In recognition of the exceptional musical skills in the Oshkosh Area, and the importance of music education in our schools, Justin Mitchell and Kristin Masarik (Heid Music) began a brainstorming session in early 2012, seeking out an effective way to support, celebrate, and promote both. Jesse Koonce of the Algoma Club was quickly brought on board, providing the use of the beautiful, historic Algoma Club for the concert venue.
The organizing committee has expanded to also includes Kurt Stein from Kurt Stein’s School of Music, Kris Larson with Beckets Restaurant,and long-time Oshkosh musical performer and supporter Thatcher Peterson. Anthony Montalvo and Jessica Johnson joined the committee in 2014, and in 2015 local musical mad man Mike Malone joined the team for the 2016 concert planning. The Oshkosh Music Artist Series concerts each feature different genres of music performed by local musical artists, with each concert benefiting a targeted area of youth music education in the Oshkosh area.
The first concert was hosted in Fall of 2012, featuring classical musicians while raising funds for the Oshkosh Youth Strings Program. $1020.00 was raised in this inaugural event, directly benefiting the strings program. The excitement surrounding the celebration of the exceptional musical talents in the Oshkosh area combined with the excellent community support made this event a terrific success.
The April 2013 Oshkosh Music Artist Series concert featured the Dead Horses, Sheamus Fitzpatrick & the McNally Boys, and Stephanie Tschech, with proceeds benefitting middle school band programs.
Oshkosh packed the Algoma Club, with standing room only, as the audience sang and danced and enjoyed a remarkable evening of music. $1400.00 was raised and donated to the school district middle school band directors.
According to Webster Stanley Middle School Band Director David Hamilton, whom OMAS partnered with for this concert, “With decreasing budgets for schools and music programs all over the state, it has become increasingly harder for music programs to provide supplies and musical experiences for students. To have businesses and artists come together through the Oshkosh Music Artist Series to benefit music in the schools is humbling to me as an educator.”
The Oshkosh Music Artist Series provides a unique venue for people in a community to gather and pay attention to how music makes a difference. The performance of the middle-schoolers in Kurt Stein’s program is a perfect example of how music opportunities like this give these young people confidence not typical of that age group. It’s wonderful that the people of Oshkosh are supporting this type of endeavor! I felt honored to be a part of it.”
~ Dorothy Zerbe, Oshkosh Folk Musician and OMAS Alum
The Fall 2013 Oshkosh Music Artist Series concert featured Kurt Stein’s School of Music, the Jazz Orgy, the UW Oshkosh Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Marty Robinson, and KWT4 featuring Tom Washatka, with proceeds benefitting Oshkosh West and North High School Jazz Band Programs.
Another full house, with over 200 fans and musicians celebrating a fine night of jazz in the Algoma Club. $1385.00 was raised and donated to the high school jazz programs, and another $200.00 was donated to the UW Oshkosh Jazz Program.
Oshkosh North Band Director Jim Dorschner partnered with OMAS for this concert. Jim accepted the donation at the Spring 2014 concert, and followed up with a kind letter of thanks.
The Algoma Club was again host to OMAS, with the Spring 2014 concert featuring a return of Kurt Stein’s School of Music, as well as Dorothy Zerbe and Ernie Greenwood, The Guilty Wanted, and Copper Box. $906.00 was raised through ticket sales, benefitted Oshkosh Area Elementary School music programs. New to this show was the addition of a raffle and auction, with funds raised providing the seed money for a new music lesson scholarship fund.
In addition, the Spring 2014 show expanded collaborations with the local creative community. The Backlot Comedy House took the stage for an improv set, while local artist Leif Larson completed a new original work of art at the event, with the finished work auctioned off by evening host Joe Ferlo. $205.00 was raised through the auction to support the music lesson scholarship fund.
In what was the most ambitious concert to date, the Fall 2014 concert featured performances from the area’s finest choirs, including choirs from Oshkosh North and West High Schools and UW Oshkosh, as well as the Oshkosh Chamber Choir. Additional special guests of the night included students from Kurt Stein’s School of Music, Lisa Dorschner contributing a rare harp performance, the UW Oshkosh handbell choir, and a solo by vocal extraordinaire Sean Lynch.
Held at Becket’s City Center Atrium – the first Oshkosh Music Artist Series concert at this venue – the night was one of the largest choir performances in Oshkosh’s history, bringing together over 200 performers from the community. The conclusion of the night, which brought all of the choirs together for two songs, was moving and powerful, with the singers surrounding the audience on the floor and from the balcony.
The 2015 OMAS concert took place on in May, featuring the sounds of Blues and Ragtime. The concert returned to the Algoma Club, where performances from Peyer Piano Studio students and Kurt Stein’s School of Music opened the evening. Linda Harmon put on a rare show of ragtime skill, followed by Tin Sandwich Blues Band.
The 2015 concert raised $660.00 for the Oshkosh Youth Strings Program, and was presented to director Geri Grine at Heid Music in Oshkosh, with Marlo and Jesse from the Algoma Club and Manila Resto joining Justin Mitchell, Mrs. Gwen Vander Pas and students from the strings program.
The OMAS Finale is scheduled for November 12, 2016 and will feature an energetic evening of exceptional musicianship while raising funds for middle school band programming at the district’s 5 middle schools. Horace Silver tribute band Fifty Shades of Silver makes their debut and is joined by the UW Oshkosh Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Marty Robinson.
For each concert, a specific music education area is targeted to receive funding support. OMAS works directly with instructors in those areas to determine best usage of the funds, including lesson scholarships, instrument repairs, purchase of new instruments and supplies, and support for other needs.
Help support this program by purchasing tickets to an upcoming concert and by inviting your friends to join you.