Music Professor Gives Students a Chance to Succeed with ‘Frank and Friends’ Concert

Written by Megan De Lara, Arts and Entertainment Editor

If one were to ask Professor Frank Accardo the year “Frank and Friends” started, there would be no definite answer. However, he could easily state why he brings it back year after year: for the students.

“We don’t really have a guitar ensemble or a guitar studio class where [students] have to perform at the end of the semester. So I thought it would be nice for them to get a chance to perform a piece or two, especially…the people playing classical guitar.” Accardo said. “But basically that’s what it was, to give people an opportunity to perform.”

Learn to perform by performing

Megan De Lara
Rio Hondo alumni Juan Sixto performs ‘Danza Characteristica’ by Leo Brouwer.

So on Nov. 12, Accardo invited a select group of past and present students to perform in the Wray Theater.

For an hour, the musicians played acoustic and electric renditions of compositions by J.S. Bach, Francisco Tarrega, and Mauro Giuliani, to name a few about which you can read here. The stage set-up consisted of two amplifiers, a pair of microphones to intensify the acoustic sounds, and some chairs and music stands.

Accardo himself started off the night with “Prelude for Lute, BWV 999” by Bach. After, first-time performer Paul Pardinas sat down to play “Sonatine 1” by Giuliani. It was a smooth performance that set the tone for the rest of the night.

“It gets cold when you’re nervous,” said alumni Juan Sixto as he rubbed his hands together to prepare for his second song.

Though nerves may have been at a high, the musicians kept their composure throughout the night. Both Sixto and Samantha Valadez, another alumni, made fingerpicking look simple as they demonstrated their prowess.

Megan De Lara
Samantha Valadez on stage in the Wray Theater during her performance on Nov. 12.

Halfway through, the concert shifted from acoustic to a clean (sans any effects), electric set. Students Miguel Sandoval and Jacob Diaz played Bach Inventions No. 4 and 8, and Accardo revisited the stage with alumni Tina Kung to execute bossa nova arrangements.

At the end of the night, Diaz and current student Xavier Pavon joined Accardo for one last performance. With Pavon on bass, it was the right amount of zest to recapture the audience’s attention. All three had undeniable chemistry, which translated into an electrifying close that brought the concert to full circle.

Megan De Lara
Professor Accardo, Jacob Diaz and Xavier Pavon close out the show.

Teaching from experience

The importance of learning to perform in front of an audience is crucial, according to Accardo. Student musicians who wish to reach a professional level must break the walls of nervousness. Performing in front of a crowd is one way to accomplish the task.

“The whole nerves thing is really what you have to overcome,” Accardo said. “Just be nervous.”

The music professor, of course, speaks from years of experience.

In his early days as a guitarist, Accardo freelanced and took part in light session work in Los Angeles. There were cabaret shows in Hollywood, small live performances here and there, but nothing too extravagant. Not until he received the opportunity to work with prominent musician and entertainer Sammy Davis Jr.

The three week gig was originally offered to someone else, but unlike now, the opportunity to travel was not always coveted.

“In those days, going out on the road was the last resort kind of thing, because most people wanted to establish a career in town playing,” Accardo said. “It was really a different time… Most people didn’t want to leave…because they would lose gigs that were right there, steady gigs in town.”

So Accardo took the spot instead, but the position came with its challenges. Rehearsal time before opening night was scarce:

“My opening night was essentially my rehearsal.”

Regardless, Accardo played and ended up making an impression on George Rhodes, Davis Jr.’s longtime music director. After the initial three weeks ended, Rhodes asked Accardo to stay and the small gig turned into a ten year residency.

“You have to just have the confidence that you really know this stuff and you’re going to be fine,” Accardo said.

With the continuation of his annual concert, students will always have the opportunity to pave their road to successful musicianship. If you’re interested in a student violin, we recommend you check out these top violin brands according to Fiddlersguide.