Oneonta Concert Association is the area’s oldest concert association. Now in its 92nd season, OCA continues to offer area concertgoers world-class programs in chamber music, dance, jazz, and orchestra, all at an affordable price.
It all started in 1928, when representatives from New York City’s Community Concerts came to Oneonta to discuss plans to bring quality concerts to communities across the U.S. The first concert was on Feb. 13, 1929. Hundreds of acclaimed programs have followed.
Read Oneonta City Historian Mark Simonson’s account of OCA’s beginnings here:
In 2013, City of Oneonta, NY, Mayor Richard Miller honored OCA with a Mayoral Proclamation recognizing OCA’s 85th anniversary and mission in the community. (For details, click on the OCA News tab on this site.)
OCA Today: New Venues, Ticket Outlets, Young Artists, Outreach, Web Site, Arts Field Day
MORE VENUES, PROGRAMS, AND PARTNERSHIPS: OCA has grown since its inception, partnering with more businesses and sponsors to provide the best possible programming, and with new venues to provide audiences a variety of concert experiences.
Yet OCA’s mission remains the same: to bringing the public “big city” offerings at an affordable price.
OCA’s Young Artists Program debuted in 2012; the program highlights the talents of young area musicians in short pre-curtain sets before each featured concert. OCA also continues to sponsor free public workshops and presentations for area school children each season. Arts Field Day, a community project celebrating the performing arts with schools in connection with OCA’s May concerts, is entering its third year.
Also new is OCA’s re-designed and expanded web site, facebook page, and mobile access via QR code.
NEW TICKET OUTLETS: Concertgoers may now buy single tickets in advance at two new local ticket outlets: The Green Toad Bookstore, at 198 Main St., and The Eighth Note music store, at 10 South Main St., both in downtown Oneonta.
Single tickets are $25 for adults; $6 for students. Tickets are also sold at the door. Adults who bring a group of children are admitted free.
Come celebrate with OCA!
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. Discounts are provided for subscriptions purchased before June 30. Subscription forms are on the back of the season brochure, and also downloadable on this site (see the Tickets tab, then Subscriptions).
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: email@example.com.
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 Cossack’s 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, 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, Marian McPartland, and Ron Carter’s Golden Striker Trio have also performed.
Some of our more recent guest artists have included Grammy-winning violinist/composer Mark O’Connor with the Catskill Symphony Orchestra, The Boston Chamber Music Society, Taylor 2 dance company, Scotland’s legendary Battlefield Band, violinist Tim Fain in an innovative multi-media event, classical string siblings Duo Parnas, premier men’s vocal group Cantus, New York’s Manhattan Brass, Renaissance music from The Baltimore Consort, music on period instruments from Rebel Baroque Ensemble, rising young violin sensation Tessa Lark, jazz from multi-instrumentalist and composer Chris Brubeck and Triple Play, The Vanaver Caravan celebrating Pete Seeger’s 100th birthday with music, dance, song, and historical multi-media, and our own local clarinetist Robin Seletsky with her klezmer band The Big Galut(e). Concerts from other notable Oneonta-area outstanding musicians have included world-renowned sitarist Roop Verma in his final concert along with son Arjun Verma, now also making a name for himself as a sitarist, composer, and educator.
(OCA history courtesy of Paul Scheele; updates added by Kathy Shimberg)
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: Beth Small
Vice President: Martha Robinson
Secretary: Rachel Rissberger
Treasurer: Ingrid Guiter
- Diane Aaronson
- Maria Agliano
- Sue Beames
- Dan Buttermann
- Ned Eastman
- Olga Zona Irwin
- Cindy Magee
- Margery Merzig
- Randy Palada
- Andy Pease
- Dolores Rothwell
- Kathy Shimberg
- Ann Wallace
Emeritus Board Members:
- Larry Armstrong
- Tom Austin
- Muriel Beattie
- Lucy Bernier
- Christine Bulson
- Tina Chrislip
- Paul Conway
- Sandy Flieisher
- Lucile Frisbee
- Susan R. Hughson
- Jeffrey Hahn
- Fred Johnson
- Diana Kang
- Bruce Knauer
- Katherine Kotz
- Larry Mirarchi
- Paul Scheele
- H. Laverne Thomas