Young Artists / Community Outreach

OCA Young Artists Program

In 2012, OCA began offering short performances by talented young area artists as opening acts for OCA concerts. There are five regular Friday or Saturday concerts per season; each OCA Young Artist takes the stage for 10 minutes before the concert headliner.

Seeking Talented Youth

OCA’s Young Artists Program is a great opportunity for area youth to open for a headline performer. Interested artists, age 21 and younger, may contact OCA board member Randy Palada for an audition appointment. Auditioners should be prepared to perform two contrasting pieces, and submit a brief resume and photo.

2019-2020 Season Young Artists:

Lucy Menke

For October 4, 2019: Lucy Menke, 13, lives in Delhi, NY, and is going to be a 9th grader at Delaware Academy. In 2017, she performed the national anthem with Delaware Academy’s Treble Choir at Citi Field for a New York Mets game. Lucy participates in her school orchestra as a violinist and in chorus as a soprano. She has had multiple solos in her choir as well as sang “O Holy Night” in which she received a standing ovation. She has been selected for All County multiple times and was most recently selected to perform at Area All-State. She has received perfect scores on all three of her vocal NYSSMA solos, most recently performing a level 5 as an eighth grader. Lucy has been studying voice privately with Kimberly Collison since the age of 10. She enjoys singing, riding horses, dancing, and spending time with her friends. Lucy occasionally accompanies herself singing with the ukulele and piano.

Ushuaia Diaz

For November 2, 2019:  Ushuaia Diaz, a 2017 Schenevus Central School graduate, is a junior music education major at Hartwick College and is from the studio of Robin Seletsky. She opened as a young artist for Oneonta Concert Association during the 2017-18 season and in February 2019 was selected for the College Band Directors National Association intercollegiate small band program where she played in the first clarinet section. Ushuaia completed an internship at the University of Graz in Oberschützen, Austria at the International Center for Wind Music Research. While there, she studied clarinet with Peter Forcher. She is currently concertmaster of the Hartwick College Wind Ensemble, principal clarinetist of the SUCO-Hartwick Orchestra, and regularly performs with the Catskill Valley Wind Ensemble and Oneonta Community Concert Band. She has recently joined the American Federation of Musicians. Ushuaia will be having her junior recital this fall on November 10th where she will play works by Brahms, Kovács, and Piazzolla

Hua Cui

For March 27, 2020: Hua Cui is a 13-year-old pianist. Her parents came from China 16 years ago. She is currently a student at the Oneonta middle school, Oneonta, NY. Hua started her piano lesson at the age of 5. She is currently studying with professor Young Kim at the College of Saint Rose in Albany. Hua’s most favorite composers are J.S.Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Chopin. Among the many pianists she admires, the following ones touch her heart the most: Glean Gould, Hofmann, Cziffra, Cortot and the Russian pianists who are full of “fire” such as Maria Yudina and Richter. Hua is also an artist. Her art works are mostly about music and animals. She made many pictures of dog orchestra performing in the grand Hall of the Moscow conservatory in Russia-her dream place in the world. Hua loves nature! Beside piano playing and picture making She enjoys wandering in her daddy’s garden, caring for plants, and walking her German shepherd in the woods.

Adrianna Dugan

For April 24, 2020: Adrianna Faith Dugan is finishing her sophomore year in Oneonta Senior High School, having participated in many music related activities including first chair French Horn in the Oneonta High School Concert Band , under the direction of Mr. Mike DePauw two years in a row. In her freshman year, Adrianna received the Outstanding Freshman award from the band director for her achievements and dedication. She has been participating in NYSSMA music festivals every year since fifth grade. This past solo festival, she performed a level 6 solo and earned a score of 99 with the assistance of her private horn teacher Mr. Anthony Hayes. She has also participated in Area All State Band as the first horn and has been first chair in All County High School Festivals twice. Adrianna is a member of National Honor Society, is excelling in the accelerated classes for science, math, social studies, and English. She is also the Secretary for Students Against Destructive Decisions (S.A.D.D.), a student representative for Oneonta’s Dollars for Scholars, and plays trombone in the Oneonta High School Pep Band and Jazz Band. Adrianna was also the first trombone for the All County Jazz Band this past year. She has performed in multiple Hartwick College Master Classes, along with the Hartwick Horn Choir and Hartwick Honor Band. She has also participated with the Mid York Band , and the pit band for the OHS performance of 42nd Street and the Orpheus Theater production of A Christmas Carol.

2018-2019 Season Young Artists:


Joseph “JP” Dewey

For September 21, 2018: Joseph “JP” Dewey of Sidney, NY has been playing piano for 12 years. JP has performed with the Sidney High School Jazz Band, Chenango County All-County Jazz Band, Hartwick College Jazz Band, and The O’Dewey Jazz Duo. JP currently studies with Robert Roman of SUNY Oneonta. In addition to piano, JP plays trumpet, sings in the high school chorus, and is a substitute organist at his church. JP’s other hobbies include golf, bowling, and tennis, National Honor Society, Sidney Students Against Destructive Decisions Club (SSADD), Interact Club, Tri-M Music Honor society, and Boy Scouts.  JP recently won the University of Rochester Bausch and Lomb Science Award and the Rochester Institute of Technology Computing Medal. He hopes to attend the University of Rochester to study music and chemistry.

