This program, originally called simply The Youth Involvement Program, is the brainchild of AAA Board member Marilyn O'Neil. Created in 2011, the program pairs young accordionists between the ages of (roughly) 13 and 25 with peers who play other instruments. The non-accordionist youth are recruited from the area where the AAA's annual festival is held.
Music is distributed ahead of time. The youth come together at the festival to rehearse and perform at the awards ceremony. The group's primary focus has been jazz. It has given all of the young musicians an opportunity to expand their musical experience and learn how their respective instruments sound when performed in unison.
Since 2011, the group has performed under a number of esteemed conductors, including Eddie Monteiro, Joe Cerrito, Don Gerundo, Vladimir Mollov, and Bob Vitale. For the last 2 years, a former young participant and new AAA Board member, Mitch Guido, has taken up the baton and has been designated as permanent Conductor.
Last September, the program was renamed in honor of Waterbury native, jazz accordionist Bob Vitale, an active accordionist until his death in 2017. Bob was a beloved music teacher to hundreds of Waterbury area students, including Marilyn O'Neil.
For additional information, please contact Marilyn O'Neil at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The AAA Junior Orchestra was created in 2012 at the request of one of our youngest competition participants in 2011 - Cody McSherry. At the Farewell Breakfast meeting, he wanted to know why there was no orchestra for kids!!
Well, that sparked Mary Tokarski to organize the first-ever Junior Orchestra for the Festival in 2012. It was a smash. The Repertoire ever since has included movie themes, rock and roll, to accordion classics and classical, and we have had participants from around the world (New Zealand, Canada, Lithuania) in addition to our students from all over the United States. Each year, the participation has increased . . . not only in numbers, but in the quality and excellence of the final performances. After just 2 one-hour rehearsals (and sometimes 3), the orchestra has wowed the audiences at the Awards Concert each year since 2012.
The program continues, and we are expecting even more surprises in the next years, so stay tuned!
For additional information, please contact Mary Tokarski at: email@example.com
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