“The Stained Glass Series has two elements,” Gittleman noted. “The DPO performs one-hour concerts of classical music in area churches, with each concert culminating in a performance by the host church’s choir accompanied by the orchestra. Also, groups from the churches attend a future DPO performance at the Schuster Center. The (series) is about bridge-building and establishing relationships. It’s about bringing people together through music. The idea of mixing classical, spiritual, and gospel repertoire might strike people as a little odd, but it really isn’t. The seemingly disparate musical styles actually share a common ‘musical DNA’ in hymns. Over the years I’ve created many arrangements of gospel tunes for the orchestra to perform with Stained Glass church choirs, and it’s always fun to find ways of bringing the two styles together.”
“The Stained Glass Series’ outreach exposes classical music to the DPO’s diverse Dayton community,” echoed Grimes. “These performances reconnect and also expose adults and youth to musical styles outside their personal popular idioms. Add to DPO’s classical performance repertoire the rich musical heritage of African-American classical composers, Negro and African-American spirituals, and contemporary gospel music, the music performed at the concerts makes all music accessible to those who want to hear it.”
Concert selections include Hale Smith’s “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” and Beethoven’s iconic Fifth Symphony in addition to choral works such as “Hallelujah, You’re Worthy to Be Praised,” “More than Enough,” “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” “Blessed Assurance,” “Even Me,” and “Jesus is a Rock in a Weary Land.” Dayton Opera Chorus mezzo-soprano Grecia Vaughn will perform a solo of the moving hymn “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child.”
As he anticipates spearheading another inspirational program, Gittleman remains proud of the series upholding its mission year after year. He’s also pleased with the positive audience reception.
“(An) amazing spirit and enthusiasm fills the churches when we play,” he said. “And (a) parallel spirit and enthusiasm fills the Schuster Center when church members come hear us perform.”
“The combination of the Dayton Philharmonic with local church based choirs combines the familiar with what is perhaps less familiar, and we have seen year after year the audiences respond with enthusiasm,” Ross added. “I believe the Philharmonic and the church groups walk away knowing they are valued and embraced. I know mom is beaming with pride to see this all come together on the stage of the Schuster. This is truly what she had envisioned many years ago. She always wanted to gain more exposure of the cultural arts into the minority community, and this is just one of the many initiatives that has proven to be continuously successful.”
WANT TO GO?
What: "Lift Ev'ry Voice"
Where: Schuster Center, Second and Main Streets, Dayton
When: Sunday, Jan. 22; 3 p.m.
Tickets: Call Ticket Center Stage (937) 228-3630 or visit www.daytonperformingarts.org/philharmonic-performance/lift-evry-voice