The Accordion Orchestra of Puerto Rico left San Juan,Puerto Rico on the 1st of
June at 7:40 AM. for Buenos Aires via Panama, arriving in Buenos Aires at 8.30
PM after an eleven hour trip!! It was no easy chore getting 12 accordions, drums
and a large box of percussion instruments on board. On arrival at our final destination
two accordions had been left at the airport in Panama City and were delivered
to the hotel on time for our first internal flight to Cordoba on 3rd June.
All of the activities of the First National and International Meeting of Accordionists - June 3-5 were held in Colonia Caroya, a province of Cordoba, which is 50 KM north of Cordoba, a 90 minute ride. Our group included 22 people so we sometimes required two buses, one for the instruments and one for the musicians and spouses who accompanied us.
We were greeted by Anibal Gomez, the president of the AIDA (Accordiones International de Argentina), at Montado, a permanent museum and Restaurant and Inn which has been maintained by the Copetti family since 1894, when Italians were encouraged to come to Argentina to do farming. A large number of Italian descendants remain there. For three days we were treated to all the local products - cheese, wine, hams, sausages and salamis for which the province is well known. Aside from eating with the family we were treated to their local music sung and played by members of the family, and we responded with Puerto Rican favorites.
Our first event was the clinic presented by Anibal Gomez on the history of the accordion and a description and demonstration of the midi by members of the AIDA and the Puerto Rico accordionists. The next day the workshop was led by Eugenia Bertieaux, the director of the PR Orchestra. She gave the history of music in Puerto Rico and the dances: Plenas, Rhumbas,Cha Cha, Mumbo, La Bomba Merengue, La Sies, demonstrated by our dancer/singer/MC - Jeannie Portalatin. This was followed by a demonstration of percussion used in Hispanic music, led by Cotono de Leon and Wilfredo Marini, drummer. This was followed by a performance by Ildo Patriarca, well known Argentinian accordionist.
The concerts at Colonia Caroya was held on Sunday, June 5th with a presentation of many of the members of the Argentinian Accordion Association playing in small groups for the enjoyment of the audience of the Fiesta. Also featured was a group of five young men known as the "Romoeciones" consisting of an accordion, a sax, a drum, tuba and guitar. The highlight of the festival was the concert presented by the Puerto Rican Accordion Orchestra. The repertoire consisted of mostly Latin American pieces and was received with a standing ovation.
The next day the accordions were shipped back to Buenos Aires for the next concerts, and the group went on a trip to Iguazu, the famous falls.
On our return to Buenos Aires we spent one evening at a Tango Club, first being taught the dance and then after dinner an evening of entertainment featuring Tango dancing.
The next day we traveled 100 KM to the Enstancia Bonita where we were treated to a typical meal and a show featuring traditional songs and dances. Two of our accordionists and our singer joined the Guachos in song and dance.
Our first concert in Buenos Aires was held at the Carlos Gardel Hall, sponsored by the Department of tourism and AIDA.