Dayton Philharmonic Chorus Director retires after 25 years of service

Hank Dahlman. PHOTO BY ANDY SNOW

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Hank Dahlman. PHOTO BY ANDY SNOW

Hank Dahlman to lead chorus for final time this weekend at Schuster Center.

The Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra’s Masterworks Series presentation of “Beethoven 9: Joy to the World,” slated Friday and Saturday at the Schuster Center, will be the final concert with Hank Dahlman at the helm of the DPO Chorus. He is retiring after 25 years of service.

Director of the DPO Chorus since 1996, Dahlman has served as a guest conductor with the DPO and founded the Dayton Philharmonic Chamber Choir in 2000. He also conducted the DPO Chorus in performance with professional orchestras such as the Czech Chamber Philharmonic in Prague and at the Salzburg Cathedral celebrating Mozart’s 250th birthday in 2006. He conducted in his Carnegie Hall debut in 2008, and in June 2010 conducted the DPO Chorus and other choirs in performance at Avery Fisher Hall in New York’s Lincoln Center.

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Hank Dahlman. PHOTO BY ANDY SNOW

Credit: ANDY SNOW

Hank Dahlman. PHOTO BY ANDY SNOW

Credit: ANDY SNOW

caption arrowCaption
Hank Dahlman. PHOTO BY ANDY SNOW

Credit: ANDY SNOW

Credit: ANDY SNOW

“It’s been wonderful, and I want to go out on a high note,” said Dahlman, 65. “I’ve been privileged to be singing for 50 years of my life. I’ve been privileged to conduct singers for 45 years. It’s been such a wonderful privilege to go through all this great music with these wonderful people who are giving from their souls and their hearts.”

Dahlman, a New York native who is also retiring as Director of Choral Studies at Wright State University after 31 years, considers the choral element within Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 to be a unique component of the masterpiece. The iconic “Ode to Joy” is featured in the final movement.

“Beethoven felt so strongly about bringing home the message of peace and joy that I believe he felt he could only go so far with the instruments,” he said. “So, he decided to bring in choral reinforcements for (added impact). Every civilization has had choral music – past, present and future. The idea of people coming together and singing together is the most common way of making music in the world. Choral music has been around for millennia and every culture, every religion, has had their songs and rituals of music. Choral music is glorious.”

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Looking back on his time with DPO, Dahlman credits his partnership with DPO Artistic Director Neal Gittleman to be fundamental in terms of collaboration and friendship.

“The relationship we developed early on in our association was one of genuine respect and simpatico,” he said. “Neal is a wonderful person. He always treated the chorus as singing musicians. It was always a joy to work with him.”

Dahlman’s successor has not been officially named but Dahlman is pleased with the choice. He is confident the chorus, which has varied over the years between 80 and 120 members, will continue to grow with new leadership.

“The person Neal has chosen is absolutely the right decision,” Dahlman said. “This person will be outstanding and will be capable to take the chorus to new levels of excellence. I’m excited for the chorus, who are all volunteers. They are really talented musicians who come from all walks of life. We have music teachers, student teachers, professional singers, engineers, doctors, lawyers, construction workers, homemakers – the whole gamut. It’s very unifying.”

Solo vocalists participating in the Beethoven masterwork are soprano Caitlin Crabill, mezzo-soprano Kristen Choi, tenor Robert Stahley, and baritone Lester Lynch.

The concert will also feature Stella Sung’s “Oceana,” a multimedia tribute to life in the oceans, and guest pianist Sara Davis Buechner’s performance of Clara Schumann’s Piano Concerto.

HOW TO GO

What: “Beethoven 9: Joy to the World”

Where: Schuster Center, Second and Main Streets, Dayton

When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Cost: $5-$68

Tickets: Visit daytonperformingarts.org

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