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Perspectives: War and Peace
Philharmonic | Masterworks Series

The Erma R. and Hampden W. Catterton Memorial Concert

Lili Boulanger (1893-1918) For a Soldier’s Funeral

Michael Schelle (b. 1950) Resilience

  1. Dachaulieder
  2. Rising Sun, Falling Sky
  3. Blast of Silence

- 20-minute Intermission -

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) Pastoral Symphony (Symphony No. 3)

  1. Molto moderato
  2. Lento moderato
  3. Moderato pesante
  4. Lento
About the Concert

“When words fail, music speaks”- William Shakespeare.

Artistic Director and Conductor Neal Gittleman returns to the podium to conduct a program showcasing three composers’ meditations on the aftermath of war. Perspectives welcomes the Dayton premiere of a long-awaited (thanks to COVID) commission of Michael Schelle’s Resilience, a double concerto featuring DPO principal viola Sheridan Currie and principal cello Jonathan Lee. Resilience commemorates the end of WWII, with its final movement a fervent prayer for peace. Lili Boulanger’s For a Soldiers Funeral laments a soldier’s burial with solo baritone Kenneth Shaw and the Dayton Philharmonic Chorus, and Ralph Vaughan William’s beautiful and compelling reflection on the aftermath of WWI in his “Pastoral” Symphony.

Masterworks Series Sponsors

Thank you to the following sponsors for their support of the 2022-2023 Masterworks Series.

For a Soldier's Funeral (Translation)

For a Soldier’s Funeral

Let the drums be covered, let the priest step forth.

Upon your knees, comrades, bare your heads and keep silence.

Let the prayer of the dead be said before us.

We wish to the tomb to take the captain.

He has died a soldier, upon Christian ground.

The soul belongs to God; the army shall have the body.

If these purple drapes and these burning clouds,

Which chase the breath of storms in the ether,

Are warriors laid out in their golden armor,

Inclinest thou, noble heart, upon these green hills,

And see your companions break their javelins

Upon this cold earth, where your body now rests!

(Translation: William White)


Pour les funérailles d’un soldat

Qu’on voile les tambours, que le prêtre s’avance.

A genoux, compagnons, tête nue et silence.

Qu’on dise devant nous la prière des morts.

Nous voulons au tombeau porter le capitaine.

Il est mort en soldat, sur la terre chrétienne.

L’âme appartient â Dieu; l’armée aura le corps.

Si ces rideaux de pourpre et ces ardents nuages,

Que chasse dans l’éther le souffle des orages,

Sont des guerriers couchés dans leurs armures d’or,

Penche-toi, noble cœur, sur ces vertes collines,

Et vois tes compagnons briser leurs javelines

Sur cette froide terre, òu ton corps est resté!

- Alfred de Musset (1810–1857)

Artistic Director & Conductor
Neal Gittleman
Take Note: Live at 6:30pm in the Schuster!

For the first time since his medical leave, Artistic Director and Conductor Neal Gittleman presents Take Note, a live pre-concert talk given from the stage in the Schuster Center, beginning at 6:30pm. Learn about this evening's program before the performance begins! This evening, Neal will be joined by composer Michael Schelle to discuss his piece, Resilience.

Take Note is generously sponsored by the Dayton Philharmonic Volunteer Association. 

Post-Show Talk Backs

Stick around after the show for a Talk Back given from the stage in the Schuster Center with Michael Schelle, Neal Gittleman, and DPO musicians Sheridan Currie and Jonathan Lee. 

Neal's Notes

Our March DPO Masterworks program, “Perspectives: War and Peace” is a special evening of music. It’s a concert with a theme—three composers sharing their perspectives on war and peace, just as the title says. But if you’re expecting a lot of noisy, aggressive, warlike sounds coming from the Schuster Center Stage, you’ll be surprised. These three pieces are really meditations about what it’s like to think about wartime as you live in peacetime.

Here’s how this unique, thought-provoking, beautiful combination of music came about over a long stretch of time.

It’s Where You Are

About a dozen years ago I was at a concert at a summer music festival. The final piece was Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Pastoral Symphony. I’d known of the work, but had never heard it. It blew me away. Four beautiful, pensive movements using folk-song-inspired melodies and ethereal harmonies to evoke the beauty of the English countryside. This music would make the perfect soundtrack the PBS series All Creatures Great and Small—if the show had no veterinary medicine and no romance, just the gorgeous scenery.

But reading the program notes, I discovered a hidden level of meaning to the Pastoral Symphony. Vaughan Williams wrote it in 1922, four years after he’d finished his army service in the British Medical Corps. As he spent his post-war summers traveling the British countryside recording and transcribing folk songs Vaughan Williams didn’t just do his musical research. He didn’t just take in the beauty of the landscape. He also felt what was missing: all the young men who didn’t make it back from “The Great War”. He wrote the Pastoral Symphony as a personal expression of that experience: the simple joys of the folk songs, the heartwarming marvels of the landscape, the heartbreaking sadness of the lost lives.

I immediately added the symphony to my “Wish List”, and started thinking about what other compositions could join it to make a great concert program.

It’s Who You Know (Part One)

Nearly 35 years ago, in the spring of 1989, after three years as Assistant Conductor of the Oregon Symphony and three years as Associate Conductor of the Syracuse Symphony, I got my first “I’m-the-boss” position—as Music Director of the Marion Philharmonic, a community orchestra just a couple of hours away from Dayton in Marion, Indiana.

