BY CHELSEA DRUSCH
With the dual goal of recognizing exceptional music skills and supporting local school music education, the Oshkosh Music Artist Series (OMAS) was born. A labor of musical love, Oshkosh Scene editor Justin Mitchell and Heid Music’s Kristin Masarik developed the concept of the series: Biannual concerts featuring varying genres of music that generate revenue for different Oshkosh area music programs. One hundred percent of the proceeds from each concert supports students and teachers. OMAS works directly with instructors in the specified area to determine best application of funds; typically supported areas include: lesson scholarships, instrument repairs, new instrument and supply purchases, and general music program needs.
Using the historic Algoma Club for the concert venue, the first concert took place in the fall of 2012, featuring classical musicians while raising funds for the Oshkosh Youth Strings Program. This inaugural event raised over $1,200. While the bar was set pretty high, the second concert in April 2013 saw the revenue increase to $1,400, this time benefitting middle school band directors in the Oshkosh Area School District. Most recently, the fall 2013 concert featured KWT4, the UW Oshkosh Jazz Ensemble and the Jazz Orgy, with pre-show music by Kurt Stein’s School of Music. These exceptional jazz talents raised $1,585 for Oshkosh North and West High School Jazz programs and the UW Oshkosh Jazz Ensemble.
These events have met success as a direct result of the combination of exceptional music talents and excellent community support. OMAS concerts run smoothly due to contributions from area businesses, including Heid Music, The Oshkosh Scene, The Algoma Club, Kurt Stein’s School of Music, Cranky Pat’s and Becket’s Restaurant. Of course, the revenue generated only exists because of the love of music held by the Oshkosh community and the excitement created around attending these events.
David Hamilton, band director at Webster Stanley Middle School and spring 2013 OMAS funds recipient, explains, “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 to benefit music in the schools is humbling to me as an educator.”
Adding to the excitement, this April will be Dorothy Zerbe, The Guilty Wanted and Copper Box, with Kurt Stein’s School of Music providing pre-show music. This folk and rock concert, to be held Saturday, April 19 at 7 p.m., will raise funds to support local elementary music education. Final act Copper Box will bring their unique, high-energy blend of Tex Mex influence, New Orleans flavor, and old Wisconsin polka to the stage. With over a decade of music, the band has grown to be one of the region’s favorite musical acts, described by one fan as “a guaranteed good time party every show.”
Danny Jerabek, Copper Box’s button box accordion specialist, notes, “Having both of our daughters heavily involved with music classes in Oshkosh schools, we obviously think music in schools is very important to their overall development. When Copper Box was asked to be a part of this concert, we were thrilled and said ‘yes’ right away.”
Do-not-miss future concerts will showcase: All-Things-Choir in November; Soul, Funk and Blues in April 2015; and a Big Band Jazz Night for the November 2015 concert. Tickets for all shows are $10 and available at Heid Music Oshkosh and Manila Resto on Algoma Blvd. in Oshkosh. If not sold out, tickets will also be available at the door for $12. ν
Chelsea Drusch serves as Marketing Coordinator for Heid Music. A summa cum laude graduate of the English program at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, she applies her writing and design skills to various publications for Heid ranging from newsletters to press releases to social media content. When she’s not exercising her marketing savvy at work, she’s likely collaborating with her fellow Marketer husband, Greg, or toting their tiny tot along to various soccer activities, either playing herself or coaching through Appleton Soccer Club. To get in touch or find out more, connect with her on LinkedIn.