After the Gala 50th Anniversary concert and retirement of the UMKC Accordion Orchestra, a smaller group of players have continued to perform nationwide as the The UMKC Community Accordion Ensemble. This summer, the Ensemble will perform in both Kansas City and Washington DC as follows:

  • Kansas City area:
    Friday, 22 June 2018 at 3:00 PM (Private School Concert)
    Saturday 23 June 2018 at 2:30 PM (Free Public Concert)
    The Global Montessori Academy, NW Corner of 75th Street & Belinder, Prairie Village, KS 66208

  • Washington DC area:
    Thursday, 12 July 2018 at 8:00 PM
    American Accordionists' Association 80th Anniversary
    Holiday Inn Hotel and Suites, 625 First Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

umkc accordion orchestra

55 Accordions in Concert - the 1st UMKC Accordion Orchestra Concert in the Spring of 1961

Joan Cochran Sommers has directed the world famous University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) Accordion Orchestra since it formed almost 50 years ago, when she established the accordion program at UMKC in 1961.
During its long history, the UMKC Accordion Orchestra has won many national titles in the USA, and toured to such places as Germany, Switzerland, Austria, England, Scotland, Sweden, Denmark, Russia, Estonia, New Zealand, Australia, Hungary, Czech Republic and Italy.
The orchestra presents regular concerts at the University and has made guest appearances at national festivals and other important engagements throughout the United States.
Highlights include appearances with the Kansas City Symphony, the Kansas City Civic Symphony Orchestra, and at the American Accordionists Association, the Accordionists and Teachers Guild, International, and the Accordion Federation of North America Annual Festivals.

Concert repertoire includes original accordion orchestra music, orchestral transcriptions, Broadway Music, Jazz and popular favorites. The UMKC Accordion Orchestra members consist of UMKC students, graduates, alumni and special guests who accompany the orchestra when on tour.
The Annual Spring Concert of the UMKC Accordion Orchestra on May 22, 2011 marked the 50th Anniversary and final concert of the UMKC Accordion Orchestra which gave its first University Recital in the Spring of 1961.

The 40th Anniversary Concert on 29th April, 2001 marked the the retirement of Joan Sommers from the Conservatory therefore making this concert the last official concert of the UMKC Accordion Orchestra. From that time on, the orchestra continued to rehearse and perform at the University under the name of the UMKC Community Accordion Orchestra. At this time, in conjunction with this 40th Anniversary Concert, the UMKC Accordion Orchestra released a set of six CD's highlighting the 40 years of accordion greatness.

The 40th Anniversary Program - 29 April, 2001

  • Hebrides Overture (Fingal's Cave, Op. 26) - Felix Mendelssohn
  • Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 - Franz Liszt
  • Scheherazade, (IV) Festival at Bagdad - Nicolas Rimsky-Korsakov
  • Ballet Tango, Lidia Kaminska/Betty Jo Simon, Soloists - Astor Piazzolla
    (1) Introduction (avec rage) Joyeux et viril (2) La cite
    (3) L'Amour (Avec rage... mais avec amour) (4) Cabaret (avec rage)
    (5) Violent (6) Solitude (7) Finale (Violent et Raguer)
    (8) Grand Final (Avec toute la Rage du monde)
  • Serenata - Leroy Anderson
  • Tango Medley (Three world famous tangos) - Hans Boll
  • "Out of Crooked Timber..." (Lidia Kaminska, Soloist) - Paul Rudy
  • Galop from "Jeux d'enfants" Op. 22 - Georges Bizet
  • Harlekinaden, Three Burlesque Dances - Adolf Gotz
    (1) Burlesque (2) Valse Comique (3) Jeuz Capricieuxs
  • Finlandia, Tone Poem, Op. 26, No. 7 - Jean Sibelius
UMKC Accordion Orchestra, Joan C. Sommers, Director
Lidia Kaminska, Shanxi Upsdell, Robbie Overton, Edwin J. Cole, Erica Van de Voort, Sherri Delmont, Betty Jo Simon, Megumi Miyata,
Gail Overly, Sherri Carroll, Jennifer Thompson, Trish Benedict, Kevin Friedrich, Sam McGhee, Jocelyn (Joy) Grooms,
Christine Jarquio, Catherine Sommers, Cathy Weiss, Jason Stephen, Dee Sligar, Joyce Davis, Phillip Hodges, Dan McGhee,
Amy Hayes, Percussion: Liz Stephens, Tom Kernan, Christian Lowsley.
  • Lawrence of Arabia - Maurice Jarre
  • The Stars and Stripes Forever March - John Philip Sousa

UMKC Accordion Orchestra, Joan C. Sommers - Director,
along with formerUMKC Accordion Orchestra Members

In addition to numerous national and International tours, the UMKC Community Accordion Orchestra performed at the 100th Anniversary Celebrations of the UMKC Conservatory of Music and in 2007 at the 60th Anniversary Coupe Mondiale in Washington DC, where they performed at both the festival headquarters Hotel and also at the famed Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Although the 50th Anniversary Concert marked the final concert of the UMKC Accordion Orchestra, attracting many alumni from across the country to rejoin the group to celebrate this historical event, Joan Cochran Sommers will continue to organize and present accordion concerts of various genres including smaller ensembles and chamber groups made up of former UMKC Accordion orchestra members. She also looks forward to working on behalf of the accordion as she travels the world adjudicating and directing orchestras at various national and international events.
It might be of interest to note the UMKC Accordionaires and the Accordion Orchestra have had several successful marriages take place among its members. We believe it quite remarkable that these students met while in school, fell in love, eventually married and are still together today. These couples are
Ron and Judy (Singmaster) Barrow, Ed and Kathy (King) Blasco. Larry and Charla (Edmiston) Manica, Jeff and Pam (Kelsay) Lisenby, Hollis and Nancy (Pace) Officer, Mark and Lou (Kupersmith) Weston and Juha and Julie (Gettler) Silfverberg.
For a full review of the 50th Annivesary Celebrations, please visit the review pages.

