Oral History -

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David Van Koevering worked alongside Bob Moog in the early days of marketing the Minimoog synthesizer. The instrument was the first mass produced synthesizer that produce unique tones, ushering in a new era of electronic music. David worked in several positions within the music industry over the years.

Ray van Straten began his love of music when his parents bought him a kids piano when he was four years old. He went on to study classical piano performance, as well as jazz arranging with Manny Albam, a highlight of his music education. Ray has memories of playing in rock bands throughout his early adulthood, as well as getting involved writing jingles for TV and radio.

Kees van Willigen opened a music shop in Holland in 1968. As an accordion player he specialized in the instrument and soon gained a world-wide reputation for his product line and customer service. Kees (pronounced Case) witnessed the boom of the accordion in the 1950s and 60s, its decline in the 70s and 80s and it’s resurgence in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Bernie Vance played the saxophone in a number of big bands during the swing era. He was drafted and served during World War II, only to come home and find that musical tastes had changed. The big band era was over so Bernie turned to what he knew best, his horn. If he couldn’t play it for a living, he would teach and sell. In 1946, the Vance Music Store opened in Bloomington, IN. However, the first year was a difficult one for the store (like so many others in his same situation). Bernie needed to learn about overhead and taxes, which he learned fast.

Mary Vandenberg started at Hal Leonard as the sole licensing administrator in the Milwaukee office and eventually became the Vice President of Business Affairs.  In that role she dealt with copyright, trademark and other intellectual property issues and was the liaison with music rights owners and others from whom the company licensed rights for its products.  She developed man

J.M. VanEaton was the house drummer for a little recording company in Memphis that began one of the centers of the birth of rock and roll. Sun Records was formed by Sam Philips in 1951 and was put on the map when Elvis Presley began his career at Sun Records. Just a few months after Elvis left for RCA, J.M.

CJ Vanston was thrilled to have the opportunity to produce for Toto, one of his all-time favorite bands.  The project was a symbolic full circle experience having been a studio musician, first in Chicago and later Los Angeles.  CJ became known for creating sounds and becoming an expert on programming the latest and greatest electronic keyboard and synthesizer during the 1970s a

Andy Vargas’ father was the leader of a mariachi band, which became a large influence on young Andy growing up.  He witnessed what the power of music could do, not only on the audiences, but also on the performers.  By the age of 15, Andy was performing for recording producers such as Terry Melcher, who helped direct Andy’s early career.  In 2000, Andy began his long associatio

Nelson Varon is the founder of the Nelson Varon Piano and Organ Studios who has enjoyed a long career in the music products industry. During his career in the retail business, which focused on organ and keyboard instruments, Nelson continued to perform for local community groups and churches.

Willy Vassilopoulos joined the Ovation Guitar Company in New Hartford Connecticut to follow his love of woodworking. He soon took part in the production of the instrument, which was originally introduced by Charles Kaman in the 1960s. The Ovation Guitar was unique for its round back made out of a material close to fiberglass. The company grew over the decades and established a number of other innovative designs and products.

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