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2011 Frank Marocco Accordion Event

FMAE Event Directors:  Joan & Dan Grauman
Music Director and conductor:  Frank Marocco
Assistant Musical Director:  Stas Venglevski
Sound Engineer/Photography:  Bruce Lawrie
Videographer:  Mike Roche

2011 Frank Marocco Accordion Event Report

.....Accordionists’ Dreams Come True!
by Rita Davidson

Accordionists are a special type of people. If you are one, you automatically know what I mean.

We are people who love the accordion…. playing it, attending concerts, learning about it, socializing and performing with people who like accordions….. and we are accordion groupies and we worship the amazingly gifted ones…….. such as 80 year old jazz artist, Frank Marocco.

Then there are those who are not only all of the above but are even more. I am talking about Joan and Dan Grauman, who have a special gift of making friends and bringing them all together on "Planet Accordion", which happened to be in Mesa, Arizona.

Left to Right Bob Vitale, Marilyn O'Neil, Terri_Rosen, Lenny Feldmann

Left to Right: Bob Vitale, Marilyn O'Neil, Terri_Rosen, Lenny Feldmann. Lenny was entertaining the 2011 FMAE participants during registration.

This was the fifth year that we and our accordions reunited with accordion friends from all over the North American continent and Europe! Even new people, who had never attended before, found instant camaraderie at the 2011 Frank Marocco Accordion Event (FMAE).

First Night Rehearsal

First Night Rehearsal - everyone listening to the opening night announcements.

What makes this all so special is the fact that no matter what musical level an accordionist may be on, be it humble beginner or professional artist, we are all accepting of each other’s capabilities. We all love to play the accordion!

Accordion repair workshop by Elke Ahrenholz

Accordion repair workshop by Elke Ahrenholz

The festivities began with a gathering in the lobby of the Best Western Dobson Ranch Inn in Mesa, Arizona. We were there to meet each other and greet Frank Marocco, when he walked in. Lenny Feldmann, a fine accordionist from New York and an AAA Board member, delighted all with his playing as we all socialized, greeting new and old friends. Frank walked in and we all sang "Happy Birthday" to him. From that moment on, it was nonstop “accordionizing”!

Dr. Ian Blair Fries
Dr. Ian Blair Fries giving a workshop on the accordionist’s hand.

60 accordionists plus another 40 spouses and friends came together for a common purpose…. to listen to and/or perform in the FMAE Accordion Orchestra, attend workshops, and to honor Frank Marocco on his 80th birthday. Who would believe he was 80? Not me or anyone else.

Frank plays the bayan as Stas conducts
Rehearsal: Frank plays the bayan as Stas conducts

He devoted four days to conducting the orchestra, giving workshops, and lessons, and performing for us in both formal and informal settings.

Anne & Frank Marocco and granddaughter Lindsey DiBlasi

Anne & Frank Marocco and granddaughter Lindsey DiBlasi. Lindsey DiBlasi was narrating a slide show about the life of her grandfather.

A most special treat was having world class Jazz Artist Eddie Monteiro there to perform solos during the concerts and, a really special treat, to hear Frank and Eddie improvise together. It doesn't get much better than that!

Frank Marocco then and now.

Frank Marocco then and now. Frank Marocco addressing the guests after the slideshow.

We were also delighted that Bayan artist, Stas Venglevski, was there as Assistant Music Director and Assistant Conductor to lead the orchestra, give workshops, lessons, and graciously perform/jam with many FMAE participants including virtuoso accordionist Vladimir Mollov (See article in this issue about him).

Standing ovation for Stas Venglevski & Vladimir Mollov

Standing ovation for Stas Venglevski & Vladimir Mollov

John Simkus from the Chicago area played bass accordion and created unique improvisations with Stas and Vladimir. Gabe Hall-Rodriguezs, the current AAA Virtuoso Accordion Champion , and his musical friends, Sean Brogan (bass) and Austen Mack (drums) were thrilled to have the opportunity to perform together on various programs with Frank, Stas, and John.

