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Catskill Symphony Orchestra

Symphony Cabaret, Basketball Playoffs Cancelled

COVID-19 IMPACTS DAILY LIFE

Symphony Cabaret,

Playoffs Cancelled

Send Cancellation Notices To info@allotsego.com

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

CDC images of coronavirus

ONEONTA – Citing the fears about Coronavirus and taking a lead from other organizations around the state, the Catskill Symphony Orchestra just announced that they are canceling their annual Cabaret, scheduled for Saturday, March 14.

“We need to pause and see what happens in our area with the virus,” said Diane Williams, CSO chair, in an email. “At this time, we have no plans to reschedule it.”

Soon, Sounds Of Beethoven, Mozart, More Zoltowski Here For Cabaret, But Looking Toward Future

Soon, Sounds

Of Beethoven,

Mozart, More

Zoltowski Here For Cabaret,

But Looking Toward Future

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

CSO conductor Maciej Zoltowski explores Oneonta. He is in town for his first Cabaret Concert this weekend at the Dewar Arena. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

ONEONTA – Within four days of his arrival, Maciej Zoltowski, the musical director designee for the Catskill Symphony Orchestra, had already made himself at home in Oneonta.

“I take a walk every morning,” he said. “I love the area already, it’s very beautiful and relaxing. I attended the wind concert at Hartwick College the first night I was here; I didn’t want to miss any opportunity to see local music and meet with people.”

Maciej, the former managing and artistic director of the Radom Chamber Orchestra in Poland, arrived in Oneonta on Thursday, March 5, a week ahead of his official debut at the CSO’s annual Cabaret Concert.

“We’re opening the concert with an overture by Johann Strauss, then three of the ‘Slavonic Dances’ by Antonin Dvorak,” he said. “Everyone knows these tunes, but they’re very challenging for the orchestra.”

The cabaret will also feature America’s Got Talent Golden Buzzer winner Mandy Harvey, who will perform jazz standards, as well as her own songs. “It is music from the 30s through the 50s,” he said. “Back when songs had lyrics and a melody! I watched her appearance on America’s Got Talent and she is really something.”

The concert will also include the annual Guest Conductor Competition, where are June Sheehan, retired OHS music teacher and organist at St. James Episcopal Church, Jimmy Hamm, Soxedo general manager at SUNY Oneonta, and Michael Walling, Community Bank senior district manager & vice president, Oneonta, will vie to conduct “Stars And Stripes Forever” at the show’s conclusion.

Maciej, a native of Warsaw, studied violin as a young man, and began directing the choir at the F. Chopin Academy of Music, where he graduated in 1997 with degrees in violin, composing and conducting.

While conducting on a Hungarian TV competition, he caught the eye of judge Yuri Simonov, who invited him to attend master classes. He has conducted the National Symphony Orchestra of the Polish Radio and was the artistic director of the Cyprus State Orchestra.

Arriving from Warsaw for two weeks in Oneonta, Maciej is staying for now at SUNY Oneonta President Barbara Jean Morris’ guest house. “I plan to be here for six weeks in the spring and six weeks in the fall,” he said.

And even in a week, he has already begun to put together the 2020-21 season. On Oct. 10, the symphony will join the world in celebrating Beethoven’s 250th birthday with a concert featuring pianist Sara Daneshpour, who took third place in the 2017 Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Competition, playing his “Piano Concerto No. 1.”

Maciej Zoltowski conducts the CSO during his tryout in December.

In November, the CSO will present the one-act chamber opera, “Mozart and Salieri,” with singers from the Yale School of Music. “I’ve never conducted it before,” he said. “And in the second half, the audience will have a chance to compare, as we’ll play a piece by Salieri and one by Mozart.”

A Cabaret in April 2021 will close out the season and Polish-American pianist Adam Wodnicki as the special guest.

In addition to the symphony’s four concerts, he has begun planning a fifth concert, specifically geared for families. “It’s another way of extending the orchestra,” he said. “We want to do a matinee of the music of fairy tales. Right now, we’re just looking for sponsors!”

He has also begun working with the colleges to increase the turnout of students and young people at the symphony.

“One of the ideas we have is to have a competition among the music departments and the winner would get to play a concerto with the symphony,” he said. “But we don’t just want to see music majors at our concerts. Some of the people who are most interested in musical arts are the ones majoring in math, physics, not necessarily the humanities. They like going to concerts!”

And he wants to get the word out about the pre-concert talks by speaking on the campus. “The concerts are accessible, but sometimes, people need an introduction,” he said. “We take it for granted that people know who Mozart is.”

