When Springfield Symphony Orchestra Executive Director David Deitrick officially retires on Saturday, it’s not so much a coda to his career. Think of it as the beginning of a new movement.
He’s guided the organization for nine years, a time that included challenges such as the Great Recession, and he worked to create things hardly any other symphonies are doing in the face of that.
A native of Lima, Ohio, Deitrick had a 30-year Army career in which he guided numerous bands including West Point’s. After his retirement, Deitrick returned to Lima and took a year off to contemplate where the music would take him next. Springfield offered the right note.
Coming in on the heels of multiple interim directors, Deitrick, helped build a new era for the Springfield Symphony, along with Music Director Peter Stafford Wilson, still fairly new in his role then, and Robyn Zimmann, a longtime orchestra musician who took the director of operations and education role soon after Deitrick arrived.
Zimmann will succeed Deitrick as the new executive director.
One of the things Deitrick is most proud of is the original programs emphasizing the local community, created with Stafford Wilson. Deitrick said Springfield is the only such symphony that he knows of that does such programming.
These have included programs focusing on local agriculture and manufacturing, a tribute to the Westcott House and one on the planets. These were collaborative efforts with a number of local businesses and people. One on Springfield’s role in the Civil War and the Underground Railroad will highlight next season.
That has meant a unique program aside from their regular concerts — and also sent a message that the Springfield Symphony Orchestra was truly about community, which in turn rallied strong community support.
“We’ve been able to go over and above because of our connection in the community and that has been the most gratifying thing for me,” said Deitrick.
Faring well during the recession was another plus. “There is a lot of competition for entertainment dollars; you have to make sure you’re in a good position. Our endowment was affected like everybody else’s. We fared as well or better than others riding it out, and it’s gratifying our symphony is so well thought of.”
There are two things Deitrick said he and Stafford Wilson focused on: to provide quality performances and doing programing that makes the symphony an integral part of the community. That combined with strong support, putting the future is in good hands.
Deitrick said he plans to stay in his adopted hometown of Springfield, still working with the symphony when needed and even returning to his conducting roots.