OVOC History

The Okanogan Valley Orchestra and Chorus is a non profit organization granted Section 501(c)(3) status on September 6, 1984. The original Articles of Incorporation state that the purpose of the organization, in part, "is to promote means and opportunities for the education of the public with respect to the study and cultural use of instrumental and vocal music and the enjoyment and wholesome utilization thereof,...to perform public concerts, to assist public schools and municipalities within the Okanogan county area in promoting and developing music education and appreciation and to assist musical organizations within the community in the performance of musical works." As stated further in the Bylaws of the organization, the purpose "shall be threefold: to present fine music for the people of Okanogan County, to provide opportunities for County musicians to perform, and to promote music education and appreciation."

In fact, the orchestra actually began in 1978 as a community outreach program connected to Wenatchee Valley College-North and concerts were held in the Okanogan High School gymnasium. In 1981 the group began producing Gilbert and Sullivan musicals as well as approximately four concerts each year, moving their venue to the Omak Cinema. The orchestra and college connection ceased when the college music teacher moved away in 1982. In 1984 the Chorus was formed and the two groups were combined under a Board of Directors, adopting the current name of the Okanogan Valley Orchestra and Chorus (OVOC). When the Omak Performing Arts Center opened in 1990, OVOC moved its season of performances to that venue.

In keeping with it's goal of music education, a youth strings group was established in 1985 as a way to provide instruction in an area lacking in the schools. It has been a successful program over the years and a number of the students moved on to play with the full orchestra. In the late 90's, the Children's Corner was added to the concert program providing youngsters with an opportunity to learn about the music to be played that day. Free concert admission to all children under the age of 12 was adopted in the hope of bringing more students to an appreciation of classical music. With the added capabilities of the Performing Arts Center, the group changed from the Gilbert and Sullivan format to large Broadway show musicals every spring. Over the years, these shows have involved hundreds of musicians, singers, dancers, children, senior citizens, and even a dog or two!

In 1998 the organization lost its long time conductor who took a job near Seattle. A search for a new conductor resulted in the hiring of Kevin Hekmatpanah, a music professor at Gonzaga University in Spokane. Hekmatpanah is a renowned cellist as well as a conductor and teacher and has appeared as a performer and conductor all over the world. Under his leadership, the organization was awarded a prized grant in 2000 to present an original composition entitled "Landscape Changing", written especially for Okanogan County by New York composer Andy Teirstein. The grant was a part of a nationwide project called "Continental Harmony, a Musical Celebration of the New Millenium", sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the American Composers Forum and was the only grant awarded in the state of Washington. Matt Brown of Chelan currently leads the Orchestra and Johnathan McBride of Pateros the Chorus.

Currently the orchestra consists of approximately 30-35 players and the chorus is composed of about 30-45 singers. These musicians are volunteers, traveling great distances in many instances to rehearse and play for the concerts. The Board of Directors is made up of 15 members, who also volunteering their time to serve. The Okanogan Valley Orchestra and Chorus has grown greatly from its meager beginnings and has become, in the words of Omak Chronicle arts reviewer, Elizabeth Widel, "a rich resource" for Okanogan County residents.

Past Musicals​

OVOC produced a series of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas during the 1980's including:

1981 HMS Pinafore

1982 Pirates of Penzance

1983 Mikado

1984 Gondoliers

1985 Iolanthe

1986 The Sorcerer

1987 Pirates of Penzance

1988 Ruddigore

1989 Patience

In 1990 the new Performing Arts Center opened at the Omak HS/MS and OVOC took advantage of the new facility by changing the production emphasis to Broadway style musicals. Here are the Broadway shows in order:

The Music Man 1990

My Fair Lady 1991

South Pacific 1992

Guys & Dolls 1993

Hello, Dolly 1994

Brigadoon 1995

Camelot 1996

Fiddler on the Roof 1997

HMS Pinafore 1998

Man of La Mancha 1999

Crazy for You 2000

Wizard of Oz 2001

1776 2002

Oklahoma! 2003

Annie 2004

Seussical 2005

Bye Bye Birdie 2006

Sound of Music 2007

Beauty and the Beast 2008

Annie Get Your Gun 2010

7 Brides for 7 Brothers 2011

South Pacific 2012

Spamalot 2013

Wizard of Oz 2014

Into the Woods 2015

The Addams Family 2016

Little Mermaid 2017

Drowsy Chaperone 2018

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