Palmer legacy on display at Harrington ARTS CenterThe Harrington ARTS Center in Superior recently was given a showcase of a well-known accordion conductor.
By: Alyssa Palmer/Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
The Harrington ARTS Center in Superior recently was given a showcase of a well-known accordion conductor.
The legacy of Willard “Bill” Palmer, a conductor and arranger of accordion music includes a concert hall showcase loaded with Palmer’s accordions. One of the most special is a big red harpsichord Palmer affectionately called “Big Red”.
Palmer wrote more than 700 music pieces translated into 17 languages before his death in 1996. ARTS, — short for Accordion Repair and Technician School Center — owner Helmi Harrington says Palmer changed the level of understanding of what good accordion music is all about.
She says her passion for this accordion museum is to keep history alive for great artists such as Palmer.
“It has been a great personal goal of mine because I recognize how important history is,” Harrington said. “You see, I was born right after the World War, Second World War, and the history of that which happened is very relevant in my life. It’s an important one in the accordion world because that’s what saved my mother from starvation for sure and maybe worse. When she came to the United States it’s what earned a living for us and kept my small family alive.”
Harrington ARTS Center board of directors Linda Melcher got involved with the museum last year when she got an accordion for her birthday. She had no idea how to play it. Finding great joy in her new hobby, she and Harrington began tag-teaming concerts.
“We started doing joined concert series so we’ll have an artist one night in Two Harbors and a second night here because the audiences don’t compete with one another. But it’s also close enough that if they really want see the artist, they can see them one or another of the nights.” Melcher said.
“And if they really love them, they can see both,” Harrington said.
Harrington says she enjoys teaching young and old about the history of accordions in her museum.
“There are things about which I am most proud,” she said. “First of all the accumulation of the history is so complex, it’s so difficult, and that it is all together here and under one roof, and has come my way simply because I was here to receive it. It’s tremendously rewarding for me.”
And there’s lots to see. The Superior Arts Center has more than 1,300 accordions. She says accordions are like potato chips, you can’t have just one.
Tours to see Palmers showcase begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.
Wisconsin Public Radio can be heard locally on 91.3 KUWS-FM and online at www.wpr.org.