A classical kickoff

A classical kickoff

The Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra prepares for a new season

By Khalid Moss

Yakov Kasman will perform the works of Menotti, Rachmaninoff and Shostakovich in ‘Keyboard Thunder’ on September 22 and 24.

Yakov Kasman will perform the works of Menotti, Rachmaninoff and Shostakovich in ‘Keyboard Thunder’ on September 22 and 24.

The ever-innovative Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra (DPO) raises the curtain on its 2011-2012 season with a keen eye on the outstanding achievements of individuals in the spectrum of classical and pop music. Titled “The Originals,” the season fulfills the orchestra’s commitment to entertain, educate and enrich the lives of area fine music lovers.

“‘The Originals’ is about individuality,” said DPO’s Director of Marketing and Communications David Bukvic. “What we’re trying to do is accent, highlight, put on a stage those real specific individual achievements of these artists; artists being defined as composers and Neal (DPO conductor Neal Gittleman). Neal is a big Mahler proponent. So we’re going to do one of Mahler’s biggest symphonies this season and six concerts featuring Beethoven’s symphonies.

“Beethoven is the person who kind of broke away from the pack and put the focus on individualism as opposed to the classical ethic of music being about the beauty of Mozart and Hayden,” continued Bukvic. “Music had to have great beauty and great balance that everyone could listen to. Whereas, Beethoven was the first to break away from that and say, ‘This music is about me. This is about my feelings, my reactions to the things that have affected me…’ He was the first Romantic individual.”

DPO’s season opens with what’s called a concert “sandwich.” There are Classical Series concerts on Thursday, September 22 and Saturday, September 24 titled Keyboard Thunder and a Classical Connections concert — Shostakovich and Stalin – Friday, September 23. Keyboard Thunder features Russian pianist Yakov Kasman performing the works of Menotti, Rachmaninoff and Shostakovich.

Kasman is a powerful pianist who has competed in major piano competitions throughout America, Europe and Israel. In praise of Kasman’s performance of Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto, the Los Angeles Times wrote, “Kasman’s style glimmers with the best of Russian schooling. (He has) the unabashed caressing of the line, the tempo liberties that dance around the beat, the virile technique and voluptuous sound.”

Shostakovich and Stalin — the Classical Connections concert — examines the tenuous and, at times, tempestuous relationship between the composer and Josef Stalin.
“His [Shostakovich’s] relationship with Stalin turned contentious really fast when the composer was just a young man,” Bukvic said. “He wrote two pieces, the most notably an opera. There was a rape scene performed onstage and it was semi-atonal. Stalin and his entourage attended.”

Stalin was so repulsed by the music he made a veiled threat on Shostakovich’s life. Stalin called it “formulist” music: music that wasn’t melodic, patriotic or bringing out the best of the Soviet worker.

“Shostakovich was so freaked out that he slept outside with his bags packed so when they came to get him, they wouldn’t disturb his family,” Bukvic said. “As Neal Gittleman explains, Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony was a way of apologizing to Stalin for writing that formulist piece.”

Besides the Classical and Classical Connections Series, “The Originals” season is fully stocked with concerts that appeal to a variety of tastes. The Symphony Sundae 4 Series at the Dayton Masonic Center celebrates the works and sensibilities of Beethoven. Super Pops kicks off November 4 and 5 with Wonder Woman Lynda Carter in Lynda Carter: The Wonder of Song. The Rockin’ Orchestra Series builds on its rock ‘n’ roll-themed concerts with a performance of Three Dog Night.  The PhilharMonster Halloween concert returns for the Family Series. Also scheduled are a bevy of special events.

September 16, which corresponds with Urban Nights, the DPO will open the box office at 10 a.m. On that day music lovers can purchase tickets to any concert on the 2011 DPO calendar for only $11.

“We like to do things special at the beginning of the season to shine the light back on the DPO,” Bukvic said. “The light is a little dim and we’d like to swing it back. We will sell any DPO ticket for $11. We call it eleven, ‘11. These seats will be in C tier, best seats available. But it’s only concerts in 2011.  That includes anything up to and including New Years Eve. It’s a one-day sale. It also celebrates our relationship with Downtown Dayton, the Downtown Dayton Partnership and Urban Nights. Any ticket to any concert is $11 with a maximum of four tickets.”

Another kickoff bonus is for holders of a CultureWorks Passport.

“On Thursday September 22 and Friday, September 23 holders of a CultureWorks Passport will get in for free,” Buckvic said. “They can come to either of those concerts, or both.”

For more information on the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra and to purchase tickets, visit www.daytonphilharmonic.com or call (888) 228-3630.

Reach DCP freelance writer Khalid Moss at contactus@daytoncitypaper.com.

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