Posted: 10:00 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012
WHAT OTHERS SAY
We met in Portland, Oregon. Neal was the assistant conductor at the Oregon Symphony, and I worked in the development office. I had one of the organization’s only “computers”— an IBM word processor. Neal had things he needed to type and asked the boss if he could use the machine after hours. We discovered we both enjoyed movies, we went to a movie: “Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan.” We got married almost 28 years ago, about a year after we met.
We enjoy going to movies, plays, dance, and concerts of all kinds. We enjoy taking long walks, riding our bikes, playing mini-golf, doing yoga. We like to play Bananagrams.
Neal is really, really smart. Easy-going. Disciplined. Focused. Funny. Hard-working. Happy. Thoughtful. Generous. Imaginative. Lives in the moment.
Contrary to what people often think, our home isn’t always filled with classical music. And I don’t have a musical background or play an instrument. I can’t even tell if singers and instruments are in tune or not!
—-Lisa Fry, Neal’s wife, who works in the development department at Daybreak
It’s hard to imagine a conductor being more committed to his orchestra and to his community than Neal. Neal’s attributes start with his consummate musicianship. He is a gifted interpreter of symphonic works from all eras, and he’s maintained a positive and productive relationship with the musicians of the DPO over 17 years by always treating them as colleagues. There’s mutual respect coupled with tremendous talent, and the result is great music-making.
—Paul Helfrich, President & CEO, Dayton Performing Arts Alliance
When Neal first called me to play squash, I had no idea who he was. I am mainly a rock-n-roll guy with some African music thrown in. We got together to play squash and quickly figured out that we shared the same weird sense of humor firmly rooted in the Pythons, an enthusiasm for non-mainstream films and rock and roll —especially Bob Dylan. Over the years, we have gone to see The Who, the Rolling Stones and, of course, Bob Dylan.
Neal is just a great friend who doesn’t wait for me to call, typically sends an e-mail on Sunday for what ops we have for squash during the week, shares non-classical music he thinks I will like, and is supportive when parts of my life don’t go well.
—Phil Hinrichs, Neal’s friend
Neal Gittleman is a great conductor, a wonderful leader for the DPO, and also a really nice guy. He is the backbone of the orchestra, and I admire his unwavering dedication to so many different aspects of his job, from staying true to composers’ sometimes meticulous instructions in the musical score, to his impeccable stage presence and sense of humor that truly breaks down the fourth wall and engages our audience. Neal wears many hats at the DPO, and all of them quite well!
I couldn’t ask for a better boss, because on one hand, Neal is very unassuming — just a regular, friendly guy like all the other musicians — but on the other hand, when Neal steps onto the podium, he is very grounded, providing the orchestra with a real sense of security and direction. If it is possible to be both firm and flexible at the same time, Neal seamlessly integrates both of those qualities, giving strong guidance to all of the musicians, but always keeping an open mind and leaving a little room for the magic of live performance.
—Jessica Hung, Concertmaster, DPO
A BRIEF BIO
Neal Gittleman, 57, grew up in Brooklyn, studied at Yale, and served 10 seasons as Associate Conductor and Resident Conductor of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra before coming to Dayton.
He also served as Music Director of the Marion (Ind.) Philharmonic, Associate Conductor of the Syracuse Symphony, and Assistant Conductor of the Oregon Symphony Orchestra.
He’s been a guest conductor with many of the country’s leading orchestras, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chicago, San Francisco, Minnesota, Phoenix, Indianapolis, San Antonio, Omaha, San Jose and Jacksonville symphony orchestras and the Buffalo Philharmonic. He has also conducted orchestras in Germany, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Japan, Canada and Mexico.