The UMKC Accordion Orchestra in 1980 at the CIA Coupe Mondiale Festival held in Kansas City
The 50th Anniversary UMKC Accordion Orchestra, 2011

joan sommers director

joan sommersJoan Sommers is sought after as a performer, conductor, clinician, adjudicator and musical director for major accordion festivals throughout the world, such as those in China, Poland, Norway, Europe, New Zealand and Australia.

Joan is the immediate Past President of the Accordionists and Teachers Guild, International, marking the third time she has led this esteemed International organization which is affilitaed with the International Music Council (IMC) - UNESCO.

Internationally, Joan is the Vice President of the Music Committee of the Confederation Internationale des Accordeonistes, at which she also serves as an jury member on many occasions.

Joan earned the right to represent the USA in the Coupe Mondiale in both 1955 and 1956, which undoubtedly developed her interest in worldwide accordion activities. Joan has since been honored numerous times by both national and international accordion organizations, as well as other musical organizations for her ongoing dedication and contributions to the field of music.

As a performer, she uses the piano accordion, but she teaches all types of systems. Her students play both chromatic and keyboard instruments with various configurations.

Her students have won numerous top awards, including the United States Championship Competitions and have been candidates to the Coupe Mondiale World Accordion Championships on many different occasions over a long period of time. Some of the most outstanding accordion professionals, both men and women, have been her students and have earned music degrees at the UMKC Conservatory of Music.

01 An American in Paris, George Gershwin
02 March of the Boyars, Johan Halvorsen
03 Dance of the Clowns, N. Rimsky-Korsakov
04 Zar und Zimmermann Overture, Albert Lortzing
05 Solińa, Jeff Lisenby
06 Syncopated Clock, Leroy Anderson
07 Spanish Dance, No. 1, Manuel de Falla
08 A Portrait, R. Rodgers & O. Hammerstein
09-11 Evocations for Accordion Orchestra/Percussion, Jindrich Feld
12-17 Die Galerie (The Picture Gallery), Heinz Ehme
18 Dance of the Comedians, Bedrich Smetana
01 Capriccio Espagnol (Excerpts), N. Rimsky-Korsakov
02 Novitango, Astor Piazzolla
03 Perpetual Motion, J. Strauss, Jr.
04 Miss Saigon Medley, Claude-Michel Schönberg
05-06 Prelude and Fugue in G, BWV 541, J.S. Bach
07 Rhapsodie Andalusia (Spanish Impressions), Adolf Götz
08 Nocturne, Alexander Borodin
09 Granada Fantasia Espanola, Augustin Lara
10 MUSIC, John Miles
11 Fiddler on the Roof Medley, J. Bock & S Harnick
01 Medley, George Gershwin
02 Danse, Claude Debussy
03 West Side Story Medley, Leonard Bernstein
04 Inmortal, In memory of Astor Piazzolla, Hans Boll
05 Zirkus Zirkus, Adolf Götz
06 Two Roumanian Dances, Béla Bartók
07 Beautiful Galatea Overture, Franz von Suppé
08 Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, Franz Liszt
01 Ouverture Furiant, Adolf Götz
02 Tribute to "The Duke", Arr. E. Finch
03 Sunset Boulevard, Hans-Gunther Kölz
04 Romantische Festouverture, Heinz Ehme
05 Lesginka from Gayane Ballet, Aram Khachaturian
06 Habanera from Die Kanonade, Eduardas Balsys
07 Kynaston, John Franceschina
08 Carnival, Amy Jo Sawyer
09 Tema Russo from Serenade for Strings, P. Tschaikovsky
10 The Lord of the Dance, Ronan Padraig Hardiman
01 Werziade, Fritz Dobler
02 Medley from "E.T.", The Extra-Terrestrial, John Williams
03 Fantasia Iberica, Gerhard Mohr
04 Porgy and Bess Concert Suite, George Gershwin
05 Aida (Ballet and Chorus), Giuseppe Verdi
06 Mississippi Suite, Ferde Grofé
07 Overture to William Tell, G. Rossini
01 Sinfonisches Suite (Allegro con brio), Wolfgang Jacobi
02 March in Bb, Op. 99, Sergei Prokofiev
03 The Moldau Symphonic Poem, Bedrich Smetana
04 Burleske, Ludwig Kletsch
05 Balkan Impressions, Gerhard Mohr
06 Opus 5-6-4, Amy Jo Sawyer
07 Procession of the Sardar, Michail Ippolitov-Ivanov
08 Les Filles de Cadiz, Delibes
09 I Could Have Danced All Night, Lerner & Loewe
10 Capriccio Italien, Op. 45, P. Tchaikovsky
11-12 Suite for Accordion Orchestra, Rudolf Bruci
13 La Gazza Ladra Overture, G. Rossini

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

Phone: (913) 722-5625