Delaware Symphony opens season with tribute to Leonard Bernstein

The Delaware Symphony Orchestra performs at the Grand Opera House in Wilmington. (Joe del Tufo/Moonloop Photography)

The Delaware Symphony Orchestra performs at the Grand Opera House in Wilmington. (Joe del Tufo/Moonloop Photography)

The Delaware Symphony Orchestra’s 2018-19 season begins tonight at The Grand Operas House in Wilmington.

Opening with a celebration of Leonard Bernstein’s centenary and the presentation of the Alfred I. du Pont Composer’s Award, the symphony’s 113th season features creative programs with a mix of the familiar and the not-so-familiar.

“It feels very complete to me,” said DSO Music Director David Amado. “It’s broad with a wide range of stuff. I think it’s a very interesting season.”

Tonight’s concert titled “The American Dