Bigger than the big top!

Philharmonic dazzles with Cirque Musica

By Eric Street

And now for something completely different. On Friday, Sept. 28 and Saturday, Sept. 29 at 8 p.m. in the Mead Theatre of the Schuster Center, Music Director Neal Gittleman and the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra will present Cirque Musica.

Cirque Musica, uniting the dual worlds of classical music and the circus, is the first concert in the DPO 2012-2013 Imagine Season’s Kettering Health Network SuperPops Series.

Say the word “circus, and people think of clowns, acrobats, jugglers, wild animals, lion tamers and high-wire artists in huge tents with sawdust on the floor and vendors hawking cotton candy. When Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey reigned supreme, that was the case. Then Cirque du Soleil took the world by storm, incorporating all of the basic features of circus (except for animal acts, sawdust and cotton candy) with acting, acrobatic performances, art forms from around the globe, dance, daring, dexterity, grace and imaginary worlds.

Now, featuring former top performers from both Ringling Brothers and Cirque du Soleil, and blending the grace and thrills of the world’s greatest circus performers with music ranging from Tchaikovsky to the Beatles, Cirque Musica will kick off the 2012-2013 SuperPops season with two evenings of purely amazing entertainment.

“We’re very excited to play with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra and maestro Neal Gittleman,” said Steve Cook, tour manager for Cirque Musica.  “They’re a great orchestra with wonderful programming, and we’re looking forward to working with them.  Music Director Neal Gittleman will conduct the orchestra.  He’ll have fun too – we always manage to get the conductor involved in the show in ways that go beyond waving the baton.

“The show brings together two wonderful worlds – the world of music and the world of circus performers,” Cook said. “You have great music brought to life by the talents of the orchestra players and heightened by the circus performers, artists and acrobats.”

The evening will include many works familiar to the music-loving public. One of these is a portion of Tchaikovsky’s Violin concerto, which will be performed by Cincinnati Conservatory of Music graduate Kathleen Sloan.

“She begins playing on the ground,” said Cook, “and halfway through the movement she is suspended twenty feet up in the air wearing a long flowing dress while an acrobat performs on the stage below her.”

Other well-known selections in the program will include Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture,” “The Flight of the Bumblebee” by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov, “A Night on Bald Mountain” by Modeste Mussorgsky and “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” by Paul Dukas.  (Many will have encountered the latter two works in Disney’s movie “Fantasia.”) Since most of the acts last no more than four minutes, some of the works heard will be in shortened forms.

“The show is great for symphony attenders – it’s a perfect way for regular subscribers to hear classical repertoire in a thrilling conjunction with the visual acts,” said Cook. “It’s fantastic for people who have never seen a live orchestra play. It opens their eyes to the world of classical music in a really fun way.”

A Beatles medley and compositions by Marcelo Zarvos round out the evening. Cirque Original Music Composer Marcelo Zarvos has written for virtually every medium from film, television and theater to dance and the concert stage and has received particular praise for his moving film scores.

Cirque Music Director Tracy Silverman has performed and recorded with a virtual who’s who of the rock, pop, new music and jazz fields, including artists as diverse as legendary composers John Adams and Terry Riley.

Time magazine called Cirque Creative Director Bello Nock “America’s Best Clown.” In fact, he’s the world’s only comic daredevil. He received the top honor, the “Gold Clown,” from Princess Stephanie at the prestigious Monte Carlo International Circus Festival. Most recently, Bello set a new Guinness World Record for a daring high wire walk over a cruise ship at sea.

Cirque Artistic Director Jennifer Nock, a former thrill performer, is one of only a few people who have performed the trademark 90-foot-high Sway Poles act.

Teaming some of the world’s greatest circus performers with the DPO, Cirque Musica takes audiences on a journey to a faraway land of dazzling beauty and mystery. The show blends the grace and thrills of the world’s great circus performers with stunning symphonic music from the classical and popular repertoires. Cirque Musica is a full sensory experience that will have you on the edge of your seats in awe of the beauty, thrills and majesty the troupe provides.

When asked about audience response, Cook shows no qualms.  “We’ve been treated to standing ovations in every town,” he said. “People just love it.  It’s a fully-themed production, complete with lighting effects.”

Tickets range from $23 to $76 and are available at Ticket Center Stage (937) 228-3630 or online at Senior, teacher and student discounts are available at the box office.

Reach DCP freelance writer Eric Street at

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Eric Street is Professor of Music at UD with a doctorate from Indiana University. His Carnegie Hall debut led to performances in 36 countries on six continents. An opera lover, he’s taught Opera History and accompanied over two-dozen singers from the Metropolitan and NYC Opera. Reach him at

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