An American Salute Closes ONNY's 36th Season

The 36th season of the Orchestra of Northern New York welcomed four new guest conductors and completed an 18-month search for a new Music Director. Now, ONNY prepares to close the season with its ever-popular summer Pops concert, An American Salute, conducted by new Music Director Michael J. Colburn.

The concert takes place Tuesday, July 2 at 8 pm in Thompson Park, Watertown; Wednesday, July 3 at 7:30 pm in Hosmer Hall, SUNY Potsdam; and Thursday, July 4 at 7 pm on the Thousand Island Park Green on Wellesley Island. Only the July 3 concert is a ticketed event. Children twelve and under are always admitted for free. For more information about ticket prices, visit

The program includes several patriotic works such as John Philip Sousa’s The Liberty Bell March and The Stars and Stripes Forever; Gould’s American Salute, and Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. The concert also features Gershwin’s Cuban Overture, John Williams’ the Cowboys, Leroy Anderson’s The Syncopated Clock, and selections from Rodgers and Bennett’s The Sound of Music.

A current audience development initiative allows newcomers who have never been to an ONNY concert to attend for free in return for one’s email address. Tickets can be acquired the night of the concert at the Guest Services table.

ONNY Hires New Music Director

Following a nearly two-year research/interview/deliberation process involving 84 applicants from around the U.S. Canada, and Europe, the Board of Directors of the Orchestra of Northern New York voted unanimously to accept the Music Director Search Committee’s recommendation to hire Michael J. Colburn, North Hero, VT, as its Music Director.

Timothy L. Savage, immediate past president of ONNY and chair of the Music Director Search Committee, said in a prepared statement, “We are grateful that the Board unanimously accepted this recommendation, and thrilled that Colburn has accepted the offer to be ONNY’s next Music Director!”

“The search committee also believed that Mike possesses the disposition, talents, and experience that will allow ONNY to continue to attract quality musicians and build on its loyal following of volunteers, donors, and concert-goers,” Savage added.

Colburn was selected for his artistic excellence, demonstrated leadership at the national level, potential for fundraising and audience development, and interest in community outreach.

"I couldn’t be more excited about succeeding Kenneth Andrews as the Music Director of the Orchestra of Northern New York!” Colburn says. “I had such a wonderful time working with the musicians of ONNY during my audition week, and greatly look forward to working with them in an effort to expand the impact of ONNY on the arts and music education landscape of the North Country."

Maestro Colburn is a freelance guest conductor and clinician who regularly leads professional and student ensembles in festivals, residencies, and a variety of other settings throughout the country.

In July 2022, he was appointed as Music Director of the Me2/Orchestra in Burlington, VT. In January 2023, he joined the faculty of the University of Vermont in an adjunct capacity.

From 2014-2022, Colburn served as the Director of Bands at Butler University in Indianapolis, where he conducted the Butler University Wind Ensemble and offered instruction in conducting, euphonium, and the history and literature of the wind band.

Colburn served for 27 years in “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band, where he held various positions including Principal Euphonium (1991-1996), Assistant Director (1996-2004), and Director (2004-2014).

As Director, he was music advisor to the White House and regularly conducted the Marine Band and Chamber Orchestra at the Executive Mansion and at the Presidential Inaugurations of George W. Bush and Barack Obamas.

He was promoted to Colonel by President Bush in a private Oval Office ceremony in 2007. In 2014, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal by General James Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps, and the Medal of Honor by the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic Board of Directors.

He is currently Vice President for Project Enhancement for the John Philip Sousa Foundation, and is a member of Washington, D.C.’s prestigious Gridiron and Alfalfa Clubs.

Colburn’s responsibilities at ONNY will include articulating the artistic vision and direction for ONNY, recommending programs and repertoire to the Board’s Programming Committee, serving as an ambassador to all ONNY stakeholders, and working collaboratively with the Executive Director and Board of Directors on strategic planning. He will plan all artistic offerings, prepare and conduct the orchestra for concerts in 2024-2025, oversee youth programs, engage in community outreach, and help promote ONNY. His tenure begins June 3, 2024.

The Board is grateful to the Music Director Search Committee members for their 21 months of hard work and dedication identifying the next artistic leader of this 36-year-old organization.

ONNY Appeals for Support for its Most Expensive Concert

An American Salute, the summer Pops concert of the 36th season of the Orchestra of Northern New York will be presented three times – July 2 at Thompson Park in Watertown, July 3 at SUNY Potsdam’s Hosmer Hall in Potsdam, and July 4 at Thousand Island Park on Wellesley Island.

