By Rita Christopher
While Vincent Oneppo happily plays clarinet and saxophone with a number of local bands, he's most often associated with coordinating the performances of other artists through the Essex Winter Series and Chestnut Hill Concerts in Old Saybrook.
If you know the season, you know what Vincent Oneppo is up to. If it is summer, it is the season for the Chestnut Hill Concerts at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center in Old Saybrook. If it is winter, it is time for the Essex Winter Series (EWS). Vincent is administrator of EWS and managing director of the Chestnut Hill concerts.
His titles differ, but the work he does for the two organizations is similar. It can involve everything from overseeing publicity to making sure that there are enough music stands for performers. He has his favorites when it comes to concert set-up. Making sure everything is correct for an entire orchestra is a big task, but a string quartet is something different.
"Sometimes all you need is four chairs; they even bring their own music stands," Vincent says.
Though the two musical organizations focus on different types of music, Vincent notes they have much in common.
"The two series are really complementary; they have the same audiences and they serve the same geographical area. Doing them together leads to economies of scale in things like marketing and press work," he says.
EWS holds its concerts at Valley Regional High School; Chestnut Hill at the Kate.
There are, to be sure, significant differences, beyond the seasons in which they operate.
"The series have different profile," Vincent says.
Chestnut Hill concentrates on chamber music; EWS presents a more varied program. This year EWS began with a dual piano concert on Jan. 12 by EWS Artistic Director Mihae Lee and Randall Hodgkinson. The five-concert series will also include a solo guitar recital, an appearance by the New Haven Symphony with French hornist Leelanee Sterrett, a jazz program devoted to Fats Waller, and an all-Bach performance on Palm Sunday.
Involvement in music and concerts is nothing new for Vincent. He retired in 2010 as director of the Concert and Media Office at the Yale School of Music. On his retirement, the music school's Camber Music Series was named the Oneppo Chamber Music Series in his honor.
But he resists the term "retired."
"I am still in arts management, managing two concert series," he says.
Leaving Yale, nonetheless, has given him more time for the one thing that never changes in a musician's life: practicing.
"When I was at Yale, I was lucky to get in an hour a week," he says.
A clarinet and saxophone player, Vincent now performs with the Elm City Winds and the Bales-Gitlin Band, which played for a number of seasons at the Copper Beech Inn on New Year's Eve. He has also performed with Bales-Gitlin at the La Grua concert center in Stonington, where he is looking forward to a solo concert accompanied on the piano by Lee.