Dayton has a rich arts community. We are blessed to have professional theater, philharmonic, ballet, opera, community theatre and even a community symphony. That symphony, the Miami Valley Symphony Orchestra, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Don’t be fooled—just because this is a volunteer effort doesn’t mean you won’t hear professional-quality musicians. In fact, some have studied at institutions like Juilliard, the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and even the Interlochen Center for the Arts. This little gem of the community has a very full plate this year that is sure to please!

Last fall, the MVSO partnered with Dayton Playhouse on a production of Les Misérables. The concert-style performance was held at the Masonic Center in Dayton. Nearly 140 performers graced the stage for this first-of-its-kind performance. The combined orchestral and vocal undertaking took place Oct. 24-26 at the Dayton Masonic Center, marking the first time the two groups have collaborated. Ron Kindell, founding conductor for the orchestra, returned as maestro for the musical, based on the French novel by Victor Hugo. The houses were filled, the orchestra full and the stage full of voices that were simply amazing. The production, inspired by the 25th anniversary production in London, features the score by Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil and lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer. Period costumes and visual projections from a Broadway theatrical company helped tell the plot of the story. A local dentist told me that when his wife said a community theater was doing Les Misérables, he simply didn’t want to see it and have them ruin the show for him. He was blown away by the professional quality of the production.

The 25th anniversary for MVSO is one of collaboration. The first collaboration already complete, the orchestra is working on its next collaborative effort—a partnership with Gem City Ballet for a production of Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty. This fully staged ballet will also take place at the historic Masonic Center in Dayton.

The season will culminate with a performance called Freedom and Joy with Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait, with Dayton’s own poet, Dr. Herbert Martin, providing the emotional narration for the Lincoln Portrait. This production will include Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, with voices from the community.

While the symphony has endured 25 years and is stronger than ever, it is going through some leadership changes. David Dietrick has taken over the baton for the symphony as the new music director. Dietrick has a rich history, full of highlights. Dietrick has played for six United States presidents and held the baton for performances at the White House, Carnegie Hall, the opening ceremonies of the 1984 Olympics and even the centennial celebration of the Statue of Liberty in New York City. Dietrick’s history goes back to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he was the music director.

Tom Jacobs, a founding member of the symphony says, “Continuing after 25 years is a testament to two important things: the dedication of a generation of music educators and the power and beauty of truly great music. We learned to play our various instruments and had the opportunity to play great music by great composers in school groups while growing up or while in college. But for most players, that’s where it ends. There are only so many professional orchestras and there are many really dedicated and talented players to fill their ranks. So, for the rest of us, there are other jobs, families and everyday life that do not involve Bach, Beethoven or Brahms.”

So you see, there is another option for great music in Dayton, and it’s been around for 25 years. Have you signed up for their mailing list or liked them on Facebook? These are just a couple of the ways that you can support this Dayton treasure. More importantly, buy a ticket to the next partnership show, The Sleeping Beauty, held in partnership with the Gem City Ballet. It is a perfect place to take a date! Check them out today at mvso.org for more information.