Henry’s 1995 Cassette Classical Accordion Recital

Henry Doktorski at Heinz Hall, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1996).

My relationship with Pittsburgh Pennsylvania’s classical music radio station, WQED-FM, goes back to December 1993 when I was living with a couple of friends on the North Side of Pittsburgh who used to live at New Vrindaban, Rev. George Exoo (1942-2015) and Thomas McGurrin (1941-2015) and going out everyday on “the pick” to sell my newly-released compact disc (my first compact disc release) A Classical Christmas.

I had written the arrangements while still living at the New Vrindaban Community in Marshall County, West Virginia. That summer I hired Pittsburgh Symphony musicians for recording sessions at the Audiomation Recording Studio on Pittsburgh’s North Side. The album was released in November 1993, and in December I temporarily moved to Pittsburgh to hawk my CD in front of CD stores and street corners.

While listening to WQED-FM one December day, I discovered they were having their annual fund drive, and offering items as gifts to donors. I drove to the studio on Fifth Avenue, introduced myself, and offered them ten of my CDs to offer as gifts for donors. They decided to give out a CD to anyone who contributed $100. They broadcast selections from my CD on the air. They sold out all ten CDs within the first hour. (I must admit, it is a great album.)

I offered to sell the station a larger quantity of copies of my CD at a discount, and they purchased 125 copies. My CD got lots of air time on Pittsburgh’s classical radio station, and classical music lovers in Pittsburgh were exposed to the classical accordion. It was a win/win/win situation for me, for WQED-FM and for radio listeners.

I visited the station often, and became friendly with disc jockey Paul Johnston, who invited me to his home for dinner parties. He also invited me to record classical accordion music at the Welk Hall at the Laughlin Center for the Performing Arts at Chatham College (now Chatham University). On a warm spring day, as the trees were sprouting leaves and flower gardens blossoming, I drove to Chatham College on May 31, 1995 and we recorded about an hour’s worth of music. The hall was spacious and had a lovely reverberation.

Station Manager Jim Cunningham was delighted and sent out a memo to the WQED-FM staff:

This recording that you are hearing came from a cassette tape I produced. Most of the music was recorded on May 31, 1995, at the Welk Hall at Chatham College, as noted earlier, but the Hindemith Kammermusik No. 1 with the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble conducted by Maestro David Stock was recorded at Levy Hall, Rodef Shalom Temple on September 18, 1995.

David Stock (1939-2015), the founder/director of the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, was my composition professor at Duquesne University at the time. I enrolled in the graduate program at the music school in the Fall of 1994, and got a graduate assistantship, which paid for my tuition. While at Duquesne, I also studied with Dr. Joseph Wilcox Jenkins (1928-2014), Dr. Louis Munkachy (b. 1928) and the director of the Graduate School, Dr. Robert Shankovich. I got my Master Degree in 1997.

In this cassette, I combined the two radio shows to increase the length. The “Performance in Pittsburgh” show also featured a tuba player, who I deleted from the cassette, as I wanted to focus on the accordion. Hope you enjoy the music!

Cassette Tracks: