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DPO’s Far Excursions is a Musical Mixture of Drinking Songs, Political Turmoil and Praise

Chuck Duritsch
Communications and Media Manager
Dayton Performing Arts Alliance
Phone 937-224-3521 x1138

DAYTON, OH (September 30, 2013) – On Friday, November 1, and Saturday, November 2, at 8 p.m. in the Mead Theatre of the Schuster Center, Music Director Neal Gittleman and the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra will present Far Excursions in the DPO 2013-2014 Signature Season’s Premier Health Classical Series. The program includes music by Johannes Brahms, Felix Mendelssohn and guest classical guitarist Manuel Barrueco performs Michael Daugherty’s Bay of Pigs.

The music in this concert originated in Poland, Cuba and Germany. That’s going to pretty great lengths for great music. But in 1880 the University of Breslau went to even greater lengths: blackmail.

How many classical composers do you imagine have ever written a piece under duress? When Johannes Brahms received an honorary doctorate from the Polish university, he found it came with strings attached: the U of B expected a symphony in return. What Brahms gave them was the Academic Festival Overture, a sonata structure stuffed with student drinking songs, the most famous of which is the Middle Ages’ Gaudeamus igitur (Let us therefore rejoice). Not exactly what the professors were looking for, but it remains one of Brahms' most memorable and loved works nonetheless.

We don’t know whether 49-year-old composer Michael Kevin Daugherty has ever been in Cuba, but he has written guitar music about one of its most distressing events. A composer, pianist, and teacher, Daugherty has composed concert music about Superman, Elvis, Jackie Onassis, Niagara Falls, UFOs, and time machines—so the story of the April 1961 invasion of Cuba’s Bay of Pigs seems consistent with the rest of his work. Daugherty describes the music in his 18-minute work for classical guitar and strings as “bittersweet, brooding…turbulent…ominous and angry”—just like the doomed invasion itself.

Manuel Barrueco, internationally recognized as one of the most important guitarists of our time, will perform Bay of Pigs. This three-movement elegy to Cuba was commissioned for Barrueco who debuted the piece in 2006. He is featured on the Friday performance as this season’s Erma R. and Hampden W. Catterton Endowed Guest Artist and on the Saturday performance as the Louis S. Cantor, Rose Sorokin Cantor, Samuel L. Cantor and Lena Cantor Endowed Guest Artist.

Germany provides the evening’s final musical work. Musical prodigy Felix Mendelssohn was born a Jew, raised without religion, and later became a Reformed Christian. He wrote his Symphony No. 2 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press. Mendelssohn referred to his symphony as the Lobgesang, or Hymn of Praise, and described it as “A Symphony-Cantata on Words of the Holy Bible, for Soloists, Chorus, and Orchestra.” The orchestra performs the first three movements, and then the chorus joins it for 11 more vocal movements of pure praise. Joining the DPO Chorus, directed by Hank Dahlman, are guests soloists Rebecca Davis and Sofia Selowsky, sopranos, and Patrick O’Halloran, tenor.

On both concert evenings at 7 p.m. in the Mead Theatre, Gittleman will conduct a “Take Note” pre-concert discussion along with composer Daugherty. “Take Note” is sponsored by the Dayton Philharmonic Volunteer Association.

Tickets for Friday’s and Saturday’s classical concerts are $9 to $59 and are available at Ticket Center Stage (937) 228-3630 and at Senior, teacher and student discounts are available at box office.


About the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance
The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance was formed in July 2012 as the result of a groundbreaking and innovative merger between the Dayton Ballet, the Dayton Opera, and the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. Together, they are the largest performing arts organization in the community, offering a tremendous variety of performance and education programs and setting a new standard for artistic excellence.  Dayton Performing Arts Alliance performances are made possible in part by Montgomery County and Culture Works, the single largest source of community funds for the arts and culture in the Miami Valley. The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance also receives partial funding from the Ohio Arts Council, a state agency created to foster and encourage the development of the arts and to preserve Ohio's cultural heritage. Funding from the Ohio Arts Council is an investment of state tax dollars that promotes economic growth, educational excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohio residents.  The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance is proud to be one of five performing arts organizations in the country selected to receive a three-year "Music Alive" grant from New Music USA and the League of American Orchestras.  

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