, and she danced around pretending to play music from Mary Poppins.  She played the viola for a year, but dropped it in favor of the accordion, eventually to major in accordion at UMKC. 

Since graduating in 1982, she has studied and taught voice, and she married her voice teacher’s brother!  Karen returned to the accordion for the Conservatory’s 100th Anniversary concerts.  The motivation to regain her skills has helped her get through breast cancer and reconstructive surgeries.

amy Amy (Hatfield) Hayes has been a member of the orchestra since 1979.  She earned her Baccalaureate at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and has traveled extensively with the orchestra during both her student days and afterwards.  For the past 11 years she has lived in College Station, Texas but is now in the process of moving to Thayer, Kansas, which will be many miles closer to her accordion friends.  Although she is the busy mother of two young children, Amy still finds time to enjoy her musical activities, including driving many hours in order to attend orchestra rehearsals here in Kansas City.

bob Bob Eichkorn played accordion as a young student while growing up in Topeka, KS where he continues to live.  Bob, in fact, was enrolled in the very first class of accordion degree students in the Conservatory of Music but was called into US Military service during his first semester of study.  He has retired after 41 years in Document Management Sales and Service, using Microfilm and Imaging Systems for Storage and Retrieval of Vital and Business Records in Northeast Kansas.

mickey Mickey Eichkorn also played accordion as a young student while growing up in Topeka, KS.  Mickey is a retired Registered Nurse who graduated from Stormont-Vail School of Nursing in 1964.  Both Mickey and her husband Bob Eichkorn played in the original Mid-America Accordion Symphony Orchestra in the years 1958-1960 that was based in Kansas City.   They came back to the accordion to play in the accordion orchestra for the celebration of Joan’s 40th year at the Conservatory.  Soon after last year’s concert, and with considerable encouragement, they decided to make the long drive from Topeka every Thursday evening to attend rehearsals of the orchestra and once again enjoy the music of an accordion orchestra.  They have three sons and five grandchildren.

cathysue Cathy Sue Weiss, originally from New York, started playing the accordion when she was 7 years old.  She won several competitions, including that of the 1973 NY State Championship.   In 1977 she moved to KC to complete her Baccalaureate of Music degree in Accordion Performance at UMKC. Since that time she has continued to play with the UMKC groups and has traveled worldwide.   Cathy currently works for Pitney Bowes and was awarded 2008 Top Sales Awards which included recent trips to Cancun, Mexico and Puerto Rico.  She resides in the Brookside area with her 4 dogs and 2 cats, all adopted through rescue work.  Weekends during the summer are spent on her boat at Stockton Lake.  She enjoys cooking and entertaining for her friends and treasures the time that she can spend with them.

maryann Mary Ann Covone currently lives in Western Springs, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago) with her thirteen year old daughter, Anne Marie, and their golden retriever, Sammie.  Mary Ann graduated from UMKC in 1981 with a Bachelor of Music degree in Accordion Performance.  After teaching and performing in the Chicago area for ten years, Mary Ann attended The John Marshall Law School in Chicago and graduated in 1991.  She currently practices law full time in the Chicago area focusing on litigation (wrongful death, personal injury and business litigation), probate, guardianship and estate planning.  Mary Ann has also assisted clients in the states of Kansas and Missouri and will soon be licensed to practice law in both those states as well as in Illinois.

laura Laura Lee Crandall is a freelance percussionist and private music teacher in Kansas City.  She graduated from UMKC with a bachelors in Percussion Performance in 2006 and has enjoyed being part of the Kansas City music scene ever since.

nick Nick Baker is a recent graduate of UMKC’s Conservatory of Music and Dance with a Bachelor of Arts in Music with concentrations in percussion and Spanish.  He plays regularly around the Kansas City area as a solo marimbist and with myriad eclectic ensembles including The Melek Ta’us Ensemble, The Prometheus Unbound Art Ensemble, The Nova Project and others.   Nick teaches drumset and percussion at Big Dude’s Music City.  Little know fact: Nick is a closet accordion player!

brian Brian Steever is a jazz drummer from Jefferson City, MO.  He just completed his freshman year in the jazz performance program at UMKC studying with Bobby Watson, Brandon Draper, and Gerald Spaits.  Kansas City has been treating him well as he has been able to play around town with several local legends including Bobby Watson, Mark Lowery, Clint Ashlock, Gerald Spaits, Pat Conway, Matt Hopper, and Hermon Mehari to name a few.   He has also had the opportunity to study classical percussion with Dr. James Snell.  Keep your ears open and catch him playing around town.

Joan Sommers would like to express her most sincere appreciation and thanks to Liz Finch for preparing all the copies in Sibelius print for the music of Film Noir: City at Night and the Suite from Video Games Live.  Liz is a professional copyist who has so graciously volunteered her services in preparing both of the Leonard Stack pieces for performance by the World Accordion Orchestra and for this new arrangement by Joan for the 2009 WAO.  Liz has also performed with the UMKC Accordion Orchestra and the Accordionaires quite frequently at various times in the past.  She earned her Baccalaureate at UMKC and her Masters in Wyoming before beginning her professional career in the Los Angeles area.  Liz also serves as a Vice-president of the Accordionists and Teachers Guild, International.



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: