Watertown Advisory Committee Plays Valuable Role

In 2015, the late Michael C. Miller, Watertown, gathered together a group of interested individuals from Watertown to ensure that ONNY concerts would become a part of the fabric of life in that region. Today, Mike’s dream is a reality. 

Last season, 1,600 people purchased tickets to four ONNY concerts in Watertown. Literally thousands of people enjoyed ONNY’s summer pops concert and fireworks at the free Concert in the Park held around July 4th.  The event is sponsored by the City of Watertown and the Watertown Noon Rotary Club.

The twelve-member Watertown Advisory Committee (WAC) meets quarterly.  These dedicated volunteers:

  • Serve as ambassadors for The Orchestra of Northern New York
  • Open doors and build bridges with community groups, businesses and foundations in the area
  • Help solicit sponsorships, program advertising, donations and grants to defray the cost of the annual five-concert Watertown series
  • Provide valuable feedback to the ONNY board and management on everything from programming and operations to marketing and outreach activities.

John Goloski, WAC chair, is a voting member of ONNY’s Board of Directors. Membership is open to anyone in the greater Watertown region who is interested in assisting ONNY in a host of ways. Committee members provide refreshments and even dinner on occasion for musicians before concerts and during intermissions. They also serve as ushers, sell CDs, distribute posters, respond to management’s requests for feedback, and share social media posts.

In 2020, the group is examining their role and relationship with the ONNY Board. They are developing an operations manual for the Committee Chair’s office to minimize the learning curve for future WAC leaders. 

Persons interested in WAC’s mission are asked to contact Goloski at or 315-592-8740.

(Photo: Members of the Watertown Advisory Committee display ONNY reusable tote bags at their last quarterly meeting. They are, left to right, front row:  Emily Sprague, Watertown, retired English teacher from Watertown City Schools; Agnes McCarthy, Philadelphia, director/co-founder of Trillium Music Center and an ONNY violinst; Shannon Zaykoski, Adams, music teacher in the South Jefferson Central School District and an ONNY hornist; Wink Beadel, Wellesley Island, retired Communications Associate at Clayton’s Antique Boat Museum; and Aileen Anderson, Watertown, Grants Management Specialist for the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. Back row:  Richard Lake, Watertown, retired Vice President of Harleysville Insurance Co.; Anita Prather Harvell, Watertown, IT Specialist for Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation on Fort Drum; Clement Wong, Watertown, Financial Officer of the United Way of NNY; Lia Call, Theresa, 7th and 8th grade orchestra teacher at Indian River Middle School and ONNY violist; John Goloski, Theresa, Watertown Advisory Committee chair, 7th and 8th grade band teacher at Indian River Middle School; and John Wrape, Watertown, retired Assistant Superintendent for Instruction in the Watertown City School District. Missing: T. Urling “Tom” Walker, Watertown, retired businessman and former Mayor of the City of Watertown.)

A Black Bottom Line Thanks to Individual & Business Donors, Foundations, and NYSCA

The generous support of 292 individuals, businesses, organizations, foundations, and state agencies totaled $124,541 or 52% of 2019 total income, making it possible for ONNY to finish the year in the black.  These donors enabled the Orchestra to bring high quality orchestra music to the North Country. 

Their generosity allowed ticket prices to remain affordable, with discounted tickets for seniors, military personnel, college students and teens. Children, age 12 and under, are always admitted free to ONNY concerts.    

The Sweetgrass Foundation kindly funded a much-needed project, the re-organization and renovation of one of ONNY’s greatest assets, its music library.   

The Secret Sits Pro Musica Ensembles, Inc. (TSS, Inc.) sponsored the ONNY/Crane Student Apprenticeship Program last year. Thirty-four exceptional Crane students played in one or more concerts, gaining valuable experience performing alongside ONNY’s seasoned musicians. 

The Northern New York Community Foundation continues to demonstrate its support for ONNY in many ways. Once again last year, it awarded $15,000 to The Orchestra to help defray the cost of producing the Watertown concert series. In June, it bestowed a $10,000 matching grant to grow ONNY’s endowment.  Since last June, $3,945 in private donations to the endowment have been matched by NNYCF. Finally, in August, NNYCF authorized a $15,000 grant from the Sidney T. Cox Memorial Fund, held by NNYCF, to fund the season opening concert in Clayton. 

To contribute to the endowment matching campaign, contact Executive Director Kathy Del Guidice at or 315-267-3251.

The New York State Council on the Arts approved a three-year $57,000 grant, payable at $19,000 per year, for musicians fees. ONNY strives to hire the best musicians in the region to perform for its audiences.

Finally, ONNY learned in December that its application for a Workforce Development grant to transition its part-time executive director position to a full-time one was approved. The $37,500 two-year grant was issued by the New York State Council on the Arts and Regional Economic Development Council (NYSCA/REDC).

On behalf of the entire Board, thank you to all our supporters. We simply couldn’t do it without you!

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A Message from ONNY Board President, Kimberly Busch

Dear Friends,

As I begin a two-year term as President of the ONNY Board of Directors, I wish to thank our sponsors, donors, advertisers, audience members, musicians, volunteers and staff for their past support. As we navigate a world-wide pandemic, the ONNY Board is committed, first and foremost, to protecting the health and safety of our musicians and audience members, then determining how best to proceed with live music-making onstage.

Our Music Director Kenneth Andrews, Executive Director Kathy Del Guidice, and Personnel Manager Jill Rubio are working diligently, researching the latest recommendations from the CDC and best practices from the League of American Orchestras and other professionals in the field. Although ONNY cannot present live concerts at this time, we will fulfill ONNY’s mission of “enriching the quality of life in Northern New York” and inspiring “the enjoyment and appreciation of music” in new and creative ways. Online programs are being developed that we expect to launch in late summer/early fall. These offerings will include interviews with our musicians, solo or chamber performances by ONNY musicians, play-along musical improvisation activities, and more. 

I would like to sincerely thank Tim Savage for his excellent leadership as President of ONNY’s Board of Directors for the last nine years. His knowledge, passion and calm demeanor have been one of the secrets of the Orchestra's success. I am grateful that he will remain on the Board this year to help ensure a smooth transition. The other 2020-2021 ONNY officers are: Vice President Vicki Day (Hermon), Treasurer Mary Jane Watson (South Colton), and Secretary Adrienne Hartman (Potsdam).

ONNY board members are dedicated and engaged volunteers. I am excited and humbled to work with this amazing team as we explore new ways to bring orchestral music to North Country communities and lead our dedicated volunteers and talented musicians to a “new normal.” These are challenging times, but I believe the Orchestra will endure - with your support. Please give generously when we undertake our annual appeal in the coming months.


Kimberly Busch
ONNY Board President


Photo Credit: Justin Sorensen, Watertown Daily Times (ONNY Pops Concert)

Orchestra Librarian Added to Staff

Music Director Kenneth Andrews has worn many hats for over 30 years to keep the orchestra viable. One of the more time-consuming and detail-oriented jobs has been preparing and distributing all the music for over 400 concerts to musicians, which can number as many as 70+ players per event.

Last year, the board hired Keith Ziemba as Orchestra Librarian to relieve the music director of many of the required tasks.

Mr. Ziemba is from West Orange, NJ. He received a BM in Music Education from Ithaca College and a MM in Trumpet Performance from Witchita State University. He is retired from Edwards-Knox Central School, where he taught instrumental music for many years. He has lived in Russell for almost 40 years with his wife, Nancy, a long-time member of the ONNY horn section. He is an active trumpet performer, composer and arranger.

Adept at scanning music and sending it to musicians in an organized, professional manner, Keith has already saved the orchestra a great deal of money in postage by using this technology. ONNY, and especially our Music Director, are grateful to Keith who is doing a great job.

Social Media Reach Increases 459%

Rebecca Weissman joined ONNY’s board last April. Her willingness to manage social media, including Facebook and Instagram, was welcome news. She quickly demonstrated her expertise in the field of marketing, which has had a huge impact on audience engagement. 

ONNY’s monthly Facebook reach - the number of people who had content from or about a page reach their screen - has grown 459% with her efforts, from 1,033 viewers to 5,782. Women followers of the orchestra outnumber men 2:1.  People, ages 25-44, account for 54% of Facebook followers while those ages 45-65 total 22%.