A newcomer to the arts world of the Hoosier State, I did what I thought anyone in my position should do. I contacted the Indiana Arts Commission and asked them to provide names and addresses of Indiana composers so I could get to know their music. I guess that wasn’t what anyone in my position would do, because no one had ever asked such a thing of the IAC! But they were happy to oblige, and sent me a list of 15-or-so composers living and working in Indiana.

I wrote to all of them. (This was 1989, so these were actual letters—on paper, in envelopes, with stamps!) I introduced myself, said I was interested in having the orchestra play music by Indiana composers as well as the standards, and asked them to send me anything they wanted me to look at. I waited for the replies to pour in.

Two composers responded: Richard Wienhorst and Michael Schelle.

I liked Richard’s music and the Marion Phil played a very nice piece of his—Circus, Patterns, Circus—in one of our very first concerts together.

I didn’t like Mike’s music. I LOVED it. It was wild and crazy, with strange, evocative titles and a musical sound-world that was contemporary, romantic, edgy, nostalgic, sly, and snarky—all at the same time! To paraphrase the final line of Casablanca, it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

During my ten years with the Marion Philharmonic, we played a bunch of Mike Schelle’s music. We commissioned (or co-commissioned) several new pieces, and had a lot of fun with every single one. And I brought Schelle’s music to other orchestras. To the Milwaukee Symphony, which I’d joined as Associate Conductor the same year I became conductor in Marion. To Mike’s hometown orchestra, the Indianapolis Symphony, which had never played his music because it wasn’t ISO conductor Raymond Leppard’s cup of tea. And, of course, to the Dayton Philharmonic.

Over the last 28 seasons the DPO has played 14 different Schelle pieces—more than any other living composer. Big pieces—Spirits, Wright Flight, (restless dreams before) THE BIG NIGHT. Medium pieces— Seventh Samurai, Swashbuckler!, Spider Baby. And spooky short pieces—Vox Humana, Extraction on No. 8, and then they just disappear into the night, VIRUS, and Trapped Like Rats—that are perfect for our annual PhilharMonster Halloween extravaganza.

Naturally, I was interested when Mike asked if the DPO would be interested in co-commissioning Resilience, a concerto for viola, cello, and orchestra that would commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two. Schelle’s inspiration came from his father’s reminiscences of serving in the Pacific on the USS Talladega as well as Mike’s own travels to war sites in Europe and Japan. Two of the places that inspired Resilience— Dachau and Hiroshima—are places that I’ve visited, too, so I feel as if I have a personal connection to the emotions behind the of music. When we joined in on the commission, I knew that Resilience would be the perfect companion piece for Vaughan Williams’ symphony.

It’s Who You Know (Part Two)

Many, many years ago—between 1974 and 1977—I was lucky enough to be among the last batch of American musicians to travel to France to study with Nadia Boulanger, the great music teacher of the 20th century. Studying with Mademoiselle Boulanger was the single most important experience of my musical life. Not a day goes by when I’m not applying lessons I learned at the “Boulangerie”.

One of the things I learned from Mademoiselle was devotion to the music written by Lili Boulanger, her younger sister (or maybe half-sister…it’s a LONG complicated family saga that I won’t get into here). Lili was an amazing musical talent—the first woman ever to win the prestigious Prix de Rome composition contest. But Lili died at age 24 from complications of Crohn’s Disease. Her death was a personal tragedy for her family. But it was a musical tragedy, too, because Lili Boulanger was on her way to becoming one of the greatest composers of the 20th century: the person who would pick up the musical mantle of Claude Debussy and carry it into the future; and the person who would have become acclaimed as classical music’s first great woman composer.

One of the Lili Boulanger works that I heard during my time studying with Mademoiselle was For a Soldier’s Funeral, a somber mini-requiem for baritone, chorus, and orchestra. It would be the perfect concert opener, with Schelle’s Resilience to follow and Vaughan Williams’ symphony to close.

And that’s how the DPO’s March Masterworks program came to be.

It’s Where You Are

This concert is important to me for all those reasons—the emotional impact of hearing the Vaughan Williams symphony for the first time, my long personal and musical friendship with Schelle, visiting Dachau and Hiroshima, studying with Mlle. Boulanger. It’s also important to me because we’ll be performing “Perspectives: War and Peace” just over a week after the 20th anniversary of the opening of the Schuster Center. On March 1, 2003 the Benjamin and Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center opened in Downtown Dayton and changed the Dayton Arts Scene for ever. Thanks to Marian, Ben, thousands of other generous donors, and State and Federal funding, Dayton finally had a truly (and this is no hyperbole) world-class home for symphonic music, opera, ballet, Broadway, and much, much more.

Even though our March Masterworks program is reflective rather than celebratory, I still think it’s perfect for reflecting on the Schuster Center’s first 20 years. Lili Boulanger wrote her piece as a 19-year old young woman imagining what it would be like to be at the funeral of a soldier killed in combat. Mike Schelle wrote his piece inspired by family and world history. Ralph Vaughan Williams wrote his piece musing on his wartime experiences. All three composers look back from their present to the past. So I think it’s fitting to think back to what music and theater in Dayton was like 20-plus years ago, and how fortunate we all are to be in the Schuster Center today.


I’m THRILLED to be conducting our wonderful orchestra again, back from my two-month medical leave. I’m deeply grateful to Associate Conductor Patrick Reynolds for ably taking over the reins in my absence and to our amazing DPO musicians, whose superb performances in January and February reminded us all that they play the music. We conductors are just there to help, and I’m so happy to be helping once again!

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