More than a month of sundaes

DPO presents the first concert of its 2012-2013 Graeter’s Symphony Sundaes Series

By Joe Aiello

Question: What significant historical event occurred on April 3, 1892?

Let’s see. What was happening in 1892? Ellis Island became the U.S. reception center for new immigrants. Mrs. William Astor invited 400 guests to a grand ball at her mansion, resulting in use of the term “400” to describe society’s upper crust. The first public basketball game was played. The first Sunday National League baseball game was played (Reds 5, Cards 1 [sic semper redbirds]). John Muir formed the Sierra Club. In Bellefontaine, Ohio, the first concrete-paved street was built. And Arthur Conan Doyle published “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.”

Okay. I know none of you were alive back then. Even I missed it by a (ahem) few years. But this is a serious question, one we should all be able to answer, one that speaks to the very heart of our truly American values and way of life.

Hint: think cherry on top.

Okay. Here’s another hint. On Sunday, Nov. 18 at 3 p.m. in the Dayton Masonic Center, Music Director Neal Gittleman and the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra will present “The Romantic Violin,” the first concert in the DPO 2012-2013 Imagine Season’s Graeter’s Symphony Sundaes Series.


On April 3, 1892 the owner of a soda fountain in Ithaca, N.Y., put a scoop of ice cream in a cup, poured cherry syrup over it, topped it with a cherry, and called it a sundae. And 1892 was the first year in which composer-conductor John Philip Sousa and his band made a public appearance. See where I’m going with this?

Hey, the past really is prologue!

118 years after the first sundae and Sousa’s band debuted, Feb. 21, 2010 to be exact, the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra – Neal Gittleman conducting – and Graeter’s Ice Cream launched a new concert series, the Graeter’s Symphony Sundaes Series, with a performance in the Scottish Rite Auditorium of the Dayton Masonic Center.

That makes 2012 the third anniversary of the Graeter’s Series and the 120th anniversary of the sundae. My, how time flies.

The Symphony Sundaes Series is a family-friendly series. With tickets priced low for all three concerts, the series will feature the DPO and conductor Neal Gittleman performing works from the great classical masters. Each program in the series features an opening overture and a light concerto, climaxing with a full symphony. The programs are performed without intermission and last about 85 minutes each.

The 2012 season opener starts with Franz Schubert’s Overture in D major in the Italian style (D. 590). This overture is one of nine that Schubert wrote and was actually part of a pair of overtures he composed; the other is the Overture in C major in the Italian style. So what, exactly, is the Italian style?

Well, think Gioachino Rossini. Sure, his operas are the first things that come to mind: “The Barber of Seville,” “The Italian Girl in Algiers,” “Semiramide,” and so forth. More importantly, think “lyrical,” music that moves freely from place to place. The Schubert D major overture is very much Italian in nature, calling to mind the ebb and flow of water in a river, ocean or maybe even in a Venetian canal. Rossini would doubtless have approved very much of what appears at first blush to have been Schubert’s pleasant and mild homage to his music.

Do the math, and you’ll discover that an overwhelming number of talented young violinists made their classical concert debut playing the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto. And that, in and of itself, is sort of a mystery, because this concerto is not easy to perform properly. Why would a novice to the concert stage put him/herself between a musical rock and a career hard place? Simple. If a violinist actually has the requisite skill, everything from the beautiful, easily remembered opening theme of the first movement to the final note of the last will show off that skill.

And guest violinist Virgil Boutellis-Taft, who will perform the Mendelssohn Concerto, is not only young (and French), but he is also very accomplished. I wonder how you say “got game” in French? Serious game.

Boutellis-Taft was a student of soloists Hagai Shaham, Olivier Charlier and Laurent Korcia. When he was only 16, he won a Gold Medal from the Paris Conservatory and was accepted directly into the Soloist Program. He’s also won the Soloist String Player Prize at the ISA International Competition 2010 in Austria. And he plays an 1850 Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume violin … the way it was meant to be played.

Imagine being a music composer and suffering through an extremely unpleasant illness the symptoms of which were sharp, physical pains every time you listened to music! That was Robert Schumann’s dilemma in 1844. But as he began to get better, he started seriously studying the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. So, if you close your eyes when the DPO closes the concert with Schumann’s Symphony No. 2, remember Bach didn’t write it, no matter how much it might sound like it.

Remember I said “think cherry on top?” Well, there’s no cherry, but after the concert there is a relaxed ice-cream social sponsored by Graeter’s, where you can meet and greet DPO and enjoy a free dip of Graeter’s ice cream. And the parking’s free, too.

To paraphrase Neal Gittleman, “It’s The Three Bs – Bach, Boutellis-Taft … and Black Raspberry.”

The Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra will present “The Romantic Violin” on Sunday, Nov. 17 at 3 p.m. at the Dayton Masonic Center, 525 W. Riverview Ave. Tickets: $14 – $24. For more information, visit

Reach DCP freelance writer Joe Aiello at

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A member of the Writers Guild of America, native Daytonian Joe Aiello is the author of numerous screenplays, non-fiction books, novels, TV sitcom pilots, news features, magazine articles, and documentaries. He fills his spare time coaching College, A, AA amateur and semi-pro baseball teams; answering trivia quizzes; and denigrating himself attempting to play golf. Reach Joe at

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