The Free-Reed Journal
Articles and Essays Featuring Classical Free-Reed Instruments and Performers

The Accordion Choir


This article was reprinted in its entirety from the October 1940 issue of Accordion World (New York).

The Piano-Accordion Church Choir of the studio is composed of two groups, Senior and Junior. The senior group has been engaged for the past two seasons in conducting musical services in more than sixty Protestant churches in Buffalo and vicinity. The junior choir is a preparatory group, composed of young players who learn simpler religious music to familiarize themselves with the religious style and to become accustomed to direction as a unit.

In the conducting of services in churches by the senior choir, it has proven that the work along religious lines is best shown by keeping the programs on a uniformly high standard. At all times the emotional side of the congregations worship is considered, and at no time is any tendency to do "missionary work" (commercial propagandizing) allowed to creep in.

The music used consists of standard and gospel hymns, and compositions by such composers as Bortimausky, Rach-maninoff, Bach, Purcell, Beethoven, Tschaikowsky, Handel and Palestrina. Motets, extended chorales, Negro spirituals and standard anthems make the highlights of the program, interspersed with hymns, and a scripture reading with musical background. All the music used by the choir is specially arranged by the director.

From the collected comments of ministers in the churches where the choir has played, accordion music reverently rendered helps direct the worship to a higher plane very rapidly, especially by use early in the service of a scripture reading with suitable background played by the choir. This immediately focuses the congregation's attention upon the fact that the instruments are being used simply as tools of worship, rather than as implements of virtuosity. Many ministers have expressed to their congregations a wish for the formation of a choir in their church.

The congregation's immediate reaction is to regard the accordion choir as a novelty, and this usually lasts until the first number on the program is concluded. After that, the attitude is changed to one of reverent enjoyment of the music. As one person exclaimed at the conclusion of a service "I never knew such heavenly music could come from an accordion". This, of course, is do to the fact that few people understand what serious music is now being attempted on the accordion. Most people extend themselves to say what a spiritual lift has been obtained from the service, and many are the return invitations received.

Considering all factors involved, choir, congregation, minister, and the studio supporting the choir, a direct and positive benefit is obtained through the use of accordion music in churches, and from all signs it seems that the accordion as an instrument of religious expression is here to stay.

The accordions religious instrument is used by all denominations, including Catholic, Presbyterian, Jewish and others. It is of great assistance particularly in mission countries where an organ cannot be obtained due to the expense involved.

At the churches where our Accordion Church Choir performs, the minister usually suggests that we form a local choir in his Parish and is always glad to give us a list of names of children of his Sunday school, teachers, choir members and others whom, of course, we are at liberty to contact.

The Accordion Choir is not composed of professional players, not of "Star Pupils", but on the contrary is made up of a well balanced ensemble of eight students, who are keenly interested in church work.

Program covers are printed into which special programs for each appearance are inserted. Through the medium of the accordion, we are endeavoring to take a forward step in Christian work by adding to the. number of people who can participate in the musical life of the Christian community.

During the past twelve mouths, the group has played in churches for more than 5000 people. This does not include outside public appearances. The students who play in the choir benefit tremendously from the higher type of music and the parents receive a great deal of satisfaction.

A few of the selections used are
"Holy City" Atlams.
"Fin Feste Burg" Luther, 1529
"Happy and Best are They" - "St. Paul" Mendelsohn, 1809-1847.
"Now Thank We All Our God" -Bach.
"Pilgrim Song" - Tschaikowsky.
"0 Bone Jesti" - Palestrina, 1526-1594.

From a standpoint of general usefulness I find the accordion Choir is "tops". Crowned in inexpensive white robes and playing gleaming accordions, any group from two, to one hundred, will prove outstanding playing sacred numbers. By announcing that the program is presented in a spirit of reverence and that applause is not desired, the listeners whether they are a men's club, church group or theatre audience are put in a receptive mood for the beautiful harmony which only a group of accordions can produce. Arrange the parts so that all students, whether beginners or advanced players, may participate. If (as sometimes occurs,) the best students fail to show up, train second and third best to go on and thereby reap a few laurels which otherwise could never he theirs.

By all means an ACCORDION CHOIR for the benefit of teacher, student and the community at large.

The Classical Free-Reed, Inc. staff gratefully acknowledges volunteer Benjamin Lang who assisted in the production of this article, as well as Stanley Darrow and the comprehensive American Accordion Musicological Society library.

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