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Gift of harpsichord to DPO memorializes patron

The Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra brings sparkling life to the Schuster Center in so many ways.  The classic concerts are magnificent jewels featuring the artists of the orchestra, international soloists and great symphonic literature.  

The ever-more popular Classical Connections explore the music in greater depth in a less formal setting.  Of course, the Pops series is full of special features which broaden the appeal of the orchestra and widen musical tastes.

While the Classical Concerts are like a rich tiara, the Chamber Concert series, sponsored by Chuck and Patty Demirjian, is like a single pearl on the ear of a beautiful woman.  The scale of the music is more intimate.  The program selections and soloists compliment that intimacy.

The October concert was a perfect example.  The featured soloists were the Brasil Guitar Duo and two of our own violinists.  Maestro Neal Gittleman, always resplendent in fancy suspenders, brings his special enthusiasm to the concert.
The concert explored Baroque music with contributions from the Bach family, John Sebastian and son Carl, Antonio Vivaldi and a contemporary Bach devotee Thomás Svoboda.  All of the music was authentically Baroque – meaning that it was adapted and personalized to the time, place and audience.

A symphony by the younger Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel, opened the program.  Full of polyphonic joys, the music’s liveliness was a sprightly beginning to the morning concert.  The symphony also opened the special feature of this concert – fabulous second movements.  

I am certain that Maestro Neal had this as part of his grand plan.  Each of the four works on the program featured slow movements which were so ingratiating, so delightful that these sections were also like featured soloists.

In the symphony, the second movement, Poco adagio, is marked by a subtle yet very dramatic pizzicato in the bass viols by principal Deborah Taylor and Jon Pascolini.  

The next work, Concerto for Two Guitars by Vivaldi featured the guitar duo.  The handsome Brazilians played the delicate but pervasive music in remarkable unison.  Again, the slow movement marked Andante was an air of gentle beauty in which the guitars were supported by soft pizzicato from the strings.

A special and very moving departure made this concert completely memorable. Marilyn Smith and husband Dr. Ralph have been major supporters of Dayton’s musical life for decades.  Marilyn was more than a music lover; she was an accomplished harpsichordist.  

Her short but virulent final illness caused her death, days before this concert.  The concert was meant to feature her gift to the orchestra, her prized harpsichord.
This magnificent woman lived her life like her music, full of artistry and passion.  Her harpsichord will take its place among the instruments of the orchestra.  Her memory will remain rich and lovely.

As a special memorial, Maestro Neal played Marilyn’s harpsichord in a remarkable rendition of a Bach French Suite movement.  His feelings, and those of all who knew Marilyn, resonated throughout the hall and will continue to resonate.

The concert continued with Thomás Svoboda’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 8.  Bach wrote six such concerti.  In his homage to the master, Svoboda respectfully skipped number seven and moved on to eight.

The work lives in both eras.  The opening movement was pure 18th century, the sublime second movement went into the richness of 21st century sound.  The final movement was a marvelous admixture of the both eras.

The soloists were violinists Aurelian Oprea and Dona Nouné-Wiedmann.  These two gifted artists were partners for several seasons as acting Concertmaster and a first violinist.  They played the Svoboda marvelously, relishing the musical opportunities to the fullest.

The concert closed with the guitar duo performing Bach’s Concerto for Two Guitars. The harpsichord was also prominent, as the familiar and beautiful music was crafted within the acoustical marvel of the Schuster.

We were treated to a thrilling encore by the guitarists - a Piazzolla tango full of Latin fire and joy.

WSU Opera Theatre Department

The Wright State Opera Theatre Department has the toughest job in music. The gestation of an opera singer is a lengthy process.  It can rarely be contained within the years of college training.

Nevertheless, Kimberly Warrick, director of the department, lets her love of opera infuse her students.  The WSU Opera Department attracts music majors as well as students from literally every academic area of the university.  

Once bitten by the opera bug, the students add the hard work of learning this most difficult craft to their other studies.  The results are uplifting.

The season highlights include the spring opera and the evening of opera scenes in the fall.  The scenes are well staged with elaborate costumes.  The selections give a large number of students a chance to shine on the opera stage.

This year, the scenes were taken from Die Fledermaus, The Marriage of Figaro, The Mikado and Falstaff representing the opera standards.  In addition, Kim found a delightful American opera, Too Many Sopranos by Edwin Penhorwood, to add some more spice.

Good singing abounded.  The scenes were so short it was difficult to concentrate on who was what.  Some voices called attention to themselves.  Crystal McKenna, Seth Tipps, Stefanie Dodge and Lauren Davis deserve kudos, along with all of their peers.

The scenes were too good to be so short.  For an opera lover, there is never enough!

Hofeldt-Phillips Piano Trio at St. Paul’s Nov. 15

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Artist Series continues on Saturday, Nov. 15, at 4 p.m. with the Hofeldt-Phillips Piano Trio and special guest Clara Hofeldt in a wide-ranging chamber program that features some buried treasure and a musical mystery.

The Hofeldt-Phillips Piano Trio (Betsey Hofeldt, violin; Mark Hofeldt, cello; Stephen Phillips, piano) was founded when its members met while pursuing graduate studies at the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. They have performed throughout the Miami Valley at the Dayton Art Institute, the Cincinnati Art Museum, Miami University, Earlham College, the University of Dayton, Wright State University, the Music on the Avenue series in Newport, KY, and other area music series. Betsey and Mark are members of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, and Stephen collaborates with vocalists and instrumentalists in the Cincinnati area.

Special guest Clara Hofeldt, the daughter of Betsey and Mark, is a sophomore at Oakwood High School and a distinguished violinist in her own right. She studies with
Cincinnati Symphony assistant concertmaster, Eric Bates, is first violinist with the Blackbird String Quartet, and was a winner in the Oakwood’s Got Talent competition held at the Oakwood Centennial closing ceremonies. Clara and her sister Ingrid are co-directors of Giving Strings, an orchestra of professional, amateur and student musicians who annually present a concert in Oakwood to raise money for local children’s charities.

The buried treasure on the program is the Trio No. 2 in D Minor by Czech-born composer Bohuslav Martinu, who fled his native land at the start of World War II and made his home in the United States. Martinu’s work, which weaves modern sensibilities with the melodic influences of Czech folk songs and English madrigals, is a favorite of the Hofeldt-Phillips Trio, but to bring this little heard work to Dayton audiences the musicians had to hunt up a scarce copy of the score, last published in the early 1960s. Their quest led to the music library at Oberlin College, where a circulating copy was located. The concert at St. Paul’s will coincide with a celebration of Martinu’s musical legacy taking place in Prague, the beloved capital from which the composer remained in exile all his life.

Another program highlight—and a musical puzzle— is the Brahms Sonatensatz, the scherzo movement from a collaborative work known as the F-A-E Sonata. Brahms, Schumann, and Albert Dietrich were commissioned to write movements for this sonata in honor of the violinist Joseph Joachim. The sonata takes its title from the initials of Joachim’s Romantic German motto, Frei Aber Einsam (“Free, but lonely”), and the honoree was asked to guess which composer was responsible for which part—a puzzle he had no trouble solving. The full sonata is rarely heard today, but the Brahms scherzo remains a popular part of the chamber repertoire.

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Artist Series is a musical outreach to the community, featuring magnificent music in sacred space. All are welcome, and a reception will follow the concert. A free will offering will be taken to benefit St. Paul’s music ministry.

French pianist Tiberghien performs Nov. 15

Soirees Musicales will present French pianist Cedric Tiberghien at Shiloh Church, N. Main Street at Philadelphia Dr., Dayton, on Saturday, Nov. 15 at 8 p.m.

The program for the evening will include selections from Johannes Brahm’s Klavierstucke, Op. 76, Ten Hungarian Dances and Bela Bartok’s Out of Doors Suite, Three Songs from the District of Csik, Six Bulgarian Dances from Mikrocosmos and Six Popular Rumanian Dances.

Tickets available at the door. Adults - $22, Seniors - $20, Students (ages 19-22), Age 18 and Under – FREE.

Quilt show at Kettering Center Gallery

15 quilt artists belonging to the Miami Valley Quilt Network and hailing from Oakwood, Kettering, Washington Township, Yellow Springs, Centerville, Dayton and Springboro will be exhibiting their quilts at the Kettering Government Center Gallery, 3600 Shroyer Rd. from Nov. 3 to Nov. 28.

Uncommon Threads: Brilliant Stitches features Oakwood artists Kate Burch, Sharon Weltner and Susan Schaller, as well as Kettering quilt artists Carroll Schleppi, Ron Lundquist and Winnie Fiedler, among others, will be exhibiting their works Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The gallery is free and open to the public.

Soweto Gospel Choir to perform Nov. 13

The Grammy-winning 26-voice Soweto Gospel Choir, lauded for its “soulful, profoundly moving music” (Boston Globe), makes its southwestern Ohio debut with a concert Thursday, Nov. 13, at the Victoria Theatre, located at 138 N. Main Street in downtown Dayton.

The performance, which begins at 8 p.m., is part of the 2008-2009 Cityfolk World Rhythms Series. Reserved seat tickets for the concert are $25-$37, and are available from the Cityfolk Box Office at (937) 496-3863. More information is available on the web at

St. Paul’s doors open for Artist Series

Please mark your calendars for the upcoming concerts in the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Artist Series, and spread the word that St. Paul’s doors are open, providing magnificent music in sacred space for the enjoyment and inspiration of all.

St. Paul’s Artist Series Upcoming Concerts:

November 15, 2008 4:00 p.m.
The Hofeldt-Phillips Piano Trio
Betsey Hofeldt, violin – Mark Hofeldt, cello – Stephen Phillips, piano.
Joined by Clara Hofeldt, violin

February 22, 2009 4:00 p.m.
Musica! Dayton’s professional choral group,
under the direction of Dr. Robert Jones

April 1, 2009 7:00 p.m.
Due Colori
Megan Monaghan, soprano – Daniel Boring, guitar


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