More than 60 professional musicians will entertain under the very capable baton of Michael Colburn, who was recently appointed Music Director of the North Country’s only professional symphony orchestra. The program includes patriotic favorites such as John Philip Sousa’s Liberty Bell March and Stars and Stripes. Also, John Williams’ The Cowboys, Leroy Anderson’s The Syncopated Clock, and selections from the Bennett arrangement of Richard Rodgers’ The Sound of Music, among others works.

While this summer blockbuster is exciting, it is also the most expensive that ONNY will have produced since last year’s Pops program. The total cost to produce this concert is $39,089. And ONNY finds itself $10,000 short of its fundraising goal for this year.

As ONNY wraps up this year, it has much of which to be proud artistically. However, it needs to work diligently in the next six weeks to ensure that the 2023-2024 season is also a financial success.

Donations make it possible to experience another thrilling night of live music for thousands of concertgoers because the summer Pops concert is not only the largest ensemble and most expensive concert ONNY produces, but it also is the most well-attended program. Music lovers willing to donate in the final weeks of the year will give musicians three more opportunities to highlight their talents. And the public’s generosity will ensure that discounted tickets continue to be offered for seniors, military personnel and veterans, and healthcare workers and first responders. 

For more information, visit or call 315-212-3440. Checks may be mailed to ONNY at PO Box 488, Potsdam, NY 13676. The Orchestra of Northern New York is a charitable nonprofit organization to which contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Area Teens Excel at ONNY’s Challenge for Young Artists

They came from Potsdam and Rome, from Lisbon and Fort Edwards, and from Massena and Beaver Falls. Fifteen exceptional middle school and high school students participated in the second annual Vernice N. Church Challenge for Young Artists on April 13 in Hosmer Hall. The program, sponsored by The Orchestra of Northern New York, gives valuable feedback to teens “pursuing artistic growth” and preparing for the NYSSMA event in May.

Five students from Beaver River Central School sang and each received an amazing music lesson from Donald George, Crane Voice Faculty and ONNY soloist. Other students from around the North Country performed on alto saxophone, cello, violin, trombone, piano, and French horn. They were given expert advice from ONNY musicians about how to maximize their potential at NYSSMA.

Mrs. Church was also in attendance and said she was “thrilled at the music education that happened today.”

Shown here is French horn player Macks Hollis, Lisbon, and the panel of adjudicators. Other local students from Potsdam Central Schools included violinists Sarvesh Sitaraman, Porter Fite, Maxwell Yu and Celeste Darie who also performed on piano, and cellist and pianist Constantine Darie. Massena Central students Nicholas Gilbert on alto sax and Aden Thompson on violin also participated.

Macks Hollis

ONNY Finalist to Conduct Spring Concert

The Orchestra of Northern New York will present its spring concert, Visions & Reflections, on April 27 at 7:30 pm in Hosmer Hall, SUNY Potsdam, and on April 28 at 3 pm in the First Presbyterian Church, 403 Washington St., Watertown. Adrian Slywotzky, the second and final candidate for ONNY’s Music Director position, programmed the concert and will conduct the 56-piece orchestra.

Adrian Slywotzky is a prize winner of the Atlantic Coast International Conducting Competition (Portugal, 2016) and the Audite International Conducting Competition (Poland, 2017).

He was the founding conductor of the Yale Medical Symphony Orchestra, and from 2007 – 2010 music director of the New Haven Chamber Orchestra. Adrian has conducted Yale’s New Music Directions Ensemble. He has also served as Associate Conductor and Artist Advisor of the Boston Youth Symphony and as teaching fellow for the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra.

Adrian served as Associate Director of Orchestras at the University of Michigan from 2019 – 2022 and currently is Director of Orchestras at the Crane School of Music.

He holds degrees in orchestral conducting from the University of Michigan and the Yale School of Music. As a violinist, he has participated in festivals including Tanglewood Music Center, California Summer Music, and the Norfolk Contemporary Music Festival. He earned a BA in architecture from Yale College and an MM in violin performance from the Yale School of Music.

The program opens with the Overture from The Abduction of the Seraglio by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Written in 1782, the Abduction from the Seraglio is a rescue opera in which the heroics of the rescuers are thwarted by the magnanimity of the chief villain.  With its quasi-exotic orchestration (piccolo, triangle, big drum, and cymbals added to the standard combination), the Overture is in the old Italian style, notwithstanding that Mozart wrote Seraglio for the anti-Italian, German form of musical theater, the Singspiel.

