Amy Jo Sawyer began
her study of the accordion at the age of ten under the tutelage
of Henri Milano, in Mesa, Arizona. She came from musical parents,
Marlin & Virginia McLaws, who played trumpet and piano
respectively in their own Dance Orchestra for fifty years
in the Phoenix area. Amy Jo started piano lessons at the age
of five and during her grade and high school years played
the baritone horn in the school bands. The accordion became
her "first love" and at age fourteen she entered
the National Accordion Competition, in Chicago, placing 2nd
in her age category. At age nineteen she won first place in
the Western States Accordion Competition in Long Beach, California
and competed in the "Coupe Mondiale" (World Accordion
Competition) in Biel, Switzerland, establishing herself as
one of the world's foremost accordionists.
She continued her studies under the direction of Anthony Galla-Rini,
in Los Angeles, and represented Arizona in the National Accordion
Competition in New York City. "One of the greatest compliments
I have received was from Mr. Galla-Rini, as he included my
name with those he considered his most talented students in
the book, 'Anthony Galla-Rini on His Life and the Accordion'
written by Swedish author Ove Hahn."
In 1964 she won a competition sponsored by the Sacramento
Symphony Orchestra, the winner of which to perform in solo
with the symphony. The other contestants were violinists and
pianists. The Symphony Conductor, Sandor Salgo, exclaimed,
"she is a musical genius, and just happens to play the
accordion!" She performed "Fantasia for Accordion
& Orchestra", by Paul Creston.
Amy Jo has written music for, and performed with, the University
of Missouri at Kansas City Accordion Orchestra, under the
direction of Joan Sommers, on four of their international
tours. Amy Jo received a BA degree in Composition in 1988
and a Master's Degree in Jazz Performance in 1989 from Southern
Illinois University - Edwardsville. While there she composed
several jazz originals that were performed by the SIU-E Concert
Jazz Band, with her on keyboards. An original, "Just
You," was also performed by the Brigham Young University
"Synthesis" Jazz Band. Amy Jo has performed accordion
parts with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra on numerous
occasions, including accompanying world renowned Italian Tenor,
Luciano Pavarotti. Amy Jo has served as President of the Accordionists
& Teacher's Guild, International, Inc.
Sawyer Music Studio
Amy Jo Sawyer
813 W. Lakeshore Dr.