Festhalle 2018 Performers
Note: Special Performances each evening by Leavenworth Open competition winners.
See Festhalle Schedule for details

Thursday - June 21, 2018


Alicia Baker
Alicia Baker is a classically trained accordionist, pianist, and singer from Portland, OR, currently residing in Denver, CO. She has performed on various stages, from the operatic stage to the headlining spot at accordion festivals. Alicia has explored her many avenues of musical ability in both performance and educational venues. She received 3 bachelor of music degrees from Oregon State University, including piano performance, vocal performance, and choral education, in addition to a Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy from University of Colorado Boulder in 2017. Alicia has won many notable accordion awards including winning the Leavenworth Open category in 2013. Alicia’s repertoire spans a wide variety of musical genres amongst her instruments, including french musettes, jazz standards, gypsy jazz, Parisienne jazz, opera, folk songs, polkas, contemporary, classical, techno and popular hits throughout the decades. Alicia has been working with Roland corporation since 2009 when she competed in the International V-accordion Competition. She now serves as a full-time product specialist, demonstrator, and clinician on Roland digital pianos and V-accordions, in addition to performing frequently at jazz bars around Denver, and as a headlining soloist at music festivals and events around the world.

Ken Olendorf Tribute Band

Ken Olendorf  (October 1, 1934 - October 21, 2011) was a musician of exceptional quality and range. He left a legacy of jazz, fine music and arrangements that will linger for a long time to come. He founded the Northwest Accordion Society and started the quarterly magazine in 1991. Ken was a virtuoso accordionist, pianist, and teacher.

This year, LIAC is excited to honor Ken by playing tunes from his wide ranging repertoires. They will be performed by musicians who had the honor of knowing Ken, performing with Ken, and studying with Ken.

From left: John Giuliani (bass), Dan Wickham (horns), Lionel Kramer (drums), Allen Sanders (accordion), and Bonnie Birch (accordion).



Gazebo Ensemble

For many years, LIAC has wrapped up its Friday and Saturday gazebo performances with a spontaneous group of accordionists playing Leavenworth favorites. The group was first led by Rick Hatley and more recently by Jim O’Brien. Sheet music is provided and posted on the LIAC website. The group is performing magnificently and this year they will put on a mini-concert on Thursday evening in the Festhalle. There will be a rehearsal Thursday afternoon in the Grange at 3pm led by Jim. We look forward to their first Festhalle performance.


Friday - June 22, 2018


Murl Allen Sanders
Murl Allen Sanders is a musician, composer, teacher and recording artist who is active in the Seattle area music scene and across the United States, Canada, England, Brazil and Japan. Murl has worked with such diverse artists as Chuck Berry, Etta James, Il Divo, Glenn Yarbrough, Seattle Symphony, Seattle Modern Orchestra, accordion virtuosi Frank Marocco, Chico Chagas, Stas Venglevski, Alex Meixner, Gary Blair and Cory Pesaturo, among many others.

Murl teaches piano and accordion privately and is also adjunct faculty at Cornish College of the Arts and Shoreline Community College in Seattle. He has received two grants from The Seattle Mayor’s Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs to compose “She Blows Hot and Cold” for chorus and symphony orchestra which premiered May 2, 2010 and a grant to compose his “Accordion Concerto #2” which premiered
in 2007 with Orchestra Seattle/Seattle Chamber Singers. His “Accordion Concerto #1”, a commission from Orchestra Seattle/Seattle Chamber Singers, premiered in 2003. Murl received a 2010 and 2009 ASCAP plus award for his concert compositions from The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.
Recent appearances include:
Seattle Symphony “Music Beyond Borders” Concert 2017
International Festival Da Sanfona, Juazeiro, Brazil 2016
Accordionists and Teachers Guild Festival, Chicago 2017
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil with Chico Chagas
Earshot Jazz Festival


Bruce Gassman
Bruce’s extensive accordion background began at age 9. He performed his
first Senior Recital at age 11 and at the age of 13 he competed and won the National Boy's Club of America Music Scholarship Award. For the next 4 years he studied with Maestro Joseph Biviano of New York City. In 1962, at the age of 15, Bruce became the youngest member of the Accordion Symphony Society of NY, and at his first concert in December of that year; they performed at Town Hall featuring the immortal Charles Magnante.