The second work to be performed is Dolores White’s, “Crystal Gazing.” It is a meditative and mysterious piece that invites us to muse on both the visible and spiritual qualities of crystals. The Cleveland Chamber Symphony has many CDs and its “The New American Scene No. 2″ CD features the works of five outstanding African American composers, including White’s “Crystal Gazing”.

Next on the program is Le Tombeau de Couperin by Maurice Ravel. It pays tribute both to his Baroque predecessors and to friends he had lost in the First World War. Originally composed for piano, Ravel described the work as an homage “directed less in fact to Couperin himself than to French music of the 18th century.”

The concert culminates with the soaring and glorious Symphony No. 2 by Jean Sibelius. It is a four-movement work for orchestra written from 1901 to 1902 by Finland’s most accomplished composer. Sibelius himself referred to the piece as “a confession of the soul.” After sold-out performances in Helsinki, revisions were made, and the new piece premiered in 1903 in Stockholm. Composer, pianist, and music critic Oskar Merikanto exclaimed that it "exceeded even the highest expectations.”

For tickets, visit or call 315-212-3440.

Music in Our Schools Month

The Orchestra of Northern New York acknowledges with deepest thanks all the school music teachers in the North Country and Adirondacks who introduce students to the power of music to inspire, educate, and entertain. Whether vocal or instrumental, music has an incredible impact on participants.
"Music deserves to be the mandatory second language of all schools in the world."
— Paul Carvel, Belgian Author

"Research shows that at-least some musical education has a positive impact on social and cognitive development of children. And these effects are long lasting – better hearing, better motor skills, improved memory, better verbal and literacy skills."
— Alan Harvey, Musician and Neuroscientist

"The things I learned from my experience in music in school are discipline, perseverance, dependability, composure, courage and pride in results… Not a bad preparation for the workforce!"
— Gregory Anrig, President, Educational Testing Service

ONNY Holiday Concert This Saturday

The Brass Ensemble of the Orchestra of Northern New York performs its Holiday in Brass concert this Saturday at 7:30 pm in Hosmer Hall, SUNY Potsdam and is sure to put concertgoers in a festive holiday spirit. As the world celebrates Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa this month, so does ONNY.

Both sacred and secular Christmas pieces will be presented, ranging from “O Come, O Come Emanuel” and “While by My Sheep” to a variety of musical works including selections from the animated cartoons How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Anthony DiLorenzo’s setting of ’Twas the Night Before Christmas will also be presented.

ONNY will commemorate Hanukkah with the Bill Holcombe medley The Sounds of Hanukkah that includes “Moz Tsur” (“Rock of Ages”), “Mi Y’Malel” (“Who Can Retell”), “My Dreidel,” “S’Vivon” (“Spin Dreidel”), and “Hanukkah, O Hanukkah.” 

Kwanzaa will also be celebrated with a performance of Valerie Coleman’s composition Umoja—The First Day of Kwanzaa. Umoja is the Swahili word for unity and begins the annual seven-day celebration that strives for unity in family, community, nation, and race.

Tickets are available online at, by calling 315-212-3440 or at the door.

ONNY Offers Classy, Brassy Holiday Concert

The Orchestra of Northern New York celebrates the holidays with a one-of-a-kind concert in Potsdam and Watertown when a twenty-three-piece ensemble of trumpets, trombones, horns, tuba and percussion performs Holiday in Brass on Saturday, December 16 at 7:30 pm in Hosmer Hall and Sunday, December 17 in First Presbyterian Church, Watertown.

Dr. James Madeja, Professor Emeritus at the Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam, guest conducts. The program he designed begins with Sadler’s Christmas Fanfare for Brass and Percussion, includes several familiar pieces, such as “Do You Hear What I Hear?” and “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” and contains works about Advent, Hannukah, and Kwanzaa, among others.

Dr. Madeja’s thirty-six-year tenure at the Crane School included teaching instrumental music education and studio trumpet, and conducting the Crane Concert Band and Crane Brass Ensemble. Prior to joining the faculty of The Crane School of Music in 1985, he developed two successful high school wind band programs in Illinois and directed the Judson College Wind Ensemble.  His ensembles have performed for both Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. 

From 1990 to 2002, Dr. Madeja was Associate Editor of The Journal of the International Trumpet Guild, and from 2002 to 2022, he was Associate Editor of the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) Manual. 

He is a charter member of the Orchestra of Northern New York and Northern Symphonic Winds and was a member of the Potsdam Brass Quintet from 1985 to 2020.

