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Concert Review:

The Incredible Concertina
A Concert in Honor of Sir Charles Wheatstone
A Bicentiennial Celebration

Friday, April 12, 2002
Baisley Powell Elebash Recital Hall
The Graduate Center, CUNY
New York City

  1. Mainly Ireland
    1. Sean nos airs
    2. Bardic harp compositions
    3. Clan marches and dance music from the Gaelic tradition of Ireland and the Irish diaspora to North America
    4. Marches and dance tunes from Highland Scotland
    5. Jacobite airs
    6. Cape Breton Island
      1. Gearóid ÓhAllmhuráin, Anglo concertina
      2. Brendan Dolan, piano
  2. Victorian England
    1. Giulio Regondi: Leisure Moments
    2. Richard Blagrove: Morceaux
      1. Allan Atlas, English concertina
      2. David Cannata, piano
    3. George Alexander Macfarren: Romance
    4. Bernhard Molique: Sonata in Bb
      1. Wim Wakker, English concertina
      2. Paul R. Van der Reijden, piano
    5. Nicolò Paganini: Sonata in Em
      1. Allan Atlas & David Cannata
  3. Satire and Shanties
    1. Songs that evoke the salty seas and sudsy pubs, some traditional . . . Others not . . .
      1. David Cornell, MacCann Duet concertina
  4. The "New" Concertina Repertory
    1. Oliver Hunt: Song of the Sea
    2. Alla Borzova: Pinsk and Blue
      1. Wim Wakker and Paul R. Van der Reijden
  5. Anglo Concertina Traditions from England
    1. A cornucopia of dance tunes and songs from the rich and varied traditions of English folk music. Tunes associated with morris, sword, and maypole ritual dancing, as well as social country dancing. Though centuries old, these tunes and songs still form part of a living tradition, and can be heard in pubs and village greens throughout the English-speaking world.
      1. Jody Kruskal, Anglo Concertina
      2. Tom Kruskal, Anglo Conertina
    2. Pat Shaw: John Tallis's Canon / The Real Princess
      1. Allan Atlas, English concertina
      2. Jim Cowdery, pennywhistle
      3. David Cannata, piano
  6. South African Boeremusiek
    1. Waltz with Two Concertinas
    2. Klokkie Polka
    3. Ou Ryperd
    4. Portugese Waltz
    5. Skone Marie
    6. Ou Kierie Wals
      1. Séan Minnie, Anglo and MacCann Duet concertinas
      2. Stephann van Zyl, Anglo and Crane Duet concertinas
      3. Michael Rennie, violin
      4. Elizabeth Wollman, guitar
      5. David Cannata, piano
  7. Victorian England Revisited
    1. Gaetano Donizetti: La Fille du reggimento: Duo brillante
      1. Allan Atlas, Wim Wakker, David Cannata

Review by Henry Doktorski:

The Center For The Study Of Free-Reed Instruments (CSFRI) at The Graduate School and University Center of The City University of New York has done it again. Director Allan Atlas has consistently organized and executed exemplary events which cater to classical (and not so classical) free-reed lovers. Atlas explained, "the CSFRI is devoted to fostering and serving as a resource for scholarly research on all aspects—history, organology, iconography, sociology, repertory, performance practices, etc.—of all free-reed instruments, whether in the world of 'art music' or that of folk and pop traditions."

This recital (the fourth annual CSFRI event) was sold out! (How many free-reed concerts are SOLD OUT?) Concertina lovers came out in droves from across the Eastern seaboard (and farther) to witness an historic recital in honor of the inventor of the concertina, Sir Charles Wheatstone, for the celebration of his bicentennial (he was born in 1802).

I admit that classical is my favorite music, but verily I enjoyed ALL the performances. Atlas contracted some superb musicians for this nearly three-hour-long marathon concert. Each performer or group played about twenty to thirty minutes. I was overwhelmed by everyone.

I'll start with Allan Atlas himself. Although he doesn't have much time to practice the concertina due to his busy work schedule as professor at CUNY, he proved himself a virtuoso performer by tossing off several flashy Victorian selections including Donizetti's La Fille du reggimento. His short original cadenza was especially noteworthy, and the atmosphere was so relaxed that he joked about it during his performance! For a man normally steeped in academia, he sure let his hair down!

Concertina virtuoso Wim Wakker flew in from Holland that morning to perform several contemporary and Victorian original works for concertina and piano. Despite his jet lag, he performed precisely and articulately. His piano accompanist, Paul R. Van der Reijden, deserves special commendation; his playing was unusually sensitive and clear.

The folk performers were equally well-prepared. Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin performed Irish tunes on the Anglo concertina, Jody and Tom Kruskal performed, also on the Anglo, a medley of Morris dance tunes, and David Cornell brought the house down with his singing and playing sea shanties and other fun songs on the MacCann Duet concertina. What an entertainer! And a fine musician as well.

I wish I was as happy with the performances by the South African Boeremusiek contingency (several members who flew in from South Africa), but they were sadly unprepared and unrehearsed. Apparently several members of the ensemble had never met until that morning, which was unfortunate. I was, however, impressed with the confident and expert playing of Stephaan van Zyl on the Anglo and Crane Duet concertinas. He seemed to hold the ensemble together.

All in all, a delightful evening. I look forward to next year's CSFRI annual concert. For more information about The Center for the Study of Free-Reed Instruments, see

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