Anika Liv Christensen

Anika Liv Christensen

For October 12, 2018: Anika Liv Christensen is an eighth grade student at Gilbertsville-Mount Upton Central School and has been playing the flute for five years under the instruction of Mrs. Anne Monaco and Dr. Ana Laura González. She has performed with the GMUCS High-School Symphonic Band Otsego County Junior High School All-County Band, Norwich City Band, GMUCS High-School Jazz Band, Hartwick Honor Band, GMUCS Senior Chorus, All-County Junior High School Chorus, and accompanies the GMUCS Elementary and Junior Choruses on piano.  Anika enjoys school, particularly math, science, and literature, and participates in Leadership Club, student government, Women for Change, and Drama Club.

For November 2, 2018: The Little Delaware Youth Ensemble was established in 2000 by former music director Julie Signitzer, Deanna Palumbo and a dedicated group of parents who shared the goal of creating an institution where promising young string players could come together to learn and grow as musicians and to gain ensemble experience unavailable elsewhere in their home area in rural central New York.  From its modest beginning with fewer than 15 families, LDYE has more than doubled in size over the past 15 years. In 2013 a Preparatory Orchestra was initiated that nurtures the talents of student musicians from four counties in central New York. Because most local schools in the area do not offer string programs, LDYE is the only ensemble experience available for these talented young musicians.  The groups rehearse in Oneonta one evening each week and perform four public concerts annually. Violinist Uli Speth was appointed to the position of conductor and music director in June of 2015.  German born and a resident of Mount Vernon, NY, Uli is a violin instructor at Hartwick College, concertmaster of the Binghamton Philharmonic, and a regular performer in ensembles throughout the region.

Hiram Lopez

Hiram Lopez

For April 7, 2019: Hiram Lopez is 10 years old and has been playing violin since he was three. He attends the Kanack School of Musical Artistry in Rochester, NY and his teacher is Lee Byrne.  He participates in chamber music groups and enjoys improvisation. Recently Hiram performed at the Kanack School of Musical Artistry fundraising showcase. He plays violin regularly at his church accompanied by the pipe organist.  Hiram is fluent in Spanish and his hobbies are wrestling and chess.

2017-2018 Season Young Artists:

Elizabeth Chernyak

Elizabeth Chernyak
Katherine Chernyak Katherine Chernyak

For September 8, 2017: Elizabeth Chernyak (left, violin & piano) and Katherine Chernyak (right, violin & piano) were born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada and currently live in Sidney, NY. When they were 5 years old, they began to study the piano, and, at age 7, began to study violin under the direction of Ruth Wiebe.  They currently study with Uli Speth. Both Elizabeth and Katherine were members of the Windsor Youth Symphony Orchestra, Sunny Side Strings, and are current members of the Little Delaware Youth Ensemble and the Binghamton Youth Symphony.  Elizabeth and Katherine participated in the Kiwanis Festival where they were awarded first place for violin performance.  Elizabeth enjoys sailing, horse-back riding, drawing, and writing stories. She is also a competitive swimmer at Sidney Swim Club and plays volleyball and basketball.  Katherine enjoys sailing, horse-back riding, competitive swimming and volleyball.


Ushuaia Diaz

For October 13, 2017: Ushuaia Diaz has been playing clarinet since the 4th grade.  She also plays piano, flute, saxophone, trombone, trumpet, guitar, and sings.  She has participated in NYSSMA, Area All State, and has been first chair in All County twice.  Ushuaia plays basketball, is an active member of her church, and is an academic scholar.  She is currently a freshman at Hartwick College studying biology and music performance.  Ushuaia is accompanied by her mother on piano.


Naamah Romano

For November 3, 2017: Naamah Romano is a 9th grader at Gilbertsville-Mt. Upton Central School.  She started playing violin when she was 7 years old under the direction of Julie Signitzer (Oneonta), Linda Case (Ithaca), and Uli Speth (Hartwick College).  Naamah has been a member of Little Delaware Youth Ensemble for the past 7 years, and concert master for the past 2 years.  She is also a member of the Binghamton Youth Symphony Orchestra.  Naamah has attended the New York Summer Music Festival and SUNY Oneonta for 3 years, and Point Counterpoint Camp in Vermont for 2 years.  Naamah also enjoys playing saxophone and is a member of her school’s symphonic and jazz bands.


