BEST BETS: Hamilton at the helm for Dover Symphony concert

The Dover Symphony Orchestra’s “Ringing in the Holiday Season” concert will do just that and more Sunday afternoon at Dover Downs’ Rollins Center.

Along with playing a host of seasonal favorites, the symphony will also perform the children’s favorite “Peter and the Wolf.”

The piece, written in 1936 by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev, will be narrated by Betty Mae Hamilton. Ms. Hamilton, of Dover, is a longtime supporter of the DSO and a former president.

She served as narrator the first time the symphony performed the piece back in 1972. It was her thought that the orchestra start doing performances for youth.

“I was invited to join the board of directors in 1972 and at the first meeting, I asked the other board members to consider doing a concert just for children,” she said.

“In Richmond, Virginia, where I previously lived, I was always impressed by the local symphony’s annual concerts that were aimed at fifth- and sixth-graders and we talked about if we could do something similar here in Dover. We decided to give it a try in November of that year and that was the first of our Young People’s Concerts.”

Best Bets logo -NEWIn recent years, the DSO has stopped calling the annual shows “Young People’s Concerts,” opting to make it a holiday concert but the aim is always the same — to get youth involved in the symphony.

Ms. Hamilton, a former public school music teacher and a Connecticut native, said the goal of the performances were the same back then as they are now.

“Children, at the time, were not really listening to symphonic music — and they aren’t today either. I thought it was important to get them exposed to all different types of music,” said Ms. Hamilton, who served as DSO president from 1975 to 1989.

She thinks a piece like “Peter and the Wolf,” which spotlights the various instruments in a symphony, is the perfect introduction for kids.

“The narrator helps explain what the children are listening to. Does the story go along with the music? Is there a theme? We haven’t always had a narrator. But as a school teacher, I could see how important this music could be on a child,” Ms. Hamilton said of the piece, which will be performed by the symphony for the seventh time, the last time in 2008.

After serving as president, Ms. Hamilton was involved in fundraising for the DSO, most notably organizing the annual house tours.

Involved in some way with the orchestra for 45 of its 48 years, Ms. Hamilton has seen “tremendous growth” over the years.

“We started in a room at Wesley College, have played at Central Middle School in Dover, the Schwartz Center, Calvary Church of God and now Dover Downs,” she said of the orchestra currently conducted by Donald Buxton.

“It has expanded greatly over the years and every conductor has brought his own skills and

Betty Mae Hamilton

Betty Mae Hamilton

talents to what is essentially a volunteer orchestra.”

She points to the tough economic times in 2007 and 2008 when many larger professional orchestras disbanded but the DSO did not.

“We don’t have a huge budget and the volunteer support and the community support have all been outstanding. I think that’s why it has lasted all these years,” she said.

Ms. Hamilton said the Dover Symphony Orchestra provides a valuable service to the area.

“I think the culture of a community is vitally important,” she said.

“When a business is locating a plant or an office, they look around and see what Dover has to offer. They see we have a ballet and an art league and say ‘My goodness, they have a top-notch symphony as well.’ I think it’s one of the things that makes up a welcoming community.”

Along with the music, the DSO will have about 25 local artists and artisans displaying their wares for sale.

“Our patrons have come to enjoy their presence over the past five years, seeing the beautiful creations these talented people bring to Central Delaware, and I am pleased that they enjoy participating in this aspect of our concert,” said DSO President Nancy Pikulik.

The artisans’ displays will open at 1:30 p.m. and the concert starts at 3. Sweet treats will also be available at a bake sale.

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

For ticket sales, visit www.doversymphony.org or call 302-270-1903. Tickets will also be sold at the door.

‘A Christmas Carol’

“A Christmas Carol” comes to life in downtown Milford starting this weekend as the Second Street Players present “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. It plays tonight through Sunday and Dec. 2-4.

