Who We Are
Musicians are all around us, but too many don't have a place to play. As part of our inclusive community model, we welcome all community musicians -- regardless of ability, background, or experience -- to join our dynamic orchestra. Our only requirement is the desire to play. Lawyers, astronomers, medical professionals, educators, writers, business owners, students . . . we are ONA.
ONA believes that youth should have access to the arts and knows firsthand that exposure to, and participation in, live symphonic music can be transformational. YONA provides a sustainable and excellent source of music enrichment for youth while fostering a passion for community arts.
Orchestra Northern Arizona is a non-profit, intergenerational community orchestra that brings together players of diverse backgrounds and levels of experience to share the joy of playing and performing classical music.
Our Mission, Our Beliefs
It is our mission to entertain our community with free, informal concerts for the whole family, inspiring musicians and
audiences alike via the classical music experience.
We believe that music is an invaluable part of community life and strives to make orchestral music available to everyone, regardless of age or income, through free concerts in a family-friendly, informal venue.
Our unique, quality programming entertains, educates and involves our audiences, with a particular emphasis on young families with children. We believe children should have access to the arts and know firsthand that exposure to live symphonic music can be life changing.
We are committed to educational partnerships that bring musicians and students together; to collaborative efforts that support other arts organizations within our community; and to giving all musicians, amateur and professional alike, the opportunity to learn and perform orchestral music.
ONA operates under the direction of the Artistic Director and the Board of Directors. The Board of Directors is responsible for ONA's budget, marketing, fund-raising activities and educational outreach. The Artistic Director serves as conductor and is responsible for concert programming. The Artistic Director works closely with the Board as an ex-officio, non-voting member.
See the our current 2022-2023 Strategic Plan.
Over twenty years ago, Jean Mathew, an administrator at Coconino Community College (CCC), recognized the need for a regional community orchestra to serve the cultural and educational needs of musicians and audiences in northern Arizona. Mathew hired Clarence Shaw, a well-known northern Arizona musician, conductor and educator, and together they formed the Coconino Community College Orchestra.
The orchestra quickly developed the tradition of offering performances of the great classic masterpieces to the community free of charge. In addition to the two terms Clarence Shaw served as musical director, the orchestra has been led by Ralph Cuda, Sean Paul Mills and William McCamley, all with distinguished musical backgrounds. In 2008, David Cripps, former principal horn player for the London Symphony, was hired by CCC as the new artistic director.
Then, in 2009, funding considerations forced the community college to cut the orchestra. Unwilling to disband, the musicians, along with their artistic director, decided to form Orchestra Northern Arizona. ONA received its non-profit status in July of 2010.
Today, ONA strives to carry on the tradition of performing quality classical music for its community and of giving musicians -- of all ages and abilities -- a place to play.
For a more a comprehensive history of ONA, our board historian, Garnett Williams, compiled our history.
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