BEST BETS: Delaware violinist Sords returns home to perform

Acclaimed classical violinist Andrew Sords, who was born in Newark and still has family in Milford, will perform his first Delaware concert Sunday night at the Milton Theatre. (Submitted photo)

Andrew Sords considers himself simply a traveling minstrel. The music world begs to differ.

Mr. Sords, who was born in Delaware and still has strong ties to the First State, is a world-class violinist who has performed with 300 symphony orchestras on four different continents.

He’ll be at the Milton Theatre Sunday night at 7 performing a “greatest hits” concert of sorts, which will include works by composers Brahms, Beethoven, Dvorak, Elgar, Paganini and John Williams. Mr. Sords will perform with renowned pianist Elizabeth DeMio.

After a decade of touring about 35 weeks a year where he’s been to almost all of the 50 states, this is surprisingly Mr. Sords’ first concert in Delaware.

“This will be special,” the 32-year-old musician said by phone this week from his home in Shaker Heights, Ohio.

“I’ve wanted to play Delaware for years. It just so happened that I’m playing Lancaster, Pennsylvania the previous night and it all fit. I’m off to Guatemala right after the show Sunday night.

“But it’s been important to me to plan a show that pays homage to my mother’s side of the family and my roots in Delaware.”

Born in Newark, his parents met at the University of Delaware. Although his family moved to Cleveland when he was very young, summers were spent in Rehoboth Beach and Thanksgivings were usually at his grandmother Frances Frankel’s house in Milford.

“I have such fond memories of the Rehoboth boardwalk and Thrasher’s fries,” he said.

“My grandmother’s family came to Delaware from Ireland and England in the 1620s, making them some of the first settlers.”

Mr. Sords has received numerous accolades, including the Pittsburgh Concert Society’s Career Grant, the National Shirley Valentin Award, and the National Federation of Music Clubs Young Artist Award.

He began piano lessons at 5 and shortly thereafter asked for a violin. By 12 years old, he knew he wanted to be a traveling musician

“My parents bought me a $19 keyboard and I played around with it and learned how to operate it. Later I heard (violinist) Itzhak Perlman doing ‘Ode to Joy’ on the radio and asked for a violin and I went to a local music school. The Cleveland Orchestra performed just down the street and I got to see (cellist) Yo-Yo Ma,” Mr. Sords said.

“I studied with Liza Grossman who went on to work with rock acts like Styx and I spent seven years studying at the Cleveland Institute. I got a manager in Los Angeles and said ‘I’ll be the easiest client you’ve ever had. All I want to do is work.’”

He said the early years of learning the violin weren’t exactly easy.

“It never sounds good. You plunk any key on the piano and it sounds good. A neighbor once said to me ‘Thank God you got good. I can open the windows again,’” he joked.

He fell in love with the violin at an early age.

“There has always been something very seductive about the sound of a violin for me,” he said.

“I heard the soundtrack to ‘Schindler’s List’ and while I was too young to see the film because of the violence, I was able to picture it through the music.”

Sunday night, Mr. Sords will play from the John Williams-penned soundtrack of the Steven Spielberg film along with other familiar pieces.

“I call these my dessert pieces or encore pieces. There will be melodies from ‘Carmen,’ Hungarian dances and ‘Ave Maria’. You might not think you know them until you hear them,” Mr. Sords said.

“Everyone knows ‘Habanera’ from ‘Carmen’ because Beyonce did it in a Pepsi commercial.”

Mr. Sords, who has played everywhere from Carnegie Hall to Australia, the Republic of Georgia and South Korea, said his goal in any show is to have audience members leave the concert hall different people from when they came in.

“If you can have someone’s heart stop for two seconds, you’ve done something right,” he said.

Mr. Sords recalls talking to the mother of a veteran who had committed suicide earlier that month. The concert was the first time she had left the house since that tragic event.

“She just wanted 90 minutes where she could forget about everything that happened. She was so strong and composed but you could tell the woman was affected by the music,” Mr. Sords said.

“Beethoven has been around a long time and will be around a long time after I’ve gone. I’m just a little conduit of Beethoven and Brahms and you just hope you’re not causing them to roll around in their graves.”

A virtuoso classical musician, Mr. Sords says he’s a fan of many different genres.

“When I’m in the car, I have the top 40 station on. I like Rihanna, Justin Timberlake. I really try to not to shy away from anything. I just saw Lady Gaga in concert. She was outrageous. My husband is a choral conductor as well,” he said.

“It’s like going into a bar and only drinking Coors Light. That’s fine but you’re missing out on so much more.”

His busy travel schedule doesn’t allow for too much down time although he does try to schedule a concert tour in the Caribbean at least once a year.

“A vacation for me is staying home when I don’t have a concert or a rehearsal and just getting takeout Chinese food,” he said.

He says the travel is tough but it’s always worth it in the end.

“Even on days when the airport is tough and the TSA is a pain, performing is what makes it all better,” he said.