‘Prayer For Peace” Premiered At Temple Beth El Concert

‘Prayer For Peace’ Begins

At Temple Beth El Concert

Above, members of Eight is Eneuf sing “Prayer for Peace”, written by Robin Eletsky, Milford, in it’s first public performance at Temple Beth El in Oneonta this afternoon during the Music From Around The World concert to celebrate our shared humanity. Musical guests included Rabbi George Hirschfeld, Ana Laura Gonzalez, Stan Fox and Andy Puritz. Among the audience was Maciej Żółtowski, newly chosen conductor of the Catskill Symphony Orchestra, seen at right, applauding alongside Laurie Zimniewicz, Oneonta. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

Bank VP, Organist And Sodexo Manager Set To Via In Conductor Contest

Bank VP, Organist, Sodexo GM

Compete In Conductor Contest

Walling
Hamm
Sheehan

ONEONTA – The Catskill Symphony Orchestra today announced three prominent Oneonta community members will compete in the annual Guest Conductor Contest at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 14, at SUNY Oneonta’s Dewar Arena.

The annual concert will feature Mandy Harvey, a Golden Buzzer winner from “America’s Got Talent” as the special guest, and will also mark the debut of Music Director designee Maciej Zółtowski, who was selected as the orchestra’s new conductor after a year-long search.

Catskill Symphony Search Decides On Polish Conductor

MACIEJ ZOLTOWSKI CHOSEN

Catskill Symphony

Search Decides On

Polish Conductor

Maciej Zoltowski, director of the Radom Chamber Orchestra in Poland, accepts accolades from the audience at the Catskill Symphony Orchestra concert he conducted in November at SUNY Oneonta’s Hunt Union Ballroom. At right is Janet Nepkie, founder of the college’s Music Industry major and lead cellist. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA – In the end, The Catskill Symphony Orchestra chose Maciej Zoltowski.

“In advance of the first rehearsal, Maciej asked for a roster and he studied it,” said Diane Williams, CSO board chair. “One musician told me that pleased him so much that Maciej knew his name when he called on him.”

The selection of Maciej, the former managing and artistic director of the Radom Chamber Orchestra in Poland, as the orchestra’s music director designee comes at the end of a two-year conductor search, following the retirement of maestro Charles Schneider.

“Chuck conducted for 45 years,” said Williams. “It’s been very different for the orchestra, having three conductors this season, but we felt that Maciej was the best fit. We believe he will transition beautifully and bring his own essence to the symphony.”

In November, Maciej conducted “The Fairy Tale,” the third and final in the conductor search series. Finalists Silas Huff conducting “The Firebird” in September and Carolyn Watson, “The Elements” in October.

The three finalists were whittled down from 73 applicants and six semi-finalists, then the search committee took surveys from both the musicians and the audience.

“The audience liked all of the conductors,” said Williams. “And what we really wanted to know is if they enjoyed the concert and if they would be interested in attending the next season. But the audience did not have one negative thing to say about any of the candidates.”

But weighing more heavily was the survey of the musicians. “Maciej was a very strong candidate not just musically, but the way he was able to work with the orchestra in such a short period of time,” said Williams. “He has a broad experience, and really was the best fit.”

“We think Maciej has a great vision for growing the orchestra in style and skill,” said Laurie Zimniewicz, chair of the search committee. “The musicians had great things to say about all three conductor finalists, but they strongly supported Maciej.”

Four musicians sat on the search committee, who was tasked with compiling both sets of surveys and delivering a list of strengths and weaknesses to the board, who made the final decision.

In addition to the surveys, the candidates were introduced to members of the community, including presidents Hartwick College and SUNY Oneonta and the Glimmerglass Festival, as well as asked to put together a budget for their concert season. “The symphony has to remain strong financially or there won’t be a symphony,” said Williams. “Maciej came in at or under budget.”

Maciej will still need to get a visa before he can officially get the job; until then, he is the designee. He will make his first formal appearance at the CSO’s annual Cabaret Concert on Saturday, March 14, which will also feature the annual Guest Conductor Competition and a performance by Mandy Harvey, a deaf jazz singer who finished fourth on “America’s Got Talent” in 2017.

“He is already excited and has started working with Thomas Wolfe to put things in place for that concert,” said Williams. “He hasn’t selected his pieces yet, but he’ll also be working with Mandy to help pick her pieces.”

“I’m happy we’ve come to the conclusion,” said Williams. “We’re so fortunate that things worked out so well.”

 

 

 

Polish Conductor Named New CSO Music Director

Polish Conductor

Will Take Podium

As CSO Conductor

After Three Auditions,

Musicians Choose Maciej

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Maciej Żółtowski addresses the crowd ahead of his concert, “The Fairy Tale” (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

ONEONTA – Maciej Żółtowski, the former managing and artistic director of the Radom Chamber Orchestra in Poland, has been named the Music Director designee of the Catskill Symphony Orchestra, search committee chair Laurie Zimniewicz announced.

“We think Maciej has a great vision for growing the orchestra in style and skill,” said Zimniewicz. “The musicians had great things to say about all three conductor finalists, but they strongly supported Maciej.”

