Ask Dick Albreski nearly anything about accordions, and he will know the answer.
Based on nearly 70 years of performing, teaching and repairing accordions, the Oklahoma City musician can explain proper technique and care for the instrument, where the best ones are made (Italy), music that can be played on the accordion (any kind), and prices ($400 to nearly $12,000).
Just don’t bother telling him an accordion joke.
“I don’t care for accordion jokes,” he said. “I take the accordion very seriously.”
Albreski, 76, is one of more than 100 accordion enthusiasts in Oklahoma City.
Fourteen years ago, he and seven other musicians formed the Oklahoma Accordion Club, a group dedicated to helping its members improve their playing and to advancing appreciation for the sometimes-maligned instrument.
The club now has about 60 members who meet monthly — to rehearse, conduct business and listen to their fellow accordionists play.
The most recent club meeting served as a dress rehearsal for their annual showcase concert set for next month in Norman.
Barbara Duer, the group’s president, said the concert will feature club members in accordion solos, duets, trios and quartets.
“We had standing room only last year, and we are expecting a good crowd again this year,” she said.
In and out of popularity
Duer, 71, said she grew up in Pennsylvania, where the accordion was popular, and began playing when she was 10. She said she stopped playing several years ago when the instrument fell out of popularity, turning to the classical guitar.
In its heyday, she said, the accordion was widely accepted as a performance instrument, its popularity enhanced by bandleader Lawrence Welk and his long-running television show that featured accordion virtuoso Myron Floren.
Duer thinks the instrument is gaining acceptance again, and she is happy she decided to resume playing. Particularly appealing to her is Klezmer music, the Jewish folk music of eastern Europe in which the accordion is a staple instrument.
“Every country in the world has the accordion in its music,” Duer said. “You can play any type of music on it. With an accordion, you have an entire orchestra.”
A nursing instructor at Rose State College, Duer said the local accordion club has value beyond music.
“It has been a new social group for me,” she said.
‘Something you hug’
Albreski performs throughout Oklahoma and several other states.
“I have been playing since I was 6,” he said. “It’s something I really enjoy.