Instagram engages audiences primarily through photo content, engaging members of the ONNY family with community organizations through tagging, recognizing donors and sponsors, connecting with peer and other organizations through “liking” and reposting. 

These followers represent a younger demographic with 69% between the ages of 18-34. Again, women are twice as likely to be engaged by this social media platform as men are. Growth in Instagram enthusiasts grew 181%.

ONNY is grateful to Ms. Weissman for her ongoing work to engage and grow its audiences.  If you have not already done so, please look for us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Join our growing group of social media supporters.

The Orchestra also wishes to publicly acknowledge and thank volunteer Kevin Angstadt, who has served as ONNY’s website consultant since 2013. He does it all – handling site design, maintenance, and content updates.  Kevin is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Michigan.  He received a Bachelor's degree from St. Lawrence University and a Master's degree from the University of Virginia.  He eagerly awaits a move back to the North Country.

Follow ONNY on:

Facebook: The Orchestra of Northern New York
Twitter: @OrchNorthernNY
Instagram: @OrchNorthernNY

Register for the Third Annual ONNY Golf Classic Today

Calling all North Country golfers!  The Orchestra of Northern New York invites you to register today for its third annual Golf Classic to be held Saturday, August 29th from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Potsdam Town and Country Club.  

Proceeds of this charity event enable children, 12 and under, to attend ONNY concerts for free and teens, 13 to 17, for just $5. 

The entry fees are $75 for each adult and $50 for Junior Division (high school) golfers. The fee for this four-person mixed scramble event includes: 18 holes of golf and cart, contests, heavy hors d’oeuvres, entertainment by Microburst, and prizes for the winning teams. Cash bar, putting contest, skins, mulligans, a silent auction and raffles will all be available and are extra. 

Register today online at; in-person at Brick & Mortar Music, 15 Market Street in Potsdam, or call 315-212-3440.

Click here to read an invitation letter from Chip Lamson, tournament chair.

Photo Credit: Chris Urbanowicz

An Important Message from the ONNY Board President

Dear North Country Neighbor:

The ever-changing coronavirus threat has completely upended our lives—at work, at home and at play. Everyone is experiencing uncertainty about what tomorrow will bring—and we are being called upon to adapt our habits of living in significant ways. In the challenging days ahead, I encourage you to turn to a remedy that has worked for mankind for millennia—music. 

It is most unfortunate the second half of The Orchestra of Northern New York’s 32nd season had to be cancelled.  It was, however, absolutely the right thing to do for the safety and health of our audience members, musicians and many volunteers who are involved in ONNY concerts.  All of the people in the ONNY family have been loyal to us over 32 years. Now, it is appropriate and necessary for ONNY to put their well-being first.

If you had tickets to one or more of the March, April or July cancelled concerts, you may:  a) request a refund, b) receive a credit for future ONNY concert(s), or c) donate the value of your tickets to ONNY. Please contact Executive Director Kathy Del Guidice at or 315-212-3440 to tell her your choice. 

My nine-year tenure as Board President will end June 30.  In the past several months, my focus has been on succession planning for all aspects of the organization, striving to ensure a smooth transfer in the office of the presidency.  In light of the coronavirus situation, difficult decisions will have to be made to ensure that this cultural gem of the North Country remains viable for many more years to come.  During my remaining two months in office, I promise to communicate any decisions made by the board in a timely manner. 

I have every confidence that President-Elect, Kimberly Busch, a board member and President of ONNY’s Volunteer Guild for the past three years, will lead the North Country’s only year-round professional symphony orchestra to new heights, with the assistance of ONNY’s other dedicated, talented, and highly-engaged volunteer board members. 

If you have not yet attended an ONNY concert, please consider this my personal invitation to do so when it opens its 33rd season later this year. 

In the coming days, allow music to uplift your spirit for it surely will. Stay safe and be well.

Timothy L. Savage
ONNY President  

Orchestra Of Northern New York Cancels Summer Pops Concert

POTSDAM – Last evening, the Board of Directors of The Orchestra of Northern New York voted unanimously to cancel its summer pops concert. Two performances were slated to take place: Watertown’s free Concert in the Park on Thursday, July 2, followed by an evening concert in SUNY Potsdam’s Hosmer Hall on Friday, July 3.