In addition to Żółtowski, finalists Silas Huff and Carolyn Watson each conducted a concert; Huff conducted “The Firebird” in September and Watson conducted “The Elements” in October.

Żółtowski will make his debut as the music director at the annual Cabaret Concert on Saturday, March 14.

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for MONDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2019
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for MONDAY, DECEMBER 23

Save A Life This Holiday Season

14-19eventspage

BLOOD DRIVE – 1 – 6 p.m. Give Blood, save a life with American Red Cross. Walk-ins welcome. Clark Sports Center, Cooperstown. 607-547 2800 or visit www.redcrossblood.org/give.html/drive-results?zipSponsor=13326

BLOOD DRIVE – 2:30 – 6:30 p.m. Give Blood, save a life with American Red Cross. Walk-ins welcome. Community Center, Walnut St., Richfield Springs. 1-800-733-2767 or visit www.redcrossblood.org/give.html/drive-results?zipSponsor=13326

That’s A Wrap!

That’s A Wrap!

Annual CSO Gift Wrapping

Returns To Southside Mall

Sarah Patterson, Oneonta, gift-wraps presents for Chrsitmas shoppers at the Southside Mall Saturday afternoon at the gift-wrapping station near Bath & Body Works.  It’s an annual tradition to help benefit the Catskill Symphony Orchestra and will continue until Christmas Eve. Hours are Sunday 12-6pm, Monday 10am-8pm and Tuesday 10am-5pm. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
Conductor Search: What A Treat, Opportunity

EDITORIAL

Conductor Search:

What A Treat, Opportunity

Now, THAT’S marketing – in the nicest possible light.

On learning its venerable founding conductor, Chuck Schneider, was retiring after 46 years, The Catskill Symphony Orchestra Governing Board could have simply advertised for a new one, sorted the resumes, interviewed top prospects and made a decision.

Instead of handling matters in-house, the search committee threw open the decision-making to the public; not exclusively, of course, but it encouraged attendees at three concerts this fall – and the musicians, too – to fill out questionnaires assessing each candidates’ strengths.

And what a lesson for veteran concertgoers and newcomers alike, to see three conductors from different parts of the globe – Silas Huff, who rose through conducting the 44th U.S. Army Band, Carolyn Watson from Australia (now in Kansas), and Maciej Zoltowski from Poland – perform widely varying programs in markedly different styles.

“The biggest surprise is: we got 73 applicants – nationally and internationally,” said Laurie Zimniewicz, search committee chair. “We were like, wow.”

So, as you can imagine, all three have terrific credentials. Google them.


The conductors designed their own programs and invited in soloists, and each evening was at times gripping, even for the not-so-aficionados/experts among we audience members.

Huff began with Strauss, which swept audience members onto their feet, and ended with Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite,” another crowd pleaser. He was the most engaging in his remarks from the podium.
Watson was precise, intense, all energy.

Her selections were the most edgy, beginning with Higdon’s percussion-heavy “Fanfare Ritmico.” But if you were surprised at the outset, you were captured by the end.

Zoltowski was Tchaikovsky heavy – two of the three pieces. But what Tchaikovsky! The audience was rapt as pianist Alex McDonald, brought in from Texas, accompanied the CSO on Piano Concerto #1 – an emotional highpoint of the season, for sure.

To see three different conductors at their trade – one each in September, October and November – was a
rare opportunity around here, and mind-expanding.

It was satisfying to learn how the community responded: Attendance grew over the three concerts; subscriptions grew. Doing well by doing good. Nice.

The Search Committee won’t make the final decision, but will present an assessment Dec.10 to the CSO Governing Board, including graphs depicting how the audience and the CSO musicians rated the three.

The plan is to give the most weight to the musicians’ inputs. “Without a happy orchestra, we won’t have an orchestra,” she said, and she has a point.

Still, there’s more to that.

Will a conductor’s taste in music help fill the house? Will he or she be able to reach out to all constituencies – the musicians, yes, but also audiences, the board and, if the institution is to grow and prosper, the community?

Will the conductor be able to think like an executive, to strategize, to identify opportunities and chart the future? And, in doing so, to productively collaborate with CSO President Diane Williams, the Governing Board and Executive Director Thomas Wolfe.

In short, the Governing Board may be guided by others’ perspectives, but in the end, it must make its own decision.

In part, that decision will be with an eye to the future: How to attract a younger audience. As a side benefit, conductor candidates have provided a rich list of ideas on how to do this, Zimniewicz said.

The Catskill Symphony Orchestra, based in Oneonta, was founded in 1973. That’s almost half a century ago. It can be taken for granted. But it shouldn’t be.

At a time when major cities are losing their orchestras, ours continues to thrive. If you haven’t partaken, this is a good time to put a toe in the water.

The conductor should be chosen around the first of the year and will direct the CSO’s annual Cabaret Concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 14, in SUNY Oneonta’s Dewar Arena. You’ll be glad you did.

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