Siobhan Higgins

For March 16, 2018: Siobhan Higgins is 15 years old and home-schooled in Otego.  Siobhan began playing piano when she was 7 and is currently studying with Fideliz Campbell.  Her favorite composer is J. S. Bach.  She also plays violin with the Little Delaware Youth Ensemble with violin teacher Uli Speth.  She dances with the Decker School of Ballet, under the instruction of Donna Decker.  When Siobhan isn’t dancing or practicing an instrument, she enjoys horseback riding, needlepoint, and reading.


Lucian Lytel & Quinn Lytel

For April 20, 2018: Lucian Lytel (viola) and Quinn Lytel (violin) began playing stringed instruments at an early age. They currently study with Uli Speth and are members of the Little Delaware Youth Ensemble. They have performed at various venues in and around Cooperstown, New York, where they live. Lucian has been selected as a member of the Area All-State Orchestra, and Quinn has been selected for All-County Chorus and Band. In addition to playing the viola, Lucian also plays the guitar and tenor saxophone, and his rock band, Rancid Lizard, recently had its debut performance at Cooperstown High School’s “Brain Jam.” Quinn is a member of her school band, in which she plays the clarinet, and is also a member of the Cooperstown Junior High Chorus. Lucian and Quinn previously participated in the Oneonta Concert Association’s Young Artist Program as members of the Lytel Trio.

2016-2017 Season Young Artists:


David Gouldin

For September 9, 2016: David Gouldin is a 7th grader at Oneonta Middle School. David began dancing Hip Hop at Jillian’s Dance Arts in 2013. In 2015, David began studying technical dance such as: Ballet, Contemporary and Jazz. In addition to dance, David has been involved in Musical Theatre with the Orpheus Theatre playing Flounder in The Little Mermaid, James in Willy Wonka and Rich Man’s Son in Gypsy.


Benjamin Blacklock

For October 7, 2016: Benjamin Blacklock is finishing his junior year in high school, having participated in many music related activities including first chair clarinetist in the NYSSMA Gold Award winning concert band at Oneonta
High School with director Mr. Mike Depauw, NYSSMA music festival level 6 solo earning a score of 98,
College Woodwind Ensemble directed by Robin Seletsky, Oneonta High SchoolJazz Ensemble playing
saxophone, All-County concert band, All-State Regional band, and private clarinet lessons with Robin
Seletsky. He is also very interested in engineering and has participated in Robokronos Robotics team of
Oneonta High School at FIRST Robotics competitions. He is an excellent student and plays sports when he is not studying or playing music.


The Little Delaware Youth Ensemble

For November 4, 2016: The Little Delaware Youth Ensemble (LDYE) was established in 2000 by music director Julie Signitzer, Deanna Palumbo and a dedicated group of parents who shared the goal of creating an institution where promising young string players could come together to learn and grow as musicians and to gain ensemble experience unavailable elsewhere in their home area in rural central New York. In 2013 a Preparatory Orchestra was initiated for younger, less experienced students. Today, LDYE is an enduring institution that nurtures the talents of student musicians from four counties. The groups rehearse in Oneonta one evening each week and perform four public concerts annually.


Hua Cui

For March 3, 2017: Hua Cui is 10 years old. Hua started piano lessons at age 5 with Kristina Turecheck. Hua’s favorite composers are Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Chopin. She admires Horowitz, Brendel and especially the Russian pianists that are full of “fire” such as Maria Yudina and Kissin. Besides playing piano, Hua enjoys art, exploring the garden, caring for plants and observing small animals.


Luis Rivas

For April 21, 2017: Luis Rivas is 12 years old and has been singing in the choir of the First Christian Church of Otego for 3 years. He took first place last year at the Otsego County Fair Mini Karaoke Competition; placed second in the Talent Show competition at the Chenango County Fair, and went on to compete at the State Fair, where he made the semi-finals. He loves to sing all types of music, but his passion is Gospel music. His other interests include, skateboarding, roller skating, baseball, archery, horseback riding, video games, and practicing his guitar.

2015-2016 Season Young Artists:


The Lytel Trio

For Sept. 11, 2015: The Lytel Trio Sam Lytel (violin, age 14), Lucian Lytel (viola, age 12), and Quinn Lytel (violin, age 11) began playing stringed instruments at an early age, initially studying at the Hochstein School of Music in Rochester, New York. Most recently, they have been studying with Marie Tucker. They have all soloed, to one extent or another, with the Little Delaware Youth Ensemble (LDYE) under the direction of Julie Signitzer. In addition, they have performed at various venues in Cooperstown, New York, where they now live. Sam has been awarded a perfect score at NYSSMA for a recent duet performance and won the Cooperstown Middle School Concerto Competition in 2015. Lucian and Quinn have both achieved “Outstanding” ratings at NYSSMA. In addition to the aforementioned instruments, Sam, Lucian, and Quinn also enjoy playing several others, including the trumpet, tenor saxophone, clarinet, piano, bass, mandolin, and guitar.


Hua Cui

For Oct. 9, 2015: Hua Cui, nine years old, who is our young artist for October. She is a fifth-grader at Greater Plains Elementary School in Oneonta, New York and studies with local piano teacher Kristina Turechek. Our young pianist’s favorite composers are Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Chopin.


