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Tchaikovsky’s Passion
Philharmonic | Masterworks

Jennifer Jolley: Blue Glacier Decoy
Shostakovich: Cello Concerto No. 1
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6, “Pathétique”


About the Program

When isn’t Tchaikovsky a healing balm for the soul?! After nearly two years of our world being turned upside by COVID, this beloved composer promises to rekindle your spirits with the emotions of his haunting Sixth Symphony. Popular guest artist and principal cello of the Cleveland Orchestra, Mark Kosower returns for Shostakovich’s masterpiece. A bravura showcase for the soloist, it encompasses a sardonic march, gorgeous lyrical melodies, a demanding, meditative cadenza, and a high-voltage finale. Jennifer Jolley’s Blue Glacier Decoy, inspired by a dance piece that evokes Pacific Northwest landscapes, includes the soothing recorded voice of dancer and choreographer Trisha Brown, urging us to find renewed balance in our lives.

Artistic Director and Conductor
Neal Gittleman
Neal's Notes

Lessons Learned

Maybe it’s because I’m the child of two teachers, but for me, the start of a new season of performances feels a lot like the start of a new school year. I even refer to the first DPO rehearsal of each season as “my first day of school”. It just feels like that…the excitement of getting back to the routine, getting everything ready, figuring out what to wear, even anxiety dreams about what could go wrong! 

As the title of this “Neal’s Notes” says, even though we’re just at the beginning of the 2021-2022 DPAA season, there are already important lessons that I’ve learned…

Lesson 1: You Make the Difference

Coming back from COVID is going to be a process…it might even be a couple of years until everything and everyone is back to full strength. But even so, I was so excited to see you out there in the auditorium at the Philharmonic’s opening Masterworks, Pops, and Family concerts in October. I even found myself peeking out from backstage to see how many of you were out there. So far, attendance has been about half what it was pre-COVID, but that’s about twice what it was last Spring for our hybrid performances. Walking out on stage I remember thinking, “Wow!  That’s a LOT of people!”  It was incredibly exciting—for all of us onstage. Judging from your response, it was exciting for you, too. Perfect!  That’s what the experience should be…exciting. And all those other E-words, too:  enlightening, enthralling, entertaining, educational, et cetera!

Lesson 2:  Safety Matters

Sure, the current safety protocols—masks, ID, proof of vaccination or a recent negative test—are a bit of a drag. (The on-stage rules are even stricter—masks, proof of vaccination, PLUS regular testing— because woodwind and brass players need to be unmasked to play their instruments.)   On opening night I didn’t go through the stage door as I usually do. I came in through the public entrance at 2nd and Ludlow. Partly so I could roll my heavy “brief box” of scores up the ramp instead of clomping up the stairs by the stage door, but mostly so I could go through the same routine you do as you to see how it worked. And it worked. I showed the ID+vax record photo I’d saved on my phone. The Dayton Live screener was so focused on the photo that they didn’t even recognize me or my name before they let me in. (I heard their partner say, “You know that was the conductor, don’t you?” as I rolled my way into the lobby.)  I admit it’s a bit of a hassle, but way less hassle than getting a dangerous illness. I know that I feel confident and optimistic knowing that safety regs are in place, keeping all of us as safe as possible. And the rules will be easy to relax when appropriate. Thanks so much for putting up with it.

Lesson 3:  Live IS Better

We in the performing arts are always saying “Live is better.”  And just a few weeks into the season, I know live’s better. It was great to be able to create streaming content for you during the shutdown phase of the pandemic. But everything’s better when we’re performing live. The energy’s better (because you’re there). Our focus is better (because we’re all zeroed in on the moment). And I, for one, am happy to be able to devote my full attention to the musicians (zero temptation to think about the cameras!)  I do wish we could continue to film our concerts to make them available to folks who can’t make it to the theater, and maybe we’ll be able to figure out how to fund that in the future. But for now, I’m so happy that things are back to “normal”.

Lesson 4:  Joining You

As I write this, the start of Dayton Opera’s season is two days away. The start of Dayton Ballet’s season is eight days away. I’m excited to join you in the audience to watch my colleagues in action and to experience the thrill of live music and dance again after so long without it. Joni Mitchell said it best: “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone?”  As a performer (if you can call a conductor that) I really missed live performances over the past 18+ months. I’m so happy to be back on-stage rehearsing and performing with the wonderful musicians of the DPO. And now I’ll be so happy to be off-stage being entertained, excited, and enthralled alongside all of you.

Lesson 5: Eyes Ahead!

There’s lots of great stuff on tap in November at the DPAA.  Old friends at the Phil:  Cleveland Orchestra Principal Cellist Mark Kosower returning for a fourth time as a guest soloist and Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique Symphony is back too.  New friends at the Phil, too:  the amazing musicians of the Dayton Funk All-Stars joining the DPO to celebrate Dayton’s Funk Music legacy and composer Jennifer Jolley’s hauntingly beautiful Blue Glacier Decoy to open the November Masterworks Series concert.  The Dayton Philharmonic Chamber Choir will start prepping for Messiah.  And best of all is a date circled on my calendar:  Saturday, November 27.  That’s the Saturday after Thanksgiving, the day when I start going into the Ballet Studio to observe Nutcracker rehearsals!

~ Neal Gittleman, Artistic Director and Conductor