The Oneonta Concert Association is the area’s oldest concert association. Now in its 85th season, OCA continues to offer concertgoers world-class programs in chamber music, dance, jazz, and orchestra at an affordable price.
HUNDREDS OF ACCLAIMED PROGRAMS: It all started in 1928, when representatives from New York City’s Community Concerts came to Oneonta to discuss plans for bringing quality concerts to cities and towns throughout the U.S. The first concert in Oneonta was on Feb. 13, 1929. Hundreds of acclaimed programs have followed.
OCA has grown since its inception: partnering with new sponsors and area businesses and arts organizations, developing this new web site and facebook page, offering more diverse programming at more venues. Yet OCA’s mission remains the same: to bringing the public “big city” offerings at an affordable price. The association is still managed by volunteer efforts.
NEW TICKET OUTLETS: Income from advance subscription sales, a major source of revenue, allows OCA to book artists for the current season and plan for the next. Everyone is invited to subscribe. Single tickets are also sold at the door, at at several new ticket outlets in downtown Oneonta. Tickets remain an affordable $20 to $25 for adults, and $6 for students. OCA also sponsors free public workshops and presentations for area school children each season.
While we attempt to present all programs as scheduled, OCA events are subject to change. OCA holds all events in barrier-free facilities. For questions about concert access, email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the summer of 1928, two representatives from a New York City group called Community Concerts visited Oneonta to discuss bringing quality concerts to cities throughout the United States. They approached Ethel Mills, an interested Oneonta musician, who became enthusiastic about the idea. She asked local volunteers to sell memberships in what became the Oneonta Community Concert Association. A board of directors was established, with lumber businessman Roscoe C. Briggs elected as president, with Mills on the board.
FIRST CONCERT: The first concert was in February 1929 at the then-junior high school, formerly on Academy Street in Oneonta. The Russian Symphonic Choir was first to perform. Some notable concerts that followed were: baritone Lawrence Tibbett (later a Metropolitan Opera star), Don Cossacks Men’s Choir, tenor Paul Althouse, the Hall Johnson Choir, tenor Nino Martini, and cellist Gregor Piatigorsky.
By the late 1930s, membership growth required a larger hall, and concerts were moved to Oneonta State’s Old Main building, and also to Hartwick College. One noted artist to appear during this period was pianist Joseph Hoffman. Dorothy Maynor, a soprano, and violinist Mischa Elman also performed. Many of OCA’s members dressed formally for concerts, and younger members served as ushers, also in formal attire.
WORLD WAR II: Even during World War II the Association was able to present fine artist such as duo-pianists Bartlett and Robinson, bass-baritone Paul Robeson, tenor James Melton, the Trapp Family Singers (on whose lives “The Sound of Music” was based), pianist Rudolf Firkusny, and the De Paur Chorus.
In 1941-42, the Association presented a symphony orchestra for the first time. Since then, some of the greatest American orchestras have performed here: the Indianapolis, Rochester, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, and Washington National Symphonies, the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Symphonic Orchestra of Brazil, and the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra.
Concerts during the 1940s also included pianist Jorge Bolet, vocal duo Todd Duncan and Camilla Williams, mezzo-soprano Rise Stevens, the Roger Wagner Chorale, organist Virgil Fox, and the Juilliard String Quartet. The 1950s and 1960s brought Metropolitan Opera contralto Mildred Miller, pianists Samuel Lippman and Charles Rosen, and Paul Doktor, viola.
Since 1964, concerts have been held at Oneonta High School, the State University College at Oneonta, the First United Methodist Church on Chestnut Street in Oneonta, and most recently at The Oneonta Theatre and Foothills Performing Arts & Civic Center.
PROGRAMMING EXPANDS: In 1977 the Association ended a 50-year alliance with Columbia Artists’ Community Concerts, and dropped the word “Community.” Over time, Oneonta Concert Association become known as simply OCA. As an independent non-profit organization, OCA could bring in artists from any management (including Columbia), which greatly expanded the talent available. The change also required that OCA rely on its own resources to bring live, quality programs to the public. At the same time, OCA decided to stop calling itself a “membership” organization, selling season subscriptions and single tickets instead.
Programming expanded during mid-1970s to include dance, jazz, folk, and other artists. Dance companies appearing have included: the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Ohio Ballet, Alwin Nikolais Dance Theater, Jose Greco, Joffrey II, Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble, Momix, Mummenschanz, Ballet National du Senegal, the Tamburitzans, and Taylor 2.
Jazz artists Charlie Byrd, James DePogny’s Chicago Jazz, the Count Basie Orchestra, Hank Jones, and Marian McPartland have also performed.
The 2011-2012 season featured Grammy-winning violinist/composer Mark O’Connor with the Catskill Symphony Orchestra, the Borromeo String Quartet, jazz pianist Rossano Sportiello, The Boston Chamber Music Society, and Taylor 2 dance company.
(OCA history courtesy of Paul Scheele)
NEW PROGRAMS AND PARTNERSHIPS: New for 2012-2013 is OCA’s Young Artists Program, which highlights the talents of young area musicians in short pre-curtain sets before each featured concert. Also new is OCA’s re-designed and expanded web site, facebook page, and mobile access via QR code.
OCA is also partnering with new venues to provide audiences a variety of concert experiences, and with more area businesses and sponsors to bring audiences the best possible programming. Concert-goers may also now purchase single tickets at two new ticket outlets: The Green Toad Bookstore, and The Eighth Note music store, both in downtown Oneonta.
85th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION: The mayor of Oneonta, NY, Richard P. Miller, recently honored OCA with a Mayoral Proclamation recognizing OCA’s 85th anniversary. (For details, click on the “OCA in the News” tab at the top of this page.)
OCA celebrates its 85th anniversary in 2012-2013 with five extraordinary concerts: Scotland’s exhilarating Battlefield Band; masterful violinist Tim Fain in an innovative multi-media event; charming period ensemble Chatham Baroque; exciting classical string sibling pair Duo Parnas; and Grammy-winning bassist Ron Carter and his jazz trio in a swingin’ anniversary gala in May 2013.
Come celebrate with OCA!
Board of Directors
OCA is a non-profit organization governed by a volunteer board of directors from Oneonta and surrounding communities. Volunteers for OCA activities are welcome. Board membership is by invitation.
President: Diana Staley Kang
Secretary: Christine Bulson
Vice President: James Grace
Treasurer: Jeffrey Hahn
- Lawrence Armstrong*
- Tom Austin*
- Muriel Beattie
- Lucy Bernier
- Lesley Bidwell
- Janet Bresee*
- Christina Chrislip
- Paul Conway
- Kathryn Dailey
- Ned Eastman
- Sandra Fleisher*
- Barbara Francis
- Lucile Frisbee*
- Chris Given*
- Howson Hartley*
- Susan R. Hughson*
- Christina Hunt
- Olga Irwin
- Fred Johnson
- Bruce Knauer
- Katherine Kotz*
- Hannah Lamont
- Margery Merzig
- Larry Mirarchi
- Janet Potter
- Martha Robinson
- Paul Scheele
- Kathy Shimberg
- Kathleen Sisson*
- C. Brown Thomas
- H. Laverne Thomas*
- Ann Wallace