Elaina Palada

For April 15, 2016: Elaina Palada is a senior at Gilbertsville-Mount Upton Central School, where she is principal flute of the Symphonic Band, as well as a member of the Senior Chorus, Jazz Band, dinner theaters, and the school musicals. She has been a member of the Binghamton Youth Symphony Orchestra since 2013 and Principal Flute since 2014. Elaina has achieved success with her NYSSMA solo contests, receiving perfect scores on her All State Solos in 2014 and 2015. She was an alternate for the All-State Conference Symphonic Band in 2014. With voice, she has received Outstanding scores on her level V and VI solos in 2013, 2014, and 2015. Elaina is a 2015 winner in the woodwind, brass, and percussion division of the STMTA solo competition. She has also participated in the Susquehanna University Honors Band Festival, where she was Principal flute of the Wind Ensemble in 2014 and 2015. Vocally, Elaina was a Dox Apprentice with the Catskill Choral Society in 2014-2015. Elaina has been involved in musical productions at Gilbertsville-Mount Upton Central School for many years, most recently playing the Jester in Once Upon a Mattress (2012), JoJo in Seussical (2013), Annie in Oklahoma (2014), and Belle in Beauty and the Beast (2015). During the summer, she attends the New York Summer Music Festival at SUCO. Elaina studies flute with Dr. Ana Laura Gonzalez and voice with Cindy Donaldson. Other teachers include Bonnie Kim at NYSMF and Anne Monaco at GMUSCD. She has been inspired and encouraged musically by Mr. Mathew Oram, Instrumental Music Teacher at Gilbertsville-Mount Upton Central School. In college, she plans to pursue a career in music education and/or performance.


Elaine Palada

For March 13, 2016: Margaret Ernst started playing the violin at three years of age, and is enrolled in the Ithaca Talent Education Program under the direction of Sandy Reuning. She has toured with their Heifetz Ensemble in the Carolinas and in Mexico. She now studies privately with Kirsten Marshall of Ithaca Talent Education Program. Margaret is a student at Morris Central School, where she is part of the band, chorus, and jazz ensemble.

2014-2015 Season Young Artists:


David Fenwick

For May 15, 2015: David Fenwick is in his third year at Ithaca College School of Music, double majoring in cello performance and composition. He has played cello since age 4 and is a student of Elizabeth Simkin. David is principal cellist of the Ithaca College Chamber Orchestra and has also been a member of the Ithaca College Symphony Orchestra. He also plays with a chamber group at Ithaca College and is a member of Ithaca College Choir. This past summer he attended Brevard Summer Arts Festival in North Carolina where he was a member of both Brevard Sinfonia and Brevard Music Center Orchestra. In years past he has attended Wintergreen Music Festival, Interlochen Summer Arts Academy, Boston

Conservatory Summer Composition Intensive, Apple Hill Chamber Music Festival and Point CounterPoint Chamber Music Camp. David studies composition with Dana Wilson and has written works for Solo Cello, Solo Piano, Solo Clarinet, Piano Trio, String Quartet and Sextet, Pierrot Ensemble, Voice and Piano, Trombone Quintet and is working on a cello concerto.

Zoe Fuentes

Zoe Fuentes

For April 17, 2015: Zoe Fuentes, 14, lives in Delancey, NY, and is a 9th grader at Delaware Academy. She has opened as a singer for children’s recording artist Elizabeth Mitchell at a Young Artist Showcase at West Kortright Centre in East Meredith, NY as well as Cantus here for The Oneonta Concert Association last spring.

Zoe participates in her high school choir as a soprano, and in the orchestra as a violinist. She has sung three solos in school concerts, including “Think of Me” from The Phantom of the Opera, which earned her a standing ovation. She has in the All-County Choir, and scored “Outstanding” on all vocal solos at NYSSMA (New York State School Music Association) festivals. She also is going to 2014’s Area All-State to sing in the woman’s choir.

Zoe has studied classical song literature for four years as well as piano basics. She hopes to attend the Juilliard School, and someday play the role of Christine in The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. She has appeared in the casts of Annie, The Wizard of Oz and The King and I at school, and plans to be in future school productions.

Zoe thanks her friends and family for supporting her, especially her grandfather who, before his passing, decided it was time for Zoe to get singing lessons. She also thanks her voice teacher, Johana Arnold.

On March 20, 2015 two Young Artists will be featured:

Owen Nied

Owen Nied

For March 20, 2015: Owen Nied is a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumental (guitar, bass, ukulele, piano, pianica and percussion) musician who has been performing since he was nine. In addition to playing solo, Owen also fronts the rock band Owen and the Nepotists, with whom he arranges, plays guitar and sings lead vocals with a quartet of experienced musicians, including world-jazz bassist Bobby Kendall. He is one half of the experimental jazz-fusion duo Two Headed Boy and the folk-rock group The Nieds. He is also lead guitarist, composer and arranger for The Onlys, a horn-driven trio that explores rock, jazz, Latin and funk. Owen is now producing a web-based music series called Live from Owen’s Porch in which he improvises live “jam” performances with other musicians while exploring multiple music genres including Americana, folk, blues and jazz.

Owen was a featured performer at the 2011 and 2012 Ukulele Festival of Great Britain, having been awarded an initial performance slot by winning a YouTube video competition. In 2013 Owen completed a tour of music clubs in Paris, France and in the summer of 2014 he toured the Southwest including performances in Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico. In November of this year he completed an original score for dance company Air Dance New Mexico’s 2015 season. Owen often performs for benefits and community events and has created and presented music education programs for elementary, middle and high schools.

Owen is a member of the Schoharie County, New York Youth Board and a Certified School Peer Mediator. When not performing or teaching music to private students, Owen sketches, paints, sculpts, and creates original short films through his own indie production company called Art in Fact Films. Owen lives with his mom, dad, and cat in Schoharie County, NY.

Dan Ainspan

Dan Ainspan

For March 20, 2015: Dan Ainspan is currently a senior at SUNY Oneonta, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Music Industry with Minors in both Audio Production and Percussion Performance.

As a percussionist, Dan has played in many different ensembles, including the SUNY Oneonta Jam Band, Percussion Ensemble, R&B Band, Zappa Band, and the Hartwick/Oneonta Rock Orchestra. Dan has also performed with nationally renowned Poetry Slam artist Regie Gibson, as well as various musical productions on campus, including Spring Awakening in the spring of 2014.

In the spring of 2012, Dan was voted President of the Drag ‘N Rolls Drumline. Dan is also a member of the Audio Production Engineering Club and Music Industry Club. Dan is currently in the Classical Percussion Ensemble and Zappa band and has been taking marimba and drumset lessons with Dr. Julie Licata and Blake Fleming. Dan has also studied under Dr. Joe Pignato, Richard Albagli, John Antonio, and drummer Joey Pucci from Joey Pucci and the American Longboards.

Jonathan Fenwick

Jonathan Fenwick

For Oct. 11, 2014: Jonathan Fenwick, is a high school junior from Ithaca, NY, who has played violin since age 4. Jonathan is co-concertmaster of the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and plays with an affiliated chamber group. During summer 2014 he attended the Young Artist Orchestral Program at Tanglewood, MA.

In 2013 he won the MTNA (Music Teachers National Association) New York State High School String Competition. He was recently selected to perform with the Conference All State Symphony Orchestra for NYSSMA (New York State School Music Association).

Jonathan is a student of Peter Rovit, and previously studied with Nicholas DiEugenio, with early instruction from Sanford Reuning. Jonathan also spent two years at Kinhaven Music Camp, three years at Greenwood Music Camp, and three years at Ithaca Advanced Suzuki Institute. Jonathan is also a composer and pianist and a member of the Ithaca High School Chamber Orchestra and Symphony Orchestra, and plays with an affiliated chamber group. He was formerly concertmaster of Ithaca Community Orchestra.

Lola Olson

Lola Olson

For Sept. 20, 2014: Lola Olson, a dancer attending high school in Delhi, NY, opens for Vanaver Caravan, as part of OCA’s first concert of the 2014-15 season.

Lola is 15, and studies at the Elite Dance Academy and the Donna Decker School of Ballet, both in downthown Oneonta, NY. As a member of Elite Dance Academy’s competition team, she has earned platinum and elite gold medals for her solo performances.

Lola also loves theater and has performed with Orpheus Theatre in Oneonta, the Franklin Stage Company, and at the West Kortright Centre.

She enjoys music, has received an outstanding score for her singing at area NYSSMA (New York State School Music Association) festivals. Lola also plays violin, ukulele, and piano.

 2013-2014 Season Young Artists:

Zak Aldridge

Zak Aldridge

For May 23, 2014: Zak Aldridge, who will play saxophone for OCA, is a senior at Milford Central School and first chair saxophonist in his school’s concert and jazz bands. Though his forte is jazz, he has participated in NYSSMA All-County and Area All-State bands, and enjoys all opportunities to perform.

Last year, Zak lived abroad as an exchange student in Thailand, where he learned to speak Thai and kept up his playing by participating in his school’s marching band. Zak comes from a musical family, including brother Sam, who plays percussion and sitar, and his mom, klezmer clarinetist Robin Seletsky.

Zak is considering college concentrations in fields related to international diplomacy and foreign languages, but is already certain he’ll remain a part of the music scene wherever he goes.

OCA Young Artist Neyen Romano

Neyen Romano

For April 25, 2014: Neyen Romano is a senior at Gilbertsville-Mt. Upton High School, and has been playing the flute since age 9. Neyen recently joined the Binghamton Symphony Youth Orchestra, under the direction of Barry Peters. He has also played in symphony and chamber orchestras at the New York Summer Music Festival at SUNY Oneonta, attending for the past five years.

Other activities include participating in a flute choir at Hartwick College in Oneonta, and playing at community events, including the Sherburne (NY) Pageant of Bands. Neyen is a member of his school concert and jazz bands, both under the direction of Mathew Oram. He also plays in the pit band for local musicals, and in other school ensembles, including a woodwind quintet and a flute quartet. Neyen has played in the NYSSMA (New York State School Music Association) All-County and Area-All State Band for several years. As a soloist, he has presented at NYSSMA multiple times, preparing Level 6 (top difficulty) solos.

Outside of school, Neyen studies under Ana Laura Gonzalez at Hartwick College. (Former teachers include Greg Pattillo, Joanne Grigoriev, and Bonnie Kim.) He plans to attend college as a music major, and become a member of a professional orchestra. Neyen lives with his parents and sister in Otego, NY.


Zoe Fuentes

For March 28, 2014: Zoe Fuentes, 13, lives in Delancey, NY, and is an 8th grader at Delaware Academy. She has opened as a singer for children’s recording artist Elizabeth Mitchell at a Young Artist Showcase at West Kortright Centre in East Meredith, NY.

Zoe participates in her middle school choir as a soprano, and in the orchestra as a violinist. She has sung three solos in school concerts, including “Think of Me” from The Phantom of the Opera, which earned her a standing ovation. She sings in the All-County Choir, and scored “Outstanding” on all vocal solos at NYSSMA (New York State School Music Association) festivals.

Zoe has studied classical song literature for three years as well as piano basics. She hopes to attend the Juilliard School, and someday play the role of Christine in The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. She has appeared in the casts of Annie and The Wizard of Oz at school, and plans to be in future school productions.

Zoe thanks her family for supporting her, especially her grandfather who, before his passing, decided it was time for Zoe to get singing lessons. She also thanks her voice teacher, Johana Arnold.

OCA YA Esther Witherell

Esther Witherell

For Oct. 25, 2013: Esther Witherell, 17, has a lot of flexibility to pursue the musical activities she enjoys, as a home-schooled high school student. She has studied violin with Liz Silver for six years, and along the way has been involved in music camps, chamber groups, and the Empire State Youth Orchestras (ESYO).

With ESYO, she traveled to China and South Korea on tour during the summer of 2012. Closer to home, she also enjoys performing in ESYO’s orchestra concerts several times a year.

Esther loves organizing and performing in chamber groups. In June, 2013, her string quartet was recorded for broadcast on WMHT-FM classical radio’s weekly program, “No Ticket Required.” WMHT public radio (89.1 FM) serves New York’s capital region and surrounding areas as an affiliate of NPR. The quartet included 2012-13 season OCA Young Artist Jacob Efthimiou on cello.

Esther lives with her family near Albany, NY. Her extracurricular activities include church youth group and Generation Joshua, a politically active group of Christian teens. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and playing with her siblings.

OCA Young Artist Owen Nied

Owen Nied

For Sept. 27, 2013: Owen Nied, is a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist (guitar, bass, violin, ukulele, banjo, saxophone, drums), who has performed since age 9. Owen debuted with OCA in 2012, opening for Scotland’s legendary Battlefield Band. Owen fronts the rock band Owen and the Nepotists, with whom he arranges, plays lead guitar and sings in a quartet of experienced adults.

Owen’s original music ranges from edgy/jazzy pop to blues/rock to punkabilly and is influenced by artists as diverse as Stevie Ray Vaughn, Dave Brubeck, Chuck Berry, and the Ramones. He made his international debut in 2011 at the Ukulele Festival of Great Britain and returned in 2012 as a performer. Owen also played club dates in London as part of a UK tour and has been invited to perform in Melbourne, Australia.

At home, Owen was chair violin of his school orchestra and jazz guitarist for his school’s stage band. Owen performs at benefits and community events, and on radio. He is a member of his county Youth Bureau, and is a certified School Peer Mediator. When not playing music, he sketches, paints, sculpts, cooks and creates cartoons. Owen lives with his mom, dad, and cat in upstate New York. To see Owen on YouTube: Owen Nied, Ukulele Homepage:

2012-2013 Season Young Artists:

OCA Young Artists Curtis & Cedric Taylor

Young Artists Curtis & Cedric Taylor

For May 17, 2013: Cedric Taylor lives in Margaretville, NY, and is brother to performing partner Curtis. Cedric, 16 is home-schooled, and started playing his violin six years ago.

He has performed at Delaware & Ulster Railroad events, for his church, and for the Open Eye Theatre, founded in 1972 in New York City by acclaimed dancer-choreographer Jean Erdman and her husband, renowned mythologist Joseph Campbell. The troupe expanded to year-round programming in the Catskill Mountains in 1994. Aside from music, Cedric enjoys soccer, basketball, reading, and cooking. He is pleased to play for OCA.

