BEST BETS: Delaware Symphony partners with Dover High for concerts, education

The Delaware Symphony Orchestra will perform at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 26 at Dover High School with famed mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves. (Submitted photo)

An evening of world-class operatic and classical music will usher in a collaboration between the Delaware Symphony Orchestra and Dover High School.

Internationally renowned mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves will be the guest artist with the orchestra Sunday, March 26, at 7:30 p.m. at the high school off Del. 8.

Music Director David Amado will lead the orchestra and Ms. Graves in the solo part in the Ballet Suite from Manuel de Falla’s “El Amor Brujo.” The concert will begin with Sir Edward Elgar’s “Serenade for Strings” and conclude with Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony.

It will mark the orchestra’s first public appearance in Dover since it performed a three-concert chamber series at the Schwartz Center for the Arts starting in November of 2009.

The concert is the first event in an Arts-in-Education partnership between the DSO and Dover High School and its Academy of the Arts, headed by Teresa Emmons.

Following the concert, Ms. Graves will take part in a Q & A session with Dover High choral students, and DSO musicians will be working with faculty and student musicians throughout the school year.

In particular, Eliezar Gutman, a violinist with the symphony, together with Dover High School teachers, Diane Neutzling and Garrett George, will help create the new Classical Chamber Ensemble for the school’s audition-only Academy of the Arts, which was started in 2015.

“As part of our strategic plan to expand the orchestra’s reach both geographically and programatically, we reached out to Dover High and connected with Teresa Emmons,” explained DSO Executive Director Alan Jordan.

“She suggested that maybe there should be a partnership between us whereby they could provide school facilities for us to hold concerts and we could provide educational outreach for Dover High and its fledgling arts academy.”

Ms. Emmons is very excited for the chance her students will have to be exposed to the music and also the musicians.

“We are a very poor district and we serve students who don’t always have easy access to the arts and in particular, the higher arts. We’re really looking forward to forming a beautiful collaboration with the symphony,” said Ms. Emmons, who is a Julliard School-trained dancer herself.

Other partnerships between arts organizations and the Dover High arts academy are upcoming.

Mr. Amado says it’s important to instill interest in things like classical music at a young age.

“With any pursuit, you want to be passionate about it. If you don’t have that exposure, then you don’t have the chance to have that passion. You can listen to recordings but getting that live experience is just one more piece of the complete puzzle,” he said.

“Classical music may not work for everyone but if you don’t get that exposure, then you’ll never know.”

Mr. Jordan says the initiative has two purposes — to build the musicians of tomorrow and also the audience.

“Every study I’ve ever read says 75 percent of a symphony orchestra audience have played a musical instrument at one point or another in his or her life,” he said.

“The first time I saw a live orchestra, I was well into my high school years. Giving that exposure and that experience to kids is really important. We need our future audience as well as our future musicians to cater to that audience.”

He says the spacious theater at Dover High, which opened in the fall of 2014 off Del. 8, provides a perfect space for the orchestra to perform, away from its usual Wilmington locations.

“The Schwartz is an amazing venue and we’ve done some children’s shows there in recent years but its 30-by-30 foot stage is not big enough for the full orchestra,” Mr. Jordan said.

“So the larger stage size and the larger audience capacity will be beneficial. The Schwartz holds about 550 people. With the Dover High facility holding over 900, it will really help over the long run. It sends a really good signal that we want to be part of the fabric of the community. We are the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, not the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra or the New Castle County Symphony Orchestra.”

Mr. Amado agrees.

David Amado

“We’re very lucky to have this facility be available to us. One of the problems of bringing the orchestra to other venues is that you need the room and in a small state, there aren’t a whole lot of options so we’re lucky that we have this option,” he said.

“We’d like to play in all three counties if possible and bring the arts to as many people as possible.”

Mr. Jordan says the DSO already has two more concerts in Dover on the books and another one in Milford. He says he wants to be careful not to “step on the toes” of the all-volunteer Dover Symphony Orchestra.

“I know they have a concert this weekend and we were trying to create a little space between the two concerts but the following weekend was the only date that worked. Some people may see that as a problem but I see it as an opportunity to see and hear that much more great music,” he said.

“But in the future, we want to try to avoid having too much overlap.”

As far as the March 26 Dover High concert is concerned, Mr. Jordan says the DSO could not have picked a better program to start its entree into Dover.

“You couldn’t find a stronger show to restart our efforts in Kent County,” he said.

Denyce Graves

USA Today identifies Ms. Graves as “an operatic superstar of the 21st century.” She has become particularly well-known to operatic audiences for her portrayals of the title roles in “Carmen” and “Samson et Dalila.” These roles have brought her to places such as the Metropolitan Opera, Vienna Staatsoper, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, San Francisco Opera, Opéra National de Paris, Lyric Opera of Chicago and The Washington Opera.

“I was talking to a friend of mine who lives in New York and she asked me ‘What is Denyce Graves doing in Dover? She’s a rock star.’ I said ‘She’s coming here to do a concert.’ She just couldn’t believe it,” said Ms. Emmons with a laugh.

Mr. Amado said the first piece “Serenade for Strings” will provide a nice contrast to the fiery piece sung by Ms. Graves.

“‘Serenade for Strings’ is a very sleepy, cozy piece that is fairly short, only about 12 minutes with three movements. It’s very intimate and charming,” he said.

“The Ballet Suite is just the opposite. It is very crazy and dramatic.”

Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, which will close the night, continues a multi-year survey of all the major symphonic works of Beethoven, recently begun by the DSO.

Mr. Amado, a Philadelphia native who has been at the helm of the orchestra since 2003, will also take part in a Q&A before the show starting at 6:30 p.m.

The same concert also will be performed at the Grand Opera House in Wilmington on Friday, March 24 at 7:30 p.m. as part of the Orchestra’s Classics Series there.

Tickets for the Dover High School concert are $15, $25, and $35 for adults, and $10 for students.

Seats are general admission by section, and are available at Modern Maturity Center, 1121 Forrest Ave., Dover, 302-734-1200; The Senator Stop at Dover High School, 1 Dover High Drive; the Schwartz Center for the Arts Box Office, 226 S. State St., Dover, 302-678-5152; and through the Delaware Symphony office, 302-656-7442, or by email at

Dover Symphony set for Sunday

The first part of Dover’s classical music doubleheader is set for Sunday when the Dover Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Donald Buxton, will launch the second half of its 2016-2017 season at 3 p.m. at Dover Downs’ Rollins Center.

The centerpiece of the concert is Dvorak’s well-known symphony in E Minor, “From the New World.” Concertmaster Stefan Xhori will be the featured soloist for Dvorak’s Romance for violin and orchestra. Additional works by Tschaikowsky and Moussorgsky will be performed.

Mr. Xhori has been an active performer in Albania, his native country, Greece and France, and continues to play with many organizations in the tri-state area since he moved to the United States in 1993. He teaches violin in Dover at the Music School of Delaware and at his home studio.

Valet parking will be offered at $5. Additionally there will be free shuttle service throughout the parking lots. Sweet treats will continue to be offered at a bake sale.

Admission prices are $20 for adults and $15 for seniors, students and military. Young people under 18 are free with a paying adult.

For tickets, visit or call 302-270-1903. Tickets will also be sold at the door.

Now showing

New in theaters this weekend is a live-action 3D version of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” and the horror film “The Belko Experiment.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is the animated film “Sing” and the Ben Affleck gangster drama “Live By Night.”

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