What Dayton’s performing arts groups have coming up in 2020-2021

Look for the music of “Star Wars” and Elton John, along with classic opera and dance performances

The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance rings in each new year by offering a sneak preview of its upcoming season on New Year's Eve when 2,000 attendees fill the Schuster Center.

Major news this time around was the announcement of “The Art of Us: A Dayton Mosaic” which will bring eight of Dayton’s major arts organizations together on stage, thanks to a $300,000 grant from the Miriam Rosenthal Foundation. Featured attractions at the Season Opening Spectacular in September will be Dayton Ballet, Dayton Opera, Dayton Philharmonic, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Dayton Gay Men’s Chorus, the Bach Society of Dayton, Human Race Theatre Company and the Muse Machine.

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Other highlights of the new season will include Dayton Opera’s “Finding Wright,” a world premiere focusing on Katharine Wright written by four well-known women in the opera world, and a new Dayton ballet production of “Sleepy Hollow” — with musical score by Austin Jaquith and libretto by the Ballet’s artistic director, Karen Russo Burke.

“The 20-21 season will celebrate what makes the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance so great as the only three-way collaborative arts organization in the nation,” says Paul Helfrich, DPAA president and CEO, who is credited with leading the innovative arts alliance since 2012. “The season is diverse — everything from Dayton Funk to Beethoven’s 9th.”

With three major arts organizations, it’s no wonder there are a myriad of entertainment choices available — ranging from season packages for ballet, opera and orchestra to special events, such as “Handel’s Messiah” and Films with Live Orchestra. For those who enjoy intimate experiences, there are recitals; there are Superpops and Rockin’ Orchestra concerts focusing on popular singers and guest bands.

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More highlights for 2020-2021

• Dayton Opera will present two classics: Verdi’s “La Traviata” and Mozart’s “Don Giovanni.” In celebration of the 60th anniversary of Dayton Opera and the 25th anniversary of Thomas Bankston as its artistic director, there will be a Gala Recital in March.

• Dayton Ballet will offer “The Nutcracker” and “Peter Pan” and will bring back the amazing work of Jiri Kylian, “Sechs Tanze.”

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• Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra will provide the live soundtracks for three blockbuster films: Disney's "Beauty and the Beast," "Fantasia" and "Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back."

• In the DPO’s Masterclass series, Maestro Neal Gittleman and orchestra will continue to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven and will also feature works by Romantic Era composers influenced by Beethoven.

• The DPO will also pay tribute to some of the leading woman composers of both the classical and modern eras, performing works by Jennifer Jolley, Amy Beach, Florence Price, Stella Sung, Reena Esmail, Amy Scurria and Clara Schumann.

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• In addition, works for piano, cello, violin, and string quartet will be performed by guest artists, including Aleksandra Kasman, Adrian Daurov, Sara Davis Buechner, the Beo String Quartet, and DPO’s own Concertmaster Jessica Hung.

• The Philharmonic’s Family Season will include the PhilharMonster Halloween concert and “A World of Dance,” performed by Dayton Ballet II, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company II, and the Dayton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (DPYO).

• The SuperPops series will pay homage to composer Cole Porter, singer Ella Fitzgerald and film composer John Williams and will also host a Hometown Holiday performance with local groups and musicians. The series will include “Spies, Lies, and Treble Clefs,” a nod to the music of the classic James Bond movies.

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• The Dayton Freight Rockin’ Orchestra Series kicks off with Dayton Funk, continues with “One Vision: The Music of Queen,” “Faithfully: The Music of Journey” and “Revolution: The Music of The Beatles” and “Landslide: The Music of Fleetwood Mac” and “A Tribute to Elton John.”

• The DPO Recital Series includes two chamber programs, “High Octane Strings” and “Concertmaster and Friends,” at the Dayton Art Institute.

• The DPAA will also present two of its favorite holiday traditions: “Handel’s Messiah” on Dec. 16 and the annual New Year’s Eve celebration on Dec. 31.


The overall theme for the upcoming DPAA season is “Celebrate.”

“We have so much to celebrate in the 2020-2021 season” says Mary Beth Natarajan, the DPAA’s chief marketing officer who was instrumental in selecting the new theme. “Certainly we are celebrating quite a few big anniversaries including Beethoven’s 250th, Dayton Opera’s 60th and artistic director Thomas Bankston’s 25th. We are also celebrating great woman composers, choreographers, and influencers.”

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Natarajan says the theme needs to be broad enough so that all three arts organizations — the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, the Dayton Ballet and Dayton Opera — can work with it when they plan their performances. “Because we’re the only organization in the country to have all three art forms under one umbrella, it allows for a range and depth of collaboration and presentation that is unique to Dayton,” she says.

Natarajan says the DPAA will be celebrating all that makes Dayton great from an artistic perspective, especially the generous members of the community who make the arts happen.”They are the individual supporters, corporate sponsors and grant-making organizations who keep the arts alive and thriving in our community.”

Other celebrations will include ongoing arts education initiatives that often change young people’s lives such as Q the Music, Magic Carpet, Arts Connect and the Dayton Ballet School. The DPAA’s education programs serve over 70,000 children each year.

Helfrich, who will become executive director of the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra in February, says Dayton’s upcoming season is innovative, collaborative, and important to Dayton. “We want everyone in Dayton to celebrate the arts and all they bring to our lives in the coming year,” he adds.

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Subscribing to a series offers a sizable savings over single-ticket prices; subscribers get the best seats and save up to 25 percent off base ticket prices. Season ticket subscription packages may be ordered by calling Ticket Center Stage at (888) 228-3630, by visiting the DPAA website at www.daytonperformingarts.org, or by visiting the box office in the Schuster Center Wintergarden. Special gift incentives are available for those who renew or subscribe by Jan. 31, 2020. Discounts are available for seniors, students, educators and military.

Tickets to special events — "The Art of Us: A Dayton Mosaic," "Handel's Messiah," the New Year's Eve Celebration, and this season's three Films with Live Orchestra may be purchased only by series subscribers until the single-ticket on-sale date, currently scheduled for June 1, 2020.

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