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NEWSLETTERS

OCTOBER 2005

The Accordion Seminars—Our Eleventh Year

By Dr. William Schimmel

 One of the main factors of the Tenri Cultural Institute’s performance space is its clean, white, spare room with high ceilings and fantastic acoustics. And for the past eleven years, we’ve been filling that space with every aspect of accordion music that exists. And then some. We hardly need amplification at Tenri—even the rock and roll artists have toned down their amplification and reveled in the natural acoustics at Tenri. The space makes the classical accordion warm and resonant. And for jazz, it helps bring out all the subtle nuances. You can feel the pulsations oozing out the walls. And for performance art, dance and theatre—it takes on a kabuki-like quality—embracing the storyteller and framing the experience. And when the weekend is over, the place is white and spare again. And we all go home—until next year.

  A new art exhibit goes up on the walls—rich, diverse and eclectic—much like our accordion seminars. I think we’ve been a good influence on the visual arts as well as the other musical arts. Many of our participants as well as audience members are in the visual arts and they’ve found that the accordion can add a great dimension to design as well as music. We’ve helped to put Tenri Cultural Institute on the New York cultural map and to give it a New York as well as an international cultural profile. We do the accordion seminars every year at the end of summer. We have classes and workshops in the afternoon and concerts at night. Our organization is the American Accordionists Association. The seminars have been featured on Channel 13’s City Arts and the Best of City Arts, WABC National News, WNYC’s Around New York, and National Public Radio’s National News. The New York Times, the New Yorker, Time Out New York, the New York Press and the New Music Connoisseur have widely publicized and reviewed our events. Last year, the accordion seminars and I were awarded the Distinguished Merit Award by the Confederatiuons Internationale Des Accordionistes for outstanding contribution to the international accordion scene. We’re happy and proud of this.

  I was also invited to present much of the accordion philosophies nurtured at the seminars to Microsoft in their attempt to revamp their global thinking; eg. Life is like an Accordion—A Bellow Pleated World Full of Ins and Outs.
I gave my first accordion solo recital at Tenri in 1994, while it was still back in the Guggenheim Museum building in Soho. The concert was well attended and reviewed by the New York Times. On the basis of its success, Dr. Albert Lotto suggested to me that the master class format may go well here at Tenri. I spoke to the American Accordionists Association, the world’s largest and most prestigious of accordion associations. I asked them if they would be interested in sponsoring and funding the event. They immediately saw the potential of such a yearly event in New York that they decided to get behind it to the fullest degree. And the rest is history. The accordion seminars are now a much anticipated New York cultural event—not just an accordion event.

  Our mission statement is threefold and simple: To present every aspect of accordion culture to the New York artistic community and to anyone else interested.
The accordion is the star.
This philosophy has been the backbone of the seminars and will continue to be so in the future.

  I thank my wife, Micki Goodman, for her support from the very beginning, knowing fully that it would occupy a great deal of my time and energy. Micki oversees the Seminar’s dramatic direction, does new choreographic and video work each year and gives master classes in health and fitness. Her tango/fitness seminar was featured on WABC’s National News with Barry Mitchell. It was filmed at Tenri. I’d like to thank some of the participants who were part of the original team and are still with us today, as energetic as ever: Paul Stein, Kathleen Tipton and Dr. Robert Young McMahan—each adding a valuable dimension to the success of the seminars. And, of course, our son, Michael Schimmel—a visual artist in his own right. Michael is 25 and has Down Syndrome.

  And lastly, I would like to thank Rev. Okui and the Tenri staff for allowing us to make Tenri the New York home for the seminars. And we look forward to more exciting educational and entertaining accordion seminars in the future.
Dr. William Schimmel holds BM, MS and DMA degrees from Julliard School. He and his wife, Micki Goodman, have co-founded the Institute for Private Studies which sponsors the Neupauer Conservatory Order of the Shield Program (a private studies graduate and post graduate program). Dr. Schimmel works in the areas of innovative research both in secular and liturgical forms.

 

 

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