He is a recipient of the SUNY Potsdam President’s Award for Excellence in Academic Advising, the MENC Excellence in Teaching Award, and the 2019 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Tickets for the holiday concert can be purchased online at or by calling 315-212-3440. They are $27 adults, $24 seniors, $10 college students, and $5 teens (13-17). Admission for children, 12 and younger, is always free.

The Orchestra of Northern New York is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, funded in part by the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency supported by Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.

ONNY Finalist to Conduct Fall Concert

Michael J. Colburn
Music Director Finalist Michael J. Colburn

Following a national search for a new Music Director, one of the two finalists for the position will conduct the Orchestra of Northern New York’s fall concert, Inspired. Two performances are planned for Saturday, October 28 at 7:30 pm in Hosmer Hall, SUNY Potsdam, and Sunday, October 29 at 3 pm in First Presbyterian Church, Watertown.

Michael Colburn, from North Hero, VT, designed and named the fall concert, Inspired. What inspires a composer to write a manuscript? Colburn says “All sort of things as our Inspired program will demonstrate. The concert will feature music by composers who found inspiration in nature, exotic cultures, family, friends, and even secret codes!” He notes, “while the sources of inspiration are varied, the results are identical – unforgettable works that have stood the test of time.”

Colburn is the former Director of “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band (eighteen years). As leader of its Chamber Orchestra, he primarily conducted performances at the White House, but also at public venues, including performances for Kennedy Center Honors receptions and two Kennedy Center concerts commemorating September 11. He also conducted the Marine Band for President Obama’s two inaugurations and President George W. Bush’s second inauguration. He was the Director of Bands at Butler University and is now the director and Conductor of the Me2 Orchestra in Burlington, VT.

He has a master’s in music from George Mason University, with a concentration in Conducting. His undergraduate career began with two years at the Crane School of Music and finished at Arizona State University

Colburn chose Felix Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture, also known as Fingal’s Cave, to open the program. Mendelssohn was inspired by his 1829 trip to Fingal's Cave on the island of Staffa, off Scotland's west coast, known for its puffins and the echoes of the cave. He wrote it to capture the Atlantic swell, the sound of the waves crashing into rocks and lapping against each other.

American composer George Walker’s Lyric for Strings was dedicated to his grandmother, Melvina King, a formerly enslaved woman, who died when he was a student at Curtis Institute of Music in 1946.

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio Espagnol is based on Spanish folk melodies and was first performed in 1887.

Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations is featured in the second half of the concert.  In fall 1898, Elgar played a melody one evening that caught his wife’s attention. He improvised variation on it in styles which reflected the character of some of his friends.

For tickets, visit, email, or call 315-212-3440.

ONNY is sponsored by the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the NYS Legislature.

World-Renowned Composer Visits ONNY for World Premiere of Escapades

John Anthony Lennon

When the Orchestra of Northern New York performs the world premiere of Escapades for Orchestra and Soprano Saxophone, it will have a special guest in the audience. World-renowned composer John Anthony Lennon will visit Clayton and Potsdam from the West Coast for this special concert.

Lennon has been commissioned by the John F. Kennedy Theatre Chamber Players, the Library of Congress, the Boston Symphony Chamber Players, the National Endowment for the Arts Orchestral Consortium, the Fromm Foundation, the Kronos Quartet, and many other groups and institutions.

He has also been the recipient of numerous honors and prizes. In addition to the Rome Prize, he has received the Guggenheim, Friedheim, and Charles Ives Awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Lennon has held fellowships at Tanglewood, the Rockefeller Center at Bellagio, Villa Montalvo, Yaddo, the Bolgiasco Foundation, and the MacDowell Colony as a Norlin Foundation Fellow. Other residencies have been at the Valparaiso Foundation in Spain, the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland, and the Camargo Foundation in France.

Reared in Mill Valley, California, Lennon earned a Bachelor's degree in Literature under Jesuit study at the University of San Francisco. He holds a Master's degree and a Doctorate from the University of Michigan where he studied with Leslie Bassett, William Bolcom, and William Albright.

A professor of composition and theory at Emory University, he resides in San Rafael, California. His website is

The concert, conducted by Dr. Brian Doyle, also features works by Maurice Ravel, Carlos Simon, and Aaron Copland. Christopher Creviston, former faculty member of the Crane School of Music, will solo on soprano saxophone in the work by Lennon.

Tickets for the Saturday, September 2 concert at 7:30 pm at the Clayton Opera House may be purchased by calling 315-686-2200. Tickets for the Potsdam performance on Sunday, September 3 at 3 pm in Hosmer Hall, SUNY Potsdam can be obtained at or by calling 315-212-3440.

ONNY is sponsored, in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature as well as the Northern New York Community Foundation.