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Demirjian Chamber Series concerts on Oct 28-29 to feature local composer’s new setting of poems by 13th century Persian poet & philosopher


DAYTON OH –The Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra’s 09-10 Demirjian Chamber Exploration Series continues on Wednesday evening, October 28, 2009 at 6:30 pm and on Thursday morning, October 29, 2009 at 10:00 am with concerts at the Schuster Center featuring the world premiere of Miamisburg composer Jeff Olmsted’s Songs of Rumi, a new choral/orchestral setting of poems by the 13th century Persian poet and philosopher Mawlana Jalal ud-Din Muhammad Balkhi, known in the English-speaking world as Rumi.

Olmsted’s new setting of six Rumi poems (“Music Master,” “The Field,” “Love Dogs,” “Quietness,” “Don’t Go Back To Sleep,” and “The Soul Is Here For Its Own Joy”) features the Dayton Philharmonic Chamber Chorus under the direction of Hank Dahlman and four vocal soloists: soprano Lauren Davis, alto Grace Olmsted, tenor Will Compton, and baritone Sam Kreidenweis.

Neal Gittleman, Music Director of the DPO, will conduct the concerts. Also on the program: Paul Hindemith’s Trauermusik, with viola soloist Sheridan Currie (performed in tribute to the late Emma Louise Odum, a beloved long-time member of the DPO), and Tchaikovsky’s homage to Mozart, his Suite No. 4, “Mozartiana.”

Free pre-concert refreshments include pizza appetizers provided by sponsor Boston’s Bistro at the Gypsy for the Wednesday 6:30 pm performance and complimentary coffee and donuts provided by sponsors Boston Stoker and Mercy Siena Retirement Community and tea provided by Basically British for the Thursday 10:00 am performance.

Tickets for the concerts range from $10 - $24 and are available by calling (888) 228-3630 or by ordering on the web at

Dr. Charles and Patricia Demirjian are the Chamber Explorations Series sponsors.

For photographs of Neal Gittleman or any of the DPO’s various series’ guest artists, go to:


About Rumi
Mawlana Jalal ud-Din Muhammad Balkhi, known in the West as Rumi (1207-1273), is the most beloved poet in the history of Sufism, the mystical form of Islam. New translations by Coleman Barks and others have made him one of the most-read poets in America today, and this popularity makes him as important a figure politically as he is spiritually, representing a bridge between cultures experiencing dangerous conflict.

Rumi was born in what is today Afghanistan, and lived most of his life in what is today Turkey. His language is Persian Farsi, which is spoken today in Iran, where he is especially revered.

Rumi’s father was Baha ud-Din Walad, a theologian, jurist and teacher with many disciples. Fleeing the Mongol invasion around 1215, Walad and his family and followers left Balkh and traveled west, visiting Baghdad, Damascus and Mecca before settling in Konya. Following his father’s death around 1240, Rumi inherited the leadership of his religious school, but it was his meeting with the wandering dervish Shams-e Tabrizi in 1244 which transformed him from respected scholar to inspired poet. A tale of their meeting says that Shams found Rumi reading, and asked what he was doing. Assuming his wild-looking questioner to be illiterate, Rumi replied, “Something you cannot understand.” The books caught fire. Rumi asked Shams to explain what had happened, and Shams answered, “Something you cannot understand.”

The mystical friendship between these two is described over and over in Rumi’s later poetry, but it caused anger and jealousy among Rumi’s students. Shams disappeared. It is thought that he was murdered, possibly with the connivance of Rumi’s own son. Rumi’s grief found expression in the 40,000 lines of lyric poetry he called Diwan-e Shams-e Tabrizi (The Works of Shams of Tabriz).

Tradition says that Rumi delivered many of his poems spontaneously while circling a pillar, and it is this circumambulation that is re-enacted in the dervish practice of “whirling.”

Rumi died on December 17, 1273. The anniversary of his death is observed in Turkey as Sheb-I Arus, which means “Wedding Night”.
- Jeff Olmsted


About Jeff Olmsted
Jeff Olmsted founded and directed the Interfaith Fellowship Choir (1990-2003), which performed at weekly worship services in New York City, and at special events at the World Trade Center, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Town Hall and the Open Center. He also produced three CDs with the group, including “Songs of Rumi: Don’t Go Back To Sleep.” The New Age Voice said this about the collection: “something really fresh…Some of the arrangements sound like they would be right at home on a Broadway stage. Olmsted’s interpretations are every bit as ecstatic as more traditional approaches... In the same way that Coleman Barks’ new interpretations launched a Rumi revival, Olmsted’s vigorous musical interpretation may inspire listeners to experience the words from a fresh perspective… a high energy blast that resonates from the rooftops.”

A Yale graduate and longtime New Yorker, Jeff worked on dozens of CD projects as producer and arranger, including Jim Steinman and Ray Fox’s “The Confidence Man”, which includes performances by Broadway stars LaChanze, Norbert Leo Butz, Andre DeShields, Julia Murney and others.

The National Endowment for the Arts and the Jim Henson Foundation funded the development of “The Earth and Me”, an oratorio for puppets and dancers which has been produced yearly by NYC’s award-winning Shadow Box Theatre since its first production in 1997. Jeff co-wrote the score and produced the recording. His other recordings for Shadow Box include “How the Turtle Got Its Shell”, which was named a Notable Recording for Children by the American Library Association.

Jeff and his wife Julie wrote and performed “Jeff and Jewel’s New Age Blues Revue”, which was produced in New York at Don’t Tell Mama. The show was nominated for seven MAC awards by the Manhattan Association of Cabarets, and was performed in seven states. His musical adaptation of “Tartuffe”, Moliere’s classic comedy of religious delusion, had a staged reading sponsored by the Cincinnati Playwrights Initiative at the Aronoff Theatre in the fall of 2007.

Jeff currently directs the Dayton Peace Choir (, a community choir dedicated to joyful interfaith noise, and teaches Music Together® classes, a music and movement program for young children and their families (

Jeff and his family moved to Miamisburg in 2005. His wife Julie, a regular columnist for the Dayton Daily News, is the pastor of Trinity Church. They are the proud parents of Wiley and Grace.


About the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra
The Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra is the largest and oldest performing arts organization in the community. Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra performances are made possible in part by Montgomery County and Culture Works, the single largest source of community funds for the arts and culture in the Miami Valley. Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra receives partial funding from the Ohio Arts Council, a state agency created to foster and encourage the development of the arts and to preserve Ohio's cultural heritage. Funding from the Ohio Arts Council is an investment of state tax dollars that promotes economic growth, educational excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohio residents.

Performance Place at the Schuster Center~109 North Main Street, Suite 200~Dayton, Ohio 45402

The Ohio Arts Council helped fund this program or organization with state tax dollars, to encourage economic growth, educational excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans.

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