Dayton Philharmonic Director Neal Gittleman charts five-year course to retirement

Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra artistic director and conductor Neal Gittleman.

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Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra artistic director and conductor Neal Gittleman.

The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance has announced that the Dayton Philharmonic Artistic Director and Conductor Neal Gittleman has charted a five-year course for his retirement from the philharmonic in 2027.

Gittleman plans to continue to lead on the orchestra’s programming and performances, but said he decided on a five-year retirement window to create a smooth transition while still rebuilding the philharmonic’s performance offerings to pre-COVID-19 levels.

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“Although I am not quite ready to hang up my baton, I understand how critical it is to have succession planning in place within our performing arts organization,” Gittleman said. He said that he loves his job and both the staff, supporters and audience members, but added, “I’d prefer to retire from conducting the orchestra a little too soon than one second too late. I’ve always tried to do this job at 100% commitment, and I don’t ever want to be in a position—physically or emotionally—where I feel that can’t do that.”

At the end of this season, Gittleman will celebrate 27 years leading the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, and will have been director for 32 years at the end of the five years.

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During that time, he was awarded the 2014 Governor’s Award for the Arts in Ohio for Community Development and Participation, while the orchestra nine times received the American Society of Composers’ Authors and Publishers award for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music.

DPAA President and CEO Patrick J. Nugent called Gittleman a “pillar and an anchor in the Dayton arts community,” later adding he “has been a major force in bringing the Alliance together and shaping it into a single, integrated organization working together toward the shared purpose of inspiring as many people as possible to fall in love with the live performing arts.”

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“So that’s where we are now,” Gittleman said, “at the beginning of that five-year window. And there is much to accomplish between now and then, so I’m excited for everything that we’ll achieve together during that time.”

Meanwhile, the DPAA Board will begin a national search for Gittleman’s successor.

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