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Dayton Philharmonic Artistic Director Neal Gittleman Awarded Prestigious 2014 Governor's Award for the Arts in Ohio


CONTACT: Angela Whitehead
Interim Communications & Media Manager
Dayton Performing Arts Alliance
Dayton Ballet / Dayton Opera / Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra
126 N. Main St., Suite 210, Dayton OH 45402
O: (937) 224-3521 x 1138  F: (937) 223-9189

DAYTON, OH (May 2014) – Dayton Philharmonic Artistic Director Neal Gittleman was selected as one of six recipients of the prestigious 2014 Governor's Awards for the Arts in Ohio. The awards were presented at a luncheon ceremony at 12:00 noon on Wednesday, May 21, 2014. The luncheon was hosted by the Ohio Arts Council and Ohio Citizens for the Arts Foundation. Winners received an original work of art by Ohio painter Steven Walker at a public ceremony during the luncheon.

The Governor’s Awards for the Arts in Ohio is a statewide program that showcases and celebrates Ohio artists, arts organizations, arts patrons and business support of the arts.  Winners were selected in six categories – Arts Administration, Arts Education, Arts Patron, Business Support for the Arts, Community Development and Participation, and Individual Artist – from 76 nominations submitted by individuals and organizations throughout Ohio.  Maestro Gittleman received the award for Community Development and Participation, recognizing his extraordinary 20 years as Artistic Director and Conductor for the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra and his outstanding commitment to community in Dayton. 

“Collaboration in the arts is much talked about, but Neal not only talks the talk, he walks the walk,” says DPAA President & CEO Paul Helfrich.  “He has a long track record of working with the Human Race Theatre, Dayton Opera, Dayton Ballet, DCDC, Kettering Children’s Choir, Rhythm and Shoes, and many other organizations in the community for highly successful collaborative performances.   Neal understands that these types of collaborations with an orchestra do not just happen; they require leadership and a substantial commitment of time and expertise.   He has always been willing to invest the personal time it takes to make these collaborations successful, including creating new musical arrangements specifically for collaborative performances.“

Neal’s counterparts at DPAA, Thomas Bankston, Artistic Director of Dayton Opera, and Karen Russo Burke, Artistic Director of Dayton Ballet, also recognize Neal’s relentless dedication to collaboration and community development.  “It is a delight to work alongside Neal,” says Karen Russo Burke.  “He is truly passionate about all art forms and is so eager to learn as much as he can about them. A wonderful trait in someone who is an established artist.”  Thomas Bankston agrees: “Over the 18 years I have known and worked with Neal, he has set the standard for committed, innovative, and inclusive collaboration across our Dayton arts community.  He continues to inspire us with his energy and passion to find new ways to engage everyone in the arts. I congratulate my friend and collaborative colleague on this well-deserved honor.”

Gloria Pugh, DPAA Director of Education, speaks to Neal’s community involvement with the youth of Dayton.  “We are so fortunate to have a conductor who truly believes in arts education and who demonstrates this commitment not only in words but in action,” says Pugh.  “Neal annually visits students in their classrooms as part of our SPARK program, engages with the audiences of young students at our Young People’s Concerts, and programs education concerts that not only expose students to the amazing sounds of a symphony orchestra but also manage to connect this experience to classroom curriculum.  It is truly a privilege to work with Neal Gittleman.”

When it comes to community involvement and collaboration, it seems that everyone has something glowing to say about Neal Gittleman.  Kevin Moore, Executive Director of The Human Race Theatre Company, elaborates, “Neal is a passionate theatergoer.  He sought out The Human Race when he moved to Dayton and he has been an avid subscriber and annual donor since his first visit.  We brainstorm about projects together – many of which have come to fruition, such as our recent Best of Broadway concert.”  Moore adds, “I’ve heard Neal called a ‘cheerleader for Dayton arts.’  And I would not be surprised to find him in a traditional cheerleading outfit for one of his ‘PhilharMonster Concerts’ if he thought it would be good for the arts.  How can you not award a man who would do all of this for his community?”

When asked about receiving this award and about some of the accomplishments of which he is most proud, Neal Gittleman humbly points to just one main success and shares the spotlight with the musicians who surround him every day. “When I came to the DPO, I said that my goal was to try to make the orchestra a vital, indispensable part of the Dayton community, something that everyone in Dayton could be proud of whether they were classical music lovers or not.  I think the Orchestra—and now the DPAA—has done that.  We touch the hearts of people from all across our geographic area and all across the fabric of our community.  There are certainly many performances that I’m proud of, but those are way less important than the fact that what we do here makes a difference to people.  That’s the most important accomplishment, I think.”

Neal was one of two winners of the 2014 Governor’s Award for the Arts from Dayton, OH.  Dayton Contemporary Dance Company’s (DCDC) Sheri Williams received the Governor’s Award in the category of Individual Artist.  A highly respected performer, educator, leader and innovator, Sheri celebrates a 40-year career with DCDC.  Gittleman and Williams received their awards alongside four other honorees.

Of his nomination and selection to receive this award, Neal explains, “Being nominated for the Governor’s Award by my colleagues in the Dayton arts community was a tremendous honor.  Being selected from among the other nominees is great, too, because it gives a chance to shine a statewide light on what all of us in the Dayton arts world do.  And the best thing is that I get to share the stage with Sheri ‘Sparkle’ Williams of DCDC.  Sheri is the best!”

DPAA Board of Trustees Member Wendy Campbell and DPAA Advisory Group Member Lou Mason eloquently summarize what Neal Gittleman means to the Dayton community.  “Neal is so much more than the talented, yet down-to-earth, Artistic Director of the Dayton Philharmonic,” says Campbell.  “He embodies the values that are the very fabric of Dayton: great culture, accessibility, and innovation. Just like Dayton’s giants of the past, Neal has inspired us with his fresh ideas and collaborative spirit to dream and invent.”  Lou Mason couldn’t agree more: “Neal is truly a gem of the Gem City. He is an excellent leader for the Dayton Philharmonic and has been a champion of the merger of the Ballet, Opera, and Philharmonic, the first such merger in the country.  He is an integral part of the Dayton community, supporting many organizations and events, and I am happy that he is receiving the recognition he deserves.”

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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