Director, conductor Neal Gittleman returns


DAYTON — Dayton Performing Arts Alliance continues its 2022-2023 Masterworks Series with a concert featuring three composers’ musical reactions to war and their hopes for peace in “Perspectives: War and Peace.” Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra’s Artistic Director and Conductor, Neal Gittleman, returns to the podium after a brief medical leave for an evening including Lili Boulanger’s “For a Soldiers Funeral,” featuring Kenneth Shaw (baritone) and the Dayton Philharmonic Chorus; the premiere of DPAA’s commission of Michael Schelle’s “Resilience,” showcasing DPO’s violist Sheridan Currie and cellist Johnathan Lee; and Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “Pastoral” Symphony No. 3 with soprano and Dayton Opera Artist-in-Resident, Kayla Oderah. Friday, March 10, and Saturday, March 11, at 7:30 p.m. at the Benjamin and Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center.

Back from a brief leave from his duties as Artistic Director and Conductor, Gittleman has been eager to program “Perspectives” for the Dayton audience.

“The tale of this program begins about a dozen years ago when I heard a performance of the Vaughan Williams Pastoral Symphony which is a response to the devastations of World War I—at a summer festival,” said Gittleman. “I didn’t know the piece and was blown away by its beauty and the emotional wallop it packed—despite being mostly quiet, well, pastoral piece.”

“Then when Mike Schelle wrote Resilience for us,” Gittleman continues, “we had a perfect companion piece—connected to World War II and more energetic in character. I’d known about Lili Boulanger’s For a Soldier’s Funeral since my student days in Paris, and it made the perfect opener for a concert that’s not, strictly speaking, about war, but instead, about people thinking about war.”

Jointly commissioned by Dayton Philharmonic and the Fort Smith (AR) Symphony, Schelle based the composition on the powerful emotions of suffering and human resilience he experienced while visiting significant sites from World War II’s European and Japanese theaters. Resilience was premiered in 2015 by the Fort Smith (AR) Symphony. Dayton Philharmonic’s premiere had several delays, most recently because of COVID.

“The background (and buildup) to the story of this piece stretches over many years,” said “Resilience” composer, Schelle. “I’m an avid ‘student’ of all things WWII. “Resilience” is a unique characteristic of ‘The Greatest Generation’ in general and honors the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII. My dad was a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, Pacific Theatre from 1941-1945. Also, my mom was a WWII nurse in Philadelphia.”

“The Dayton Philharmonic and the Fort Smith (AR) Symphony partnered to commission a piece from me a few years after my dad’s passing at age 89, which led me to compose Resilience.” continued Schelle. “It quickly became my most deeply personal creation. The piece is inspired by WWII, but in the eight years since the premiere — and subsequent performances across the U.S. — “Resilience” has grown to embrace for me a much larger dramatic landscape of suffering and resilience, including some situations that have affected me personally, including the Ukraine invasion and the catastrophic Japanese tsunami of 2011, my wife is Japanese pianist, composer Miho Sasaki.”

Gittleman and Schelle will host a “Take Note Talk,” live in the Mead Theater of the Schuster Center from 6:30 – 7 p.m. before each evening’s concert. Take Note Talks provide an in-depth perspective of the evening’s programming. After the concert, Sheridan Currie and Jonathan Lee will join Gittleman and Schelle for a “Talk Back” to answer questions from the audience once most of the crowd leaves the theater.

For additional information on the concert and to hear why Gittleman chose this repertoire and read the digital program, visit Perspectives: War and Peace.

DPAA’s Masterworks Series concludes its 2022-2023 concert season with Beethoven’s Second Symphony (May 19-20, 2023). All performances are held at the Schuster Center and begin at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets start at $5 and are on sale now by phone at 937-228-3630, online at Perspectives: War and Peace tickets in person at the Box Office in the Wintergarden of the Schuster Center downtown Dayton.

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