Miami Valley Symphony Orchestra ... for the love of music
MVSO circa 1998

MVSO History

The Miami Valley Symphony Orchestra proudly celebrated 25 years of bringing beautiful music to the Dayton community with the 2014-2015 season. Established in 1989 by Pat Carson and Keith Prentice, co-founders of Theatre Under the Stars, the MVSO became an organization where talented local musicians from all walks of life could volunteer their time to perform great orchestral music for the public at affordable prices. Ron Kindell conducted the premier concert, presented at the Clark Haines Theatre in Kettering on December 9, 1989. Clark Haines, well known as a music educator and conductor in the Dayton area, accepted the invitation to conduct the final concert of that first season.

Haines would be instrumental in securing Charles Wendelken-Wilson as the artistic director and conductor for the fledgling orchestra. Wendelken-Wilson had previously distinguished himself as a conductor with the New York City Opera, assistant conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and music director and conductor of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra 1975-1985. Charles Wendelken-Wilson embraced the opportunity to create something very special with this unpaid orchestra that played “for the love of music.” He would spend ten years (1990-2000) shaping the orchestra artistically and musically, and laid a foundation that would endure long after he moved on to pursue other opportunities, including becoming the music director for WDPR/WDPG radio.

In the fall of 2000 Dr. Thomas Kennedy Jr., Associate Professor of Music at Wittenberg University, and a former musician and guest conductor with the MVSO, became the organization’s new artistic director and conductor. During the 2004-2005 season Dr. Kennedy became unable to continue conducting due to health issues and James Johnston, Assistant Professor of Music at Antioch University, would step in to conduct the remainder of the season.

The MVSO board began a search for a new artistic director and conductor, and three candidates were invited to guest conduct during the 2005-2006 season, Karen Gorden, Randall Paul, and Alejandro Rivas. In December, the MVSO also provided music for the Ohio Performing Arts Council’s production of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker with Gem City Ballet, at Springfield’s Kuss Auditorium, Ian Polster conducting.

Dr. Randall S. Paul, Associate Professor of Music at Wright State University, accepted the position of conductor and music director for the 2006-2007 season. The following season (2007-2008) the MVSO would once again enjoy three talented guest conductors, James Johnston, Dr. Kenneth Kohlenberg and Dr. Jiang Liu. Dr. Kohlenberg, Professor of Music at Sinclair Community College, and a former musician with the MVSO, became the orchestra’s conductor and music director in the fall of 2008, and would serve the orchestra through the end of the 2012-2013 season.

In 2013 the MVSO board made an important decision to expand the repertoire and community presence of the orchestra, and accepted an invitation to co-produce Handel’s oratorio Judas Maccabaeus with the Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton. The production included vocal soloists, and a community chorus of over 80 singers. Basil Fett was secured as the choral director. A conductor was sought for the particular challenges of bringing this magnificent work together. David Deitrick, who had just retired as the executive director of the Springfield Symphony, was offered and accepted this challenge. On November 24, 2013 he led the orchestra and chorus in a grand performance of Judas Maccabaeus at the Dayton Masonic Center. This event would re-establish the MVSO as an important collaborative organization.

David Deitrick also conducted the fall concert of the 2013-2014 season. The Dayton Masonic Center invited the orchestra to provide entertainment for their free holiday concert that year. Tim Olt conducted the MVSO in this performance that was joined by young instrumentalist and singers from Muse Machine, as well as dancers from Gem City Ballet. James Johnston conducted the final two concerts of the 2013-2014 season.

Familiar guest conductors were invited to return to the podium during the ambitious 25th Anniversary Gala Season (2014-2015). The first conductor of the MVSO, Ron Kindell, was asked to take the baton for Les Miserables in collaboration with Dayton Playhouse. This unique production, featuring the full symphony orchestra, over 70 voices, scenery and costumes, was performed at Dayton Masonic Center, and was received with wild enthusiasm. The MVSO would return to the same theatre for Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty, in collaboration with Gem City Ballet, and conducted by James Johnston.

David Deitrick completed the 25th anniversary season by conducting the holiday concert, and then returning for the season grand finale, which included Copland’s Lincoln Portrait with narration by Herbert Woodward Martin, Dayton’s own poet laureate, and the stirring Beethoven 9th Symphony, with a chorus of over 80 voices. During this season the MVSO was pleased to offer the position of music director and conductor to David Deitrick, who officially fills this role with the beginning of the 2015-2016 season. Learn more about the wealth of experience that he brings to this role on our Music Director page. Visit individual concert pages for detailed descriptions of the programs we will offer this year.

Picture circa 1998, Charles Wendelken-Wilson conducting.

Did You Know?

Seven original performers still play with the MVSO:

Barbara Van Doren
Polly LaRue
Violin (originally Chorale)
John O'Malley
Frank Lowe
Oboe/English Horn
Mariann Hunt
Gordon Little
Tom Jacobs

The MVSO has played at many venues including:

Kettering Seventh Day Adventist Church
Shiloh Church
Fairhaven Church
Fraze Pavilion
Stubbs Park in Centerville
Springfield’s Veterans Memorial Park
Kuss Auditorium in Springfield
Dayton Masonic Hall
DAI Renaissance Auditorium
Springfield Masonic
Schuster Center

MVSO has also performed a wide variety of programs including:

Productions with Opera Funatics
Full-length ballets with Gem City Ballet
Live film scores at Neon Movies
Fundraisers for Public Radio (WDPR)
City of Centerville 4th of July Celebration
Les Miserables with Dayton Playhouse

Charles Wendelken-Wilson once said:

“Although I’ve conducted orchestras from New York to Los Angeles and back again, none has ever been so dear to my heart as the Miami Valley Symphony. I’m proud to bring this swashbuckling orchestra to Dayton’s discerning musical public ---YOU! Let us be music to your ears.”