“We are all saddened by the increasing number of COVID-19 cases and deaths caused by this disease. Every board member agreed we cannot take any chances,” said Timothy L. Savage, President, of the Board of Directors. “Although we hope the situation will improve dramatically by that time, we do not want to risk bringing large groups of people together when things may be getting better and experience a second wave.”

Music Director Kenneth Andrews said, “We look forward to performing this exciting concert next summer.” He has made modest changes to this year’s program, renaming the concert for next year, Celebrating America. Guest soloists will be Fiddling Hall of Fame member Gretchen Koehler and North Country favorite guitarist/vocalist Barb Heller. The 2021 summer pops concert will be Thursday, July 1 in Thompson Park and Friday, July 2 in Potsdam.

ONNY expects to announce its 2020-2021 season next month, the 33rd year for the North Country’s only year-round professional symphony orchestra. 

Concert-goers with summer pops concert tickets will be notified by mail early next week of their three options, according to ONNY Executive Director Kathy Del Guidice.  “They may receive a refund, a credit toward future concerts, or donate the value of the ticket(s) to ONNY. We will gladly honor and process all requests promptly.”  

For more information, contact Ms. Del Guidice by calling 315-212-3440 or by sending an email to

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Ticket-holders for the cancelled concerts have three options. They may receive a refund, a credit toward future concerts, or donate the value of the ticket(s) to ONNY. All requests will be honored and processed promptly.

If applicable, please complete this response form and mail it to ONNY, PO Box 488, Potsdam, NY 13676. Or, contact Ms. Del Guidice by email at or call 315-267-3251 Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Please take precautionary measures and stay well. We thank you for your past support and look forward to seeing you at a future ONNY concert. 


Photo credit: Vince Alongi

High School Cellist Wins Orchestra Competition

POTSDAM - A senior at Shenendehowa High School in Clifton Park, NY, won the 2020 James and Katherine Andrews Young Artist Competition for Junior High and High School Students held recently at the Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam. For the fourteenth consecutive year, the event has been hosted by the Orchestra of Northern New York, the North Country’s only year-round professional symphony orchestra. 

Cellist Joyce Cheng, 17, bested six other students from around Northern New York, Central New York and the Capital Region. She performed the 4th Movement of the Elgar Cello Concerto in E Minor.  She will receive the $500 first prize and solo with ONNY when it presents its Star Wars concert at 3:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Saturday, April 18 at Jefferson Community College's Sturtz Theater in Watertown, and at 3:00 p.m., Sunday, April 19 at SUNY Potsdam's Hosmer Hall.

Ms. Cheng began playing cello at age 9.  She joined the Empire State Youth Orchestra in 2015 and has been its principal cellist since 2018.  She is the daughter of Chiu-Ling Wu and Wen-Hua Cheng, Clifton Park.

Alex Wu, 15, a freshman at Fayetteville-Manlius High School, placed second for his rendition of the First Movement Beethoven’s Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37. 

Mark Severtson, 17, a sophomore from senior at Parishville-Hopkinton Central School, won third place for his performance of the First Movement of the Vaughan Williams’ Concerto in F Minor on tuba.

Other participants from around the North Country were: Madilyn Connor, 15, a sophomore from Poland; Victoria Huffman, 14, a ninth grader from Theresa; Gabriel Schmid-Doyle, 17, a senior from Canton; and Sylvain Foisy, 17, a senior from Potsdam.

This year’s judges were: Gary Busch, Professor of Music in Piano Performance and Music History at the Crane School of Music; Mark Hartman, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor in Trombone at Crane; Jennifer Kessler, Instructor of Music Education and Director of the National String Project at Crane; and Kenneth Andrews, Music Director and Conductor of ONNY since he founded it in 1988. He is a SUNY Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus. Students receive valuable written feedback from the judges sent to them by competition coordinator and former ONNY violinist, Nancy Peschko, Norwood.

ONNY's Young Artist Competition was established in 2007 for talented high school students. This year, the ONNY Board of Directors opened the competition to junior high students. The program’s mission is to inspire young musicians to reach their highest level of artistry.  All performances must be played from memory.  Students also receive a taped recording of their performance to help them prepare for future performances or competitions.

For more information about next year's competition slated for February 20, 2021,  contact Nancy Peschko, Competition Coordinator at 315-391-0873 or