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The Dayton Philharmonic Presents Olivier Messiaen’s Ecstatic, Otherworldly, and Completely Mind-blowing Turangalîla-Symphony

Communications & Media Manager
Dayton Performing Arts Alliance
Phone 937-224-3521 x1138

DAYTON, OH (September 18, 2019) – On Friday, October 18, 2019 and Saturday, October 19, 2019 at 8:00 pm in the Mead Theatre of the Schuster Center, Artistic Director and Conductor Neal Gittleman and the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra will present the third concert of the 2019–2020 Masterworks Series, Messiaen’s Turangalîla. The DPO is pleased to welcome to the stage guest musicians Estelle Lemire and Michael Chertock, who are the DPAA 2019-2020 Erma R. and Hampden W. Catterton Endowed Guest Artists. The Masterworks Series Sponsor for the 2019-2020 Season of Titans is the Dayton Philharmonic Volunteer Association.

Olivier Messiaen was an important French composer of the middle twentieth century. He did not, however, enjoy unremitting success during his lifetime. His personal life was fraught with trauma and emotional turmoil. During WWII, he was captured and held by the German army as a POW. When the war ended and he was reunited with his wife, she suffered a debilitating illness that left her mentally incapacitated, forcing Messiaen to place her in an institution to tend to her care. In the midst of this grief, Messiaen began a relationship with Yvonne Loriod, a skilled pianist with whom he had worked for years. That Messiaen’s wife, whatever her state of mind may have been, was still alive made his relationship with Loriod complicated. He saw his art as the only outlet possible in these circumstances, and he both wrote music for her and collaborated on performances with her.

His Turangalîla-Symphony was one of those works. It is a colossal piece, lengthy in its duration and elaborate in its orchestration. Messiaen included not only the standard symphonic instruments but also a substantial battery of percussion as well as a part for solo piano, written especially for Loriod. But the most unusual instrument Messiaen required was the ondes Martenot, an electronic keyboard instrument whose sound has an otherworldly, sometimes eerie quality. Unsurprisingly the ondes has been sometimes used in the soundtracks of science fiction movies, but numerous classical composers have featured the instrument in their works as well.

Turangalîla was commissioned by Serge Koussevitzky for the Boston Symphony Orchestra and was first performed by that organization in 1949. Since its premiere, the work has acquired an international reputation and made Messiaen famous, even though the size of the orchestra and the unusual instrumentation make it a difficult piece to perform.

Messiaen wrote Turangalîla in ten parts, but he tied those parts together with four themes. The first of these is what he calls the “statue theme,” played by the trombones “with the heavy, terrifying brutality of old Mexican monuments,” as he puts it. We hear this theme almost immediately in the Introduction. The second theme, what Messiaen calls the “flower theme,” is played very quietly by two clarinets, or as he says, “two voices like a pair of matching eyes.” This theme is also first heard in the Introduction. The third theme, the “love theme,” is first heard during the second part of the work, Love Song I. The fourth “theme” is a succession of chords, used throughout this strange and beautiful tribute to love.

Joining the DPO to present this challenging yet masterful work by Olivier Messiaen are guest musicians Estelle Lemire and Michael Chertock. Michael Chertock is currently chair of the Piano Department at University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. The Boston Globe has called his playing “unmannered, zestful, and lovely,” and the Cincinnati Enquirer has described it as “intelligent and disciplined…noble…finely finished…expressive and well-controlled.” He will be the piano soloist for this performance.

Estelle Lemire graduated from the Conservatoire de musique du Québec in Montréal and is currently the ondes Martenot teacher at the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal, the only class of its kind in North America. She is considered one of the world’s leading musicians on the ondes Martenot and will be playing this unique instrument for this performance.

For the seventh year in a row, Dayton Performing Arts Alliance is pleased to partner with the University of Dayton and its unique and innovative Arts Immersion initiative. All first-year students at the University of Dayton enrolled in a Humanities Commons course will attend a performance of Messiaen’s Turangalîla as their Arts Immersion Experience for the 2019–2020 academic year. To further enhance learning and engage students, University faculty teaching Humanities Commons courses will incorporate aspects of the performance through the lens of their disciplines and into their courses.

Tickets for Messiaen’s Turangalîla begin at $12 and are available at Ticket Center Stage (937) 228-3630 or online at www.daytonperformingarts.org. Senior, teacher and student discounts are available at the box office. For more information or to order subscriptions, including flexible subscription types that include performances by Dayton Philharmonic, Dayton Opera and Dayton Ballet, visit www.daytonperformingarts.org.


About the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance
The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance was formed in July 2012 as the result of a groundbreaking and innovative merger between the Dayton Ballet, the Dayton Opera, and the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. Together, they are the largest performing arts organization in the community, offering a tremendous variety of performance and education programs and setting a new standard for artistic excellence.  Dayton Performing Arts Alliance performances are made possible in part by Montgomery County and Culture Works, the single largest source of community funds for the arts and culture in the Miami Valley. The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance also receives partial funding from the Ohio Arts Council, a state agency created to foster and encourage the development of the arts and to preserve Ohio’s cultural heritage. Funding from the Ohio Arts Council is an investment of state tax dollars that promotes economic growth, educational excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohio residents. In 2013, The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance was thrilled to be one of five performing arts organizations in the country selected to receive a three-year “Music Alive” grant from New Music USA and the League of American Orchestras. The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance is the proud recipient of a 2017-2018 Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.