DPO Masterworks opens season with ‘Pines of Rome’

Stivers graduate and Grammy-nominated flutist will be featured.

Walking past a Dayton music shop, a young Brandon Patrick George spotted a “beautiful and shiny” instrument hanging in the window. It was a flute, an instrument destined to change his life.

Now considered one of “the hottest young flutists of our time,” George gives 100 concerts a year and will return to his hometown as guest soloist with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra’s opening Masterworks concert Sept. 16-17.

With Maestro Neal Gittleman conducting, the program will also include Respighi’s tone poem “Pines of Rome” and a world premiere tribute to philanthropist Miriam Rosenthal entitled “Expressions.” The new piece was written by Dayton poet Sierra Leone, who will be on stage, and Steve Winteregg, a professor of music at Cedarville University. The Dayton Philharmonic Chorus will join the DPO on stage for the new composition.

Gittleman believes the first concert of the season should have a festive air to it. “I think this one definitely qualifies!,” he says. “It has three pieces: one that’s a perennial favorite, one that’s definitely a ‘first hearing’ because it’s a world premiere, and one that’s probably a ‘first hearing’ and they’re all wonderful in their own unique ways.”

George, who has been hailed by The New York Times as “the elegant Brandon Patrick George,” and called a “knockout musician with a gorgeous sound” by The Philadelphia Inquirer, is a graduate of Stivers School for the Arts and an alum of the Dayton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. In addition to appearing as a soloist with orchestras around the world, since 2018 he has been the flutist with the Imani Winds. In 2021, the wind quintet released its latest album, “Bruits,” which received a 2022 Grammy nomination for “Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance.”



Choosing the flute

George, who grew up in Residence Park on Dayton’s west side, says although no one in his family was musical, there was always music playing in the house. He spent weekends with his grandmother who loved PBS. “We would watch ‘Live From Lincoln Center’ and that was my introduction to classical music,” he says.

Another important influence was the band teacher at his Residence Park elementary school. “She was a flutist and would play in the hallway,” he recalls. “Hearing her play was really exciting!”

In fourth grade, George tried out for the band. Although he couldn’t make a sound on the flute at the time, he practiced on his way to the try-out. By fifth grade, he was accepted.

At age 11, George had an important decision to make: whether to attend a junior high geared to science and math or opt for the arts. “Stivers had such a great reputation for academics and arts and I had family that had gone there in the 70′s and 80′s and had great memories of it,” he recalls. It turned out to be a wise decision. The performing arts school was similar to a pre-conservatory program: It allowed him to play in an orchestra three times a week, play chamber music in small ensembles and take weekly private lessons with DPO piccolo player Virginia Miller.

While a member of the DPO Youth Orchestra in high school, George won a concerto competition which earned him a season ticket to the Philharmonic. “The concerts were at Memorial Hall and were some of the most memorable experiences of my life,” he recalls. He remembers being inspired by conductor Neal Gittleman, by Scottish percussionist Evelyn Glennie and Japanese violinist, Midori, and by the DPO/DPYO side-by-side concerts. He also played in the orchestra for Muse Machine productions.

With the blessing of his longtime teacher and mentor Miller, in his last two years of high school George was coached by Rebecca Andres, principal flutist for the DPO who helped prepare him for his conservatory audition. “He is the quintessential hometown kid made good,” Andres says now, adding that her student’s great talent for the flute was immediately apparent. “It has been a pleasure to follow his progress through his college years, his move to New York, the splash he has made in the flute world and his appointment as flutist in the prestigious Imani Winds,” Andres says. “Throughout, he has maintained his Dayton connections and his wide array of friends and supporters. He’s very deserving of his success! We are happy to have Brandon come back to the DPO as a soloist, this time with the full orchestra.”

The upcoming concert

When Gittleman asked him for suggestions for the opening concert, George recommended a Flute Concerto by the late U.S. composer Christopher Rouse. “He was an American composer who died in 2019 and won Grammy awards, the Pulitzer Prize and was composer-in-residence for the New York Philharmonic,” says George. “We are both alums of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.”

He says the piece draws on Celtic influences and both starts and ends with a Celtic song. “The second and fourth movements are very lively and showcase the brilliance of the flute,” he explains. “While Rouse was writing the piece, a young boy was murdered in England. Rouse was so affected by this story that the writing completely shifted. The third movement is an elegy he dedicated to that young boy. It is a gorgeous movement with haunting-like quantities. It is very powerful and always gets me every time I play it.”

Public school advocate

George performs countless outreach concerts for schoolchildren every year and mentors young conservatory musicians of color embarking on performance careers.

He says attending Stivers on the opposite side of town and traveling to Kettering each week for his flute lesson gave him “a shot of life I would never have had otherwise.”

“We always need to be thinking about how we invest in underserved communities and provide those students, like myself, to have that kind of access,” he says, adding that the first thing to go when budgets are cut is often the music program. “I hope Dayton and other schools will continue to invest in public school education and communities of color.”

George’s grandmother always had National Geographic magazines in her house. “I grew up reading about Europe and Asia and it is really extraordinary that the flute has allowed me to get to travel the world, see great cities and play in great concert halls. I played in Carnegie Hall two months ago.”

Concludes George: “Music is everywhere in the world; everyone wants to experience arts and beauty no matter your culture or where you live.”


What: “Pines of Rome,” opening concert for the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra’s Masterworks Series featuring Dayton native and Grammy Award-nominated flutist Brandon Patrick George

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16 and Saturday, Sept. 17

Where: Benjamin and Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center, 1 W. Second St., Dayton

Tickets: $5 and up. Call 937-228-3630 or visit daytonperformingarts.org/tickets.

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