15th Las Vegas International Accordion Convention - A GRAND SUCCESS!
The excitement started at 3 PM August 18 as the crowd of attendees started to form lines to pick up their registration packet including full color program book, convention tote bag and lanyard ID.  Included for every attendee was a free soft drink at Club Concerto to be enjoyed while listening to the wonderful sounds of Gina Brannelli performing and singing.  The event kicked off a wonderful week of entertainment, education and fun!

Our welcome concert featured world-renowned accordionists Peter Soave and Mary Tokarski followed by Mr. Entertainment himself, Dick Contino, with band members Corky Bennett, Pete Contino and Bob Sax, for a phenomenal opening of the event.  Then it was off to Club Concerto for an after hours event where anyone could be a star on stage!

Over 40 classes were offered during the next three full days of the event.  The first morning offered three classes to choose from each hour.  Then at noon we gathered in the main ballroom just across the hall from classes and enjoyed lunch with the delightful music of Gordon Kohl. This was followed by a concert featuring “Of One Accord”, a 10 piece accordion ensemble from Alberta Canada directed by Margaret Miller. What a joy to hear their wide-ranging program. Then it was back to classes and the first rehearsal of the International Accordion Orchestra with Professor Joan Cochran Sommers! That evening was a night to remember! It started with a wonderful dinner of beef tenderloin and salmon paired together and although the tiramisu was a wonderful dessert, the music that followed was far sweeter! Alicia Baker wowed the audience to no end and she concluded her set by bringing Michael Bridge up onto the stage. The two were incredible! Then to make the evening even more like sweet heaven, Stas Venglevski, our 2014 Honorary Conductor performed with his flawless and inimitable charismatic style only to be eclipsed by the duets he performed with Joan Cochran Sommers! That evening the presentations were made to Stas as Honorary Conductor and a special Lifetime Achievement Award to Gina Brannelli! Wow, what a night! Everyone was a buzz at Club Concerto afterwards!

Wednesday was another day full of wonderful classes with lunch music by Chuck Henry followed by a short performance by event organizer Paul Pasquali. Then our current and past honorary conductors came up after lunch for an hour-long question and answer session that seemed to fly by. That evening, after more fun filled classes and rehearsals, we had dancing with the music of Gordon Kohl and Chuck Henry – followed by our parade of costumes. Best Costume award went to Mary Thomson. Her Victorian period costume was amazing! The night continued with a jazz accordion set by Ron Borelli from San Francisco. This was followed by an unforgettable concert with Joey Miskulin who was backed by bass, drums and clarinet. Another night filled with fun and excitement – which showed by the attendance at Club Concerto after hours where the party continued!

Thursday the day was filled with people buzzing around to all the exciting classes. Lunch brought us the beautiful music of Elena & Gregory Fainshtein that left the audience wanting more. Our friend Pete Barbutti followed and made everyone laugh with his signature brand of humor. Pete even played a song on his cigar – what a fun time! That evening the gala concert started with a best-dressed competition - first place was awarded to Walter Gomez! Thursday evening Pete Barbutti was our Master of Ceremonies. The concert started with Michael Bridge, who demonstrated his vast talent by playing almost every style of music imaginable. Michael received several standing ovations. Then the orchestra took the stage. This writer will tell you that this was an incredible performance that brought everyone to his or her feet with a standing ovation befitting a super star! Professor Joan Cochran Sommers totally amazed and wowed the audience with a varied program that can only be described as glorious! A true example that there is nothing like live music done right! After the concert most everyone could be found at Club Concerto saying goodbye to friends, new and old. Many said this was the BEST event YET – which was evidenced by the huge percentage of people in line who registered for the June 22, 2015 event! We hope to see all of you again at next year’s convention.
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