“Essentially I play a wooden box with four strings with a wood stick strung with horse hair. I’m very lucky and grateful for every opportunity I can get.”

Tickets for Sunday’s concert are $15-$20 and available for purchase online at MiltonTheatre.com, via phone by calling 302-684-3038, or at the event itself.

The Milton Theatre is at 110 Union St.

Messina in Harrington

As we told you last week, Saturday night is sure to be an emotional one as country singer Jo Dee Messina performs

Country music artist Jo Dee Messina will play Harrington Raceway and Casino’s Exhibit Hall, as part of its Live On Stage series, Saturday at 8 p.m. (Submitted photo)

at Harrington Raceway and Casino’s Exhibit Hall.

The show will be her final one before taking a break to undergo cancer treatment this fall.

Ms. Messina, 47, has had nine No. 1 songs, including “I’m Alright,” Bring On The Rain” with Tim McGraw, “That’s The Way,” “Bye Bye” and “My Give A Damn’s Busted,” as well as 16 Top 40 singles.

She has scored three No. 1 albums, sold more than 5 million albums and won the Academy of Country Music’s Top Female Artist of the Year Award in 1999.

Tickets for the 8 p.m. show are $44.

They can be purchased at www.harringtonraceway.com, by calling 888-887-5687, Ext. 5246 or stopping by the Casino Gift Shop. All ages are welcome.

Cheesetoberfest sold out

If you don’t have your tickets for Saturday’s Cheesetoberfest at Fordham & Dominion Brewing in Dover, you’re out of luck. Officials announced earlier this week that the event is sold out.

The no-holds barred grilled cheese and mac and cheese competition will feature about a dozen local restaurants vying for the title of Grand Cheezmo. Yours truly will be one of the judges this year.

Fordham and Dominion’s Octoberfest brew, Spiced Harvest Ale, Copperhead Ale and Gypsy lager will be available to the beat of a German Brass Band and a disc jockey.

The event runs from noon to 5 p.m.

War Kitten released

While we’re on the subject of beer, Mispillion River Brewing is set to release War Kitten, a beer brewed with electrolytes Saturday.

Brewer Ryan Maloney first conceived of brewing a beer with electrolytes when he found himself mixing his daily sports drink with one of the brewery’s Berliner Weisses. He quickly realized that he could save himself the trouble of mixing the exact proportions of beer and sports drink by creating a combination of the two right out of the gate.

Over the past few months, Mr. Maloney has experimented with many different flavored sports drinks, before deciding on a slightly grapey one. His final iteration, War Kitten, is a 5 percent ABV SportsBerliner brewed with electrolytes and lactobacillus. It will be available in 16-ounce cans Saturday.

War Kitten, in addition to ZJ, and Imperial IPA, will be released at noon at Mispillion River Brewing, 255 Mullet Run St., Milford.

‘Dorothy in Wonderland’

Second Street Players Children’s Theatre presents “Dorothy in Wonderland” by Brian D. Taylor today through Sunday.

Today’s and Saturday’s shows are at 7 p.m. and the Sunday show is at 1. All performances will be held at the Riverfront Theatre, 2 S Walnut St., Milford. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children and can be bought at the door. Tonight’s show is pay what you can.

The worlds of Oz and Wonderland collide in this romp adapted from the works of L. Frank Baum and Lewis Carroll. Dorothy Gale has made her way to the end of the Yellow Brick Road, and the wonderful Wizard of Oz is just about to help her get back home to Kansas.

But before she can hop into the wizard’s balloon, another whirlwind appears over the Emerald City, sweeping Dorothy, Toto, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion away to Wonderland. Equipped with their new assets — brains, heart and courage — Dorothy’s friends try to help her find her way home, meeting many other interesting characters along the way, including Alice, the White Rabbit, Mad Hatter, March Hare, the Cheshire Cat and many more.

For more information, visit secondstreetplayers.com.

Parade participants sought

Finally, the Walter L. Fox American Legion Post 2, which is coordinating the Veterans Day Parade through downtown Dover on Nov. 4, is searching for individuals, groups or businesses to participate in the event.

Participants are being sought to walk, ride or enter a float in the parade. Any idea is welcome and there is no cost.

The parade will kick off at 9:30 a.m. at the Duncan Center, travel down Loockerman Street and then head right before finishing at the Kent County Courthouse.

The Veterans Day festivities include the 18th Century Market Fair and dedication of the new World War I memorial at noon at Legislative Hall.

For more information, visit Post 2 at 835 S. Bay Road or call Commander Tammy Hull at 302-632-1986.

Now showing

New this weekend in theaters is Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford in “Blade Runner 2049”; the animated “My Little Pony: The Movie”; the suspense-thriller “Overdrive”; Idris Elba and Kate Winslet in the adventure film “The Mountain Between Us”; and the drama “The Stray.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is “Baby Driver,” the comedy “The House” and the horror film “Wish Upon.”

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.