The letter:
In 1981, the 4th year of the COTA festival, Pat Dorian responded to Phil Woods' letter about establishing a jazz band made up of young musicians. Of twenty-six high school band directors queried, he was the only one to do so; and the COTA Cats were born. A big band comprised of local high school students, the Cats came together through the continued efforts of Dorian and Woods and became a major feature of each festival.

Nearly 1,000 have by now gone through the COTA experience – learning to swing in COTA Cats or to improvise at CampJazz, which are life-skills never forgotten and ever useful in the real world. Hundreds of COTAlums are musicians and teachers regenerating this sharing process – giving it back.

The 2016 COTA festival proudly presented the 35th edition of the COTA Cats directed by accomplished area music educators (and some COTAlums) Lance Rauh, Tom Fadden, and Katye Clogg. Each COTA Cat receives thirty-plus hours of free instruction and interaction with professional musicians and composers. A majority of the music performed by the band is commissioned by the Celebration of the Arts, and features compositions by well-known composers/arrangers, COTA Cat alumni, and current COTA Cats.



First Edition of the COTACats with "ringers" Rick Chamberlain and Jim Daniels in foreground 1981 
Photo: Walter Bredel

Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania 18327


May 13, 1981

Dear _____________________,

This year will be the Fourth Annual Celebration Of The Arts and we would like to enlist your help in forming a Jazz band of the outstanding young musicians in the area. The band would meet for rehearsal after Labor Day weekend and perform at the Festival the following Saturday and Sunday, September 12 and 13.

I, along with other professionals in the area, will rehearse the band. We also hope to commision new works for this young ensemble and debut them at the Festival. We urgently need your help in this matter. Could you please post the enclosed sign in a conspicuous place and pass the word to interested young musicians?

Thank you.


Phil Woods




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