Curtis Taylor, is a home-schooler from Margaretville, NY, and younger brother to Cedric. He has studied violin for six years and has played with the Little Delaware Youth Ensemble for five years.

He also plays for The Open Eye Theatre in Delaware County, at events for Delaware & Ulster Railroad, and for church. When not playing violin, Curtis likes to play paintball, soccer and read. He is excited to be an OCA Young Artist.

Jacob Efthimiou

For April 5, 2013 and Nov. 30, 2012: Jacob Efthimiou began his study of the cello at age 10. He has been a member of the Empire State Youth Orchestra since fall 2009. He won the Lois Lyman Concerto Competition, and recently performed the winning piece, Cello Concerto No. 1 by Saint-Saëns, with the orchestra at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall.

In June 2012, he toured Asia with ESYO, performing as principal cellist in China and South Korea. Jacob won 3rd prize at the Anthony R. Stefan Scholarship Competition in 2012, and has been featured on WSKG Public Television’s Expressions series along with his three siblings.

Jacob’s musical studies began under Julian Wilcox, followed by study under Benjamin Whittenburg. He now studies with Nathaniel Parke, and has attended the New York Summer Music Festival for three years. He won the festival’s concerto competition in 2012. Jacob has performed with the Little Delaware Chamber Players and was a member of the Little Delaware Youth Ensemble and Footlights, a youth acting company. He remains active with the Central Delaware County Home-School Drama Club. College plans include studying music and academics. To see Jacob on YouTube:

OCA Young Artist Emily Bartz

Emily Bartz

For March 8, 2013: Emily Bartz has been playing flute for seven years, many of those for the Binghamton Youth Symphony, often as first flute or principal chair. She received A+’s on all flute, piccolo, and piano New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) solos during high school, and 2nd place in the Empire State Youth Competition in Ithaca (2011) and Rochester (2012). She placed first in the STMTA’s spring competition in 2010 and 2011, and performed a solo concerto with the Binghamton Community Orchestra.

Emily enjoyed the New York State Summer Music Festival at the SUNY at Oneonta in the summers of 2011 and 2012, and was awarded a scholarship and principal chair in the Chamber Orchestra. She won the Binghamton Youth Symphony Concerto Competition. She played flute and piccolo in the pit orchestras for a community production of My Fair Lady and a high school production of Beauty & the Beast. She offers private flute lessons to students.

Outside of music, Emily enjoys soccer, participating in local dramatic productions, art, and hanging out with friends. College plans include pursuing music and academics. Emily is honored to open for OCA. She thanks especially her flute teacher Nina Stutzman, her family (particularly her parents), and friends for their inspiration, love and support.

For Oct. 5 2012: Owen Nied Owen performed in 2012, and returned by popular demand to open for OCA’s Sept. 27, 2013 concert. See his photo and full biography above, in the 2013-14 season Young Artists section.

OCA Community Outreach

Part of OCA’s mission is to provide free informative presentations for students and the community in connection with our concerts. Free school workshops, master classes, demonstrations, pre-concert lectures, and other educational sessions are offered in addition to concerts. OCA co-sponsors events with other community groups, including the Catskill Symphony Orchestra, Hartwick College, SUNY Oneonta, Catskill Choral Society, Catskill Conservatory, the Community Arts Network of Oneonta (CANO), and Friends of the Oneonta Theatre.

Vanaver Caravan

Vanaver Caravan

OCA’s 2016-17 season outreach began with classes and a performance for local elementary students by the Koresh Dance Company in the fall. Outreach by members of the Todd Williams Quartet is planned for the spring.

OCA’s 2015-16 season began with Arts Field Day at Greater Plains School, where the dancers of Taylor 2 conducted workshops for the entire school, followed by a Goodrich Theater performances. Other educational activities in the 2015-16 season included student outreach with Mike Holober’s Gotham Jazz Orchestra, who conducted workshops for two local high school jazz bands.

OCA’s 2014-15 season included Arts Field Days at both Greater Plains and Valleyview Elementary Schools, which provided a full school day of arts-related activities for each school. School performances at Goodrich Theater and Oneonta Theatre with The Vanaver Caravan and the Grace Kelly Jazz Quartet served these schools and additional area students. A community “jam session” with Vanaver Caravan folk artists took place in September.

OHS students dance with Koresh

OHS students gotta dance

FOR 2013-14:
On Sept. 26, 2013, members of Koresh Dance Company of Phildelphia visited students at Oneonta High School during physical education class. The students got a dance lesson from the professional performers, ahead of the troupe’s performances Sept. 27 and 28 at SUNY Oneonta. Koresh Dance hosts season performances and dance workshops in the company’s hometown, Philadelphia. For more photos of the OHS event, visit the school district’s web site:

Other recent outreach events in 2014 coincided with appearances of premier men’s vocal group Cantus, and with Manhattan Brass and Arts Field Day.

For 2012-2013:
OCA featured free community and school workshops and events by New York’s Taylor 2 dance company in May 2012, violinist Tim Fain in November 2012, and early music ensemble Chatham Baroque in March 2013.

Chatham Baroque at Riverside

Chatham Baroque at Riverside

CHATHAM BAROQUE: On March 8, 2013, area audiences attended a morning preview of the early music ensemble’s evening performance at the Oneonta Theatre. The preview also featured Chatham’s guest vocal and dance artists, and was followed by questions from the audience.

The Red Caboose Restaurant on Main Street in Oneonta hosted a “pre-concert dinner” for evening OCA concert-goers. The Red Caboose specializes in creative local culinary fare.

On March 7, the group hosted a free performance and workshop for students at Riverside Elementary School in Oneonta. The artists explored historical time periods of their music and instruments, and answered questions. A number of students expressed a desire “play instruments like that” in school. Following the presentation, dance majors from SUNY Oneonta worked with Riverside students on Baroque dance as part of school physical education classes.

Violinist Tim Fain hosted a workshop on the making of his multi-media show "Portals" at The Oneonta Theatre on Nov. 29, 2012.

Tim Fain workshop

TIM FAIN: On Nov. 29, 2012, students from SUNY Oneonta learned about the making of the violinist’s new multi-media show, “Portals.” Fain was featured in the 2010 Academy Award-winning film “Black Swan.” His multi-media show featured video clips from the film’s choreographer, audio from other performers, and a commissioned work by Philip Glass. Fain’s playing was also featured in the 2005 film “Bee Season,” starring Richard Gere.

At a free workshop at Oneonta Theatre, Fain fielded questions and talked about career paths in the performing arts. For aspiring performers, he stressed the importance of “making your own opportunities” and being open to using emerging technologies to enhance presentation. Some students captured Fain’s comments on their own favorite tech devices: cell phones.

TAYLOR 2: On May 11, 2012, students from area elementary schools were treated to a preview and workshop by New York’s Taylor 2 dance company at the Oneonta Theatre. Artists discussed how movement affects children’s daily lives, and answered questions from “future dancers.” Company members performed works from their repertoire and demonstrated steps for students. “Really cool,” was how one student described his field trip.

Anniversary Gala

Curtis & Cedric Taylor

Curtis & Cedric Taylor at the Foothills gala

85th GALA WITH RON CARTER TRIO: OCA hosted an 85th anniversary celebration on May 17, 2013, at the Foothills Performing Arts and Civic Center in Oneonta. The evening featured Grammy-winning jazz bassist Ron Carter and his Golden Striker Trio, with a pre-concert performance in the Foothills Atrium by OCA Young Artists (and brothers) Cedric and Curtis Taylor on violin.

Also at the gala was a refreshment table featuring gourmet dessert creations by Daniella D’Amico of Culinary Indulgences of Unadilla, and a silent auction fundraiser featuring items generously donated from businesses and the community. (See more photos on the “OCA News” page of this site.)

Carter, with more than 2,000 albums to his credit, has played with many greats, including Lena Horne and B.B. King. The trio also featured Russell Malone on guitar, and Donald Vega on piano. The group appeared in Oneonta fresh from a stint at the famed Blue Note in New York.

Arts Field Day

Arts Field Day, begun for OCA’s 2012-13 season, is a community-wide project celebrating the performing arts by featuring programs in area schools, in connection with OCA’s May concerts.

ARTS FIELD DAY 2013: Oneonta elementary students enjoyed several educational programs in connection with the appearance of Ron Carter’s Golden Striker Trio, as part of the city’s second annual Arts Field Day. Below is an excerpt about the day’s events from the Oneonta City School District’s web site. View the post and more photos at

“Riverside Arts Day–Through grant funding and a strong partnership with the Oneonta Concert Association, Riverside Elementary students joined in a celebration of the arts last Friday May 17. After learning about the Baroque era, students were able to experience live performances and perform themselves during a full day of arts appreciation. Students listened and watched as OCA Young Artist Owen Nied, an internationally known teen musician and singer/songwriter, performed in the morning. Students were able to interact and participate during a workshop on percussion and string instruments, and learned how the Baroque period of history heavily influenced modern music including jazz.

Owen Nied at Riverside

Owen Nied at Riverside

Ron Carter engages students at foothills.

Ron Carter engages students at Foothills session

Arts Field Day 2013 for students at Riverside Elementary.

Arts Field Day 2013 for students at Riverside Elementary

Students enjoyed a picnic lunch and recess on the school lawn in the afternoon, returning to perform their own interpretations of the Baroque era. Performances included a Shakespeare play, Beethoven on the recorder and Baroque high-fashion sunglasses.

Soon after, all students and staff walked to the Foothills Performing Arts Center to enjoy an interactive performance by the Ron Carter Trio. Ron Carter, a world famous jazz bassist, took questions from the audience and played Baroque influenced jazz pieces for the students. A great day was had by all!”