Stas Venglevski, Gabe Hall-Rodrigues, Sean_Brogan, Austen Mack, John Simkus
Left to Right: Stas Venglevski, Gabe Hall-Rodrigues, Sean_Brogan, Austen Mack, John Simkus. Newly formed quintet performing for Frank during his birthday party.

Amy Jo Sawyer charmed all with her arrangements performed by the FMAE orchestra and impressed all with her improvisation abilities.

Eddie Monteiro & Frank Marocco

Eddie Monteiro & Frank Marocco

Our accordion group is truly an intergenerational and international group of accordionists! The youngest member was Lisa Breccia (12). She attended with her 15-year old brother, Martin, and mother, Elke Ahrenholz, co-owner of Victoria Accordions, all the way from Castelfidardo, Italy. Elke is a wealth of accordion information from the inside out! Her workshop was a demonstration of the inner workings of our beloved instrument and the minor repairs we might do ourselves.

Bruce Lawrie, Mike Roche, Frank Marocco, Joan & Dan Grauman, Stas Venglevski

Left to Right: The Frank Marocco Accordion Event staff: Bruce Lawrie (sound engineer & photographer), Mike Roche (videographer), Frank Marocco (music director & conductor), Joan & Dan Grauman (event directors), Stas Venglevski (assistant music director)

Dr. Ian Blair Fries, an accordionist and noted orthopedic surgeon, presented a wonderful workshop in which he reminded us all of the need to always be careful with our hands.

Rita Davidson, Manny Bobenrieth, Marilyn O'Neil, Joan Grauman, Lenny Feldmann, Eddie Monteiro

Left to Right: American Accordionists’ Association Governing Board members. Rita Davidson, Manny Bobenrieth, Marilyn O'Neil, Joan Grauman, Lenny Feldmann, Eddie Monteiro

A new generation is moving forward to continue bringing accordion enjoyment to the world. Enjoying the accordion and bringing it to a young, hip, and interested groups of people.

What better ambassadors of the accordion could there be? We were happy to hear accordionist Gabe Hall-Rodriguezs accompanied by his friends, Sean and Austen during their many performances. Please read the article in this USA News issue about them written by AAA Board member, Marilyn O'Neill.

Dan Grauman, Manny Bobenrieth, Frank Marocco, Joan Grauman

Left to Right: Dan Grauman, Manny Bobenrieth, Frank Marocco, Joan Grauman. Frank Marocco admiring flag that flew over the US Capitol, presented to him by Manny Bobenrieth.

We came to play and hear accordionists of all kinds, and it was an accordionist’s' dream come true. Beautiful luncheons with wonderful solos and duets by the FMAE participants and guest artists insured that we would leave the table with our hunger for delicious food and great music, satisfied.

Martin & Lisa Breccia, Frank Marocco, Elke Ahrenholz

Frank with his manager, Elke Ahrenholz, and her children Martin and Lisa, who came all the way from Castelfidardo, Italy

Saturday evening was the 80th birthday celebration honoring Frank Marocco. Most
members of his family were there, and two of his lovely and talented granddaughters
sang and played guitar for him, and another granddaughter surprised him and delighted
us all with an excellent slide show of his first 80 years on the program that evening
including his lovely granddaughters who surprised him with songs.

2011 FMAE participants & mascots
2011 FMAE participants & mascots

Frank received great honors, letters, plaques from Arnold Schwartzenegger, former Governor of California; a flag that flew over the Capitol in Washington, DC on Frank’s birthday in his honor, and a special certificate blessing from the Pope!!

The special birthday accordion cake that was presented to Frank which Joan and Dan arranged for, was baked “accordion”ingly to musical and culinary specifications! Frank was entertained by numerous FMAE participants.

Everyone who attended left the FMAE with very special memories, new ideas, new friends, an encouraging and newly renewed enthusiasm for learning and performing and a huge amount of gratitude to the devoted FMAE organizers, Joan and Dan Grauman.

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