While in college, and playing rock & roll, he toured the Mid-West with the Escorts, Doc & the MD's and The Broadway Clique. Once back East, playing Hammond B-3 and Fender Rhodes piano, Jersey Shore rock scene experience involved performances at many area night clubs, he jammed with stars such as the late B.B. King and future stars including Bruce Springsteen Returning to his accordion roots in 1974, he formed The Bruce Gassman Orchestra and for the next 18 years Bruce performed at more than 2,500 private parties. In 1992 he stopped playing to focus on his family and his real estate career.
After a 15 year sabbatical, he started the come-back. Bruce joined Dan Desiderio and the Accordion Pops Orchestra; and then in 2008 became the first accordionist ever to perform with Holiday Express, a group of more than 100 professional musicians and 1,500 volunteers who, from Thanksgiving till Christmas, bring the gift of human kindness to those less fortunate
Since 2009, Bruce has presented workshops, conducted and been a featured performer at numerous accordion clubs, conventions and festivals.

Saturday, June 23, 2018


Michael Bridge
Concert-accordionist Michael Bridge is internationally renowned for his warm, engaging stage-presence and outstanding musical versatility. Named one of Canada’s “30 Hot Classical Musicians Under 30” by CBC, his repertoire – baroque & classical masterworks, world folk music, jazz standards, and digital accordion – smashes all accordion stereotypes.

He made his solo orchestral debut with the Boston Pops at 17, and has performed on four continents, now playing over 100 concerts per year. He received his undergraduate and master’s degrees in accordion performance from the University of Toronto, where he his now pursuing his doctorate with Joseph Macerollo. He was awarded the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta’s Emerging Artist Award, and is a winner of the University of Toronto Concerto Competition and the Calgary Stampede Talent Search.

A believer in the critical nature of developing new music for accordion, he has commissioned and/or premiered over 50 chamber and solo works. He has adjudicated accordion competitions and taught master classes across the USA and Canada and is passionate about advancing accordion pedagogy for the next generation.


Cory Pesaturo (“C Pez”)

Cory Pesaturo (“C Pez”) is one the forefront of the accordion world, pushing the boundaries on multiple fronts of what is possible with the accordion. The only person to ever win a World Championship on Acoustic, Digital And Jazz Accordion, and is the only recent graduate of the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, MA. Pesaturo is also a Guinness World Record Holder, as RedBull® flew him to Austria to break the Marathon Accordion Record in 2017, in which Cory played the accordion over 32 hours. Accordions most famous legend, Dick Contino, said when Cory was only 15, “Of all the accordionists I’ve seen over the years, Cory is the one to pass the torch to, the only one who has all the tools to bring the accordion back to its former glory.”  Cory’s main contribution is his visionary thinking of how the accordion should be used, played, taught, and presented in modern music. Pesaturo is additionally developing his own electric accordion.

Pesaturo's extensive resumé includes appearances at the White House for President and Mrs. Clinton on 4 different occasions, starting at age 12, and 8 other appearances for the Clintons since 2000, along with 14 letters from the first family.   Some TV appearances include the Late Show with David Letterman playing with Johnny Depp, the Columbus parade in NYC, and nationally televised programs in New Zealand, Canada, Italy, Tunisia, France, and Finland.
Pesaturo is also heavily involved and respected with the weather and motor sports worlds as well. From 2005 to 2006, he composed the Official list of records set by the record-breaking 2005 Atlantic hurricane season and also wrote the lists for the 2007 and 2008 Seasons as well.


LIAC Jam Dance Band

Enjoy dancing or just listening to the LIAC Jam Dance Band. We will play a selection of polkas, waltzes, fox trots, swing, and Latin rhythms for your dancing pleasure. The band consists of a combination of professional accordion players and volunteer players who would like to sit-in.
A list of tunes and their keys will be provided. When at LIAC, see band leaders Bonnie Birch or Toby Hanson for a copy of the program. Players should be comfortable playing without music or a formal arrangement.


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