Friday and Saturday curtain is at 8 p.m. and Sunday curtain is at 3 p.m. All performances will be held at the Riverfront Theater, 2 S. Walnut St., Milford. Tickets are $17 and can be purchased at brownpapertickets.com or by calling the box office at (800) 838-3006.

Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” tells the story of a bitter old miser named Ebenezer Scrooge and his transformation into a gentler, kinder man after visitations by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come.

Don Lonsky and Lezlie Eustis will direct.

For more information on this show and everything else happening at the Riverfront Theater visit secondstreetplayers.com.

Tree lightings slated

•The official kickoff to the 2016 holiday season will be Rehoboth Beach Main Street’s Tree Lighting and Sing-Along at the bandstand today from 6:30 to 7 p.m.

Drexel Davison, owner of Bad Hair Day, will host the event and dancers from Sussex Dance Academy will be dressed in costume from “The Nutcracker,” passing out candy canes to the crowd.

For more information, call 302-227-2772, or visit www.downtownrb.com.

•The Dewey Beach tree lighting festivities will take place Saturday beginning at 6 p.m. at Fifer’s Orchards market. Parking is free on any street in Dewey. Attendees are encouraged to bring their family and refreshments.

•The Harrington Christmas tree lighting will take place on Tuesday, at 6 p.m. at the Chief Norman Barlow Pavilion.

The Lake Forest Central and Lake Forest High School choruses will be on hand to welcome in the holiday season. Hot chocolate and cookies will be served. Rain date will be Wednesday at 6 p.m.

•Dover’s Capital Holiday Celebration is Thursday in front of City Hall and throughout downtown.

You are invited to arrive at 5 p.m. to enjoy crafts, snacks and dancing at the Dover Public Library and carriage rides and music along Loockerman Street.

Carols by local dignitaries and children and tree lighting start at 6 p.m. followed by Santa’s arrival and shopping Downtown until 8.

Musical performances will also take place in front of City Hall, Loockerman Way Plaza.

Free hot chocolate, cookies and food trucks will be available.

Gypsy Wind Saturday

Acclaimed world folk quartet Gypsy Wind will put a holiday spin on their blend of American and Celtic folk music at the Milton Theatre on Saturday.

The quartet is comprised of two couples and featuring fiddle, banjo, guitar, keyboard, pennywhistle and world percussion.

Tickets are $15-25. To purchase them, visit www.miltontheatre.com or call 302-684-3038. The Milton Theatre is at 110 Union St.

Winter WonderFEST

The Winter WonderFEST — made up of the Light Spectacular and Christmas Village — will bring the holiday spirit to southern Delaware until Jan. 1.

The two-mile Light Spectacular is a drive-thru light show with more than 60 displays that brighten the night at Cape Henlopen State Park.

The Christmas Village at the Cape May-Lewes Ferry Terminal will have an ice skating rink, live music, indoor holiday workshops, a strolling Santa and carnival rides, including a giant Ferris wheel.

Visit Delaware is a co-sponsor of the festival.

Light Spectacular

•Through Dec. 21 (Thursday-Sunday)

•Dec. 22 – Jan. 1 (daily)

•Time: 5-10 p.m. (Thurs. and Sun. until 9 p.m.)

•Price: $15 (cars), $30 (vans), $50 (buses), discounts available for multiple vehicles.

Christmas Village

•Nov. 25 – Dec. 22 (Fri. and Sat.)

•Dec. 23 – Jan. 1 (daily)

•Time: 5-9 p.m.

•Price: Free admission and parking, ride/activity tickets are 60/$40 or 100/$60

For information, see the weekly updates at www.WonderFESTDE.org.

Now showing

New this weekend in theaters is the Brad Pitt World War-era film “Allied,” the comedy sequel “Bad Santa 2,” the animated “Moana 3D” and Warren Beatty plays Howard Hughes in “Rules Don’t Apply”.

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is the horror film “Don’t Breathe” and the animated “Pete’s Dragon” and “The BFG.”

To share news of your entertainment group, venue or event, contact Craig Horleman at 741-8224 or chorl@newszap.com.

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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