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Catskill Symphony Orchestra happy to bring back ‘cabaret’ performance

Tickets available now for March 26 gala

Pandemic restrictions prohibited it, but this year, the Catskill Symphony Orchestra picks up where it left off and presents its annual Cabaret Concert and Guest Conductor Competition fundraiser with headliner Mandy Harvey on Saturday, March 26 at SUNY Oneonta’s Alumni Field House.

They’re doing it with flair, of course – presenting the same program they had planned for the 2020 Cabaret that was cancelled by COVID shut-downs just two days before its performance. CSO Executive Director Cassandra Miller said the event marks a new and special rebirth for the Orchestra.

“It’s the first time the entire symphony will have been together for a performance in two years,” she said. “We’ll have the full group of more than 50 musicians on the same stage, and it’s the first time the new Maestro will conduct the group as one.”

Maestro Maciej Zoltowski became the new conductor of the CSO for its 2021-22 season.

“It’s an event the community really looks forward to, not just to hear our impressive orchestra perform popular music with a headliner, but because people love the guest conductor competition,” said CSO board chair Sarah Patterson.

This year’s guest conductor candidates: Dr. Tracy Allen, a dean at SUNY Oneonta (“The Geologist”), Stagecoach Coffee co-owner Matt Grady (“The Connoisseur”), and former Director of Oneonta Public Transit Paul Patterson (“The Fleetmeister”). Whichever of the three raise the most funds for the Orchestra wins the privilege of conducting the Cabaret’s finale, “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”

“People do love the competition,” Ms. Miller said. “The candidates get all kinds of creative putting together their pitch to try to win the conductor’s baton for that finale. It’s great fun!”

The annual fundraiser attracts big crowds each year, and Ms. Miller said the CSO will this year take careful precautions to follow public health protocol. At press time, she said they plan to require guests to wear masks during the event and will spread tables throughout the Field House – accommodating fewer guests but acknowledging social distancing requirements.

A silent auction kicks off the evening at 6 p.m. with Oneonta radio host Leslie Ann Parmerter as emcee, with the concert beginning at 7 p.m. in a performance of Slavonic Dances by Dvorak and A Night in Venice Overture by Strauss. The guest conductor candidates make their final appeals before intermission, followed by the second half of the concert featuring jazz-pop vocalist Mandy Harvey; she’ll sing popular songs ranging from standards (“In The Wee Small Hours of the Morning”) to contemporary classics like Radiohead’s “Creep,” backed by her band and the orchestra.

Ms. Harvey was a golden-buzzer winner on America’s Got Talent in the popular show’s 12th season, an inspirational speaker who lost her residual hearing at the age of 19. She tours the world performing her original music and presenting her never-give-up story.

Tickets for the event are $50 and include the concert and light refreshments. Visit for more information and tickets and/or to vote for guest conductor candidates.


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