One of Gary Larson's Far Side comic's many versions of the Divine Comedy was subtitled thusly: "Welcome to Heaven. Here's your harp . . . Welcome to Hell. Here's your accordion."
It's against this general attitude that Nick Ariondo works. Ariondo, a virtuoso on the instrument most associated with Myron Floren and "Weird Al" Yankovic, struggles to raise the esteem in which the accordion is held. He'll be furthering this work, accompanied by clarinetist Larry Hughes and cellist Armon Kaadjikian, as the featured musician at Arcosanti's Italian Night Dinner and Concert on Saturday, July 14. Zubin Mehta has declared Ariondo's work "a brilliant success."
A traditional Italian dinner created by architectural visionary Paolo Soleri is the highlight of this annual fete at Arcosanti, Soleri's futuristic experimental settlement in the high desert located off I-17 at Cordes Junction near the town of Mayer, about 65 miles north of Phoenix. Dinner, served in wheelbarrows and consisting of antipasto, Italian bread and Penne con Pomodoro e Aglio, is served at 6 p.m. Goodies such as Pollo or Seitan (wheat protein) Marsala, Zucchini con Pepperoni Rossi, Insalata di Pomodoro e Basilico, Granito do Limone and Biscotti e Frutta round out the meal. A tour of Arcosanti is offered beforehand, at 5 p.m.
The chow-down is followed at 8 p.m. by the performance, the bill of which includes works by Piazzolla, Rossini, Puccini and Ariondo himself, in Colly Soleri Music Center (named for the late wife of the famed wind-bell artist). Reservations are required; tickets are $25 for dinner and the concert. For reservations and details, call 602-254-5309 (in Phoenix), or 1-928-632-7135 (at Arcosanti).