It started in fifth grade. When I brought home that shiny, new flute, I knew music would always be a part of my life. By middle school I was playing not only the flute but also the oboe and bassoon. I had a dream of being a band director and sharing my joy of performing with a new generation of band geeks.

Fast forward to high school and I had the pleasure of going to my first performance of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. I can remember the excitement of taking the school bus on the hour-long trip into the ‘big city’ to hear and truly understand what a performance of this magnitude was like.

They didn’t disappoint. After just the first few notes of the “1812 Overture” by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky I was hooked. I could not understand how all of my friends were not as impressed and overwhelmed by all of the notes flying around Memorial Hall.

Although misunderstood by the students I was with, my experience was not unique. Students from schools all over the Miami Valley were there that day to share in this wonderful adventure. And all of us had the Dayton Philharmonic Volunteer Association to thank.

Who is the DPVA
Created in 1952, The Dayton Philharmonic Volunteer Association has an ongoing mission of supporting the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra specifically with educational programs, event and performance promotions, fundraising and membership development.

One of the largest education programs in the United States, Dayton Philharmonic Volunteer Association’s Young People’s Concert Previews like the one I attended are award winning. In addition to bringing students to the orchestra, Dayton Philharmonic Volunteer Association sends orchestra members into schools to provide encouragement to young musicians through the Q the Music Classroom and Orchestra & You programs. Violinists, flautists, trombonists, and even the occasional bassoonist would share their talents and love of music with students like me dying to learn more.

Providing opportunity
In addition to the educational programs the organization raises money to provide scholarships for college and summer music camps, cover the cost of youth orchestra participation fees and  pay for musicians and entire music programs to attend competitions and awards events. The group also provides financial assistance to help area music programs with sectional coaches and in acquiring music.

Every year, Dayton Philharmonic Volunteer Association sponsors the Concerto Competition, a competition designed to identify outstanding talented young musicians in the Dayton area. The goal is to not only encourage young musicians to pursue musical study but also to give them a sense of what music competition is like.

Open to area high school sophomores through seniors Concerto auditions are conducted for piano, strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion. Distinguished area musicians judge the students. Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra Music Director Neal Gittleman judges the finals. The winner receives a $500 cash award and is the featured soloist with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra at a Young People’s Concert the following season.

Probably the most well known faces of the Dayton Philharmonic Volunteer Association are all those friendly ushers who guide and direct students to their seats and ensure that there is a modicum of good behavior happening throughout the educational concerts. In fact in my first experience there were a couple of older gentlemen located at the back of theatre behind my class. The performance began with a lovely version of the Star Spangled Banner after which two, rather drunk gentlemen yelled out, “Play Ball!” The speed at which the ushers had them out of their seats and out the doors was impressive to say the least!

Unique opportunities
As a musician, the most impactful role the Dayton Philharmonic Volunteer Association played in my life was to provide used instruments to my school’s band programs. Its donation of oboes and bassoons to both the middle school and high school band programs insured that I had experience playing instruments my family could never have afforded on our own (even used, a bassoon goes for upward of $4,000).

Those instruments, along with some incredible instruction from my band directors, helped me secure a scholarship on bassoon for my first year at Bowling Green State University and put the dream of a college education in my grasp.

How you can help
In May, Dayton Philharmonic Volunteer Association will host the 40th annual Designers’ Show House and Gardens. The grand Tudor home is owned by David and Barbette Spitler. Known as The Leland Manor it is located at 1375 E. Siebenthaler Ave. and is adjacent to Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark. Designers, contractors, electricians, gardeners, plumbers and painters are currently all over the estate working to create an incredible design environment for visitors to tour.

The Leland Manor gets its name from the Leland family that built the home and estate in 1926. A self-taught mathematician and engineer, George Leland moved his growing family to the area to work for Delco Products Division in 1918. Their incredible, 6700-square-foot home sits on 4.8 acres with tennis courts, gardens, six bedrooms and three-and-half baths.

The Designers’ Show House and Gardens event will be May 3 through May 19. All proceeds benefit music education, the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra and the Dayton Philharmonic Volunteer Association. For more information or to get tickets visit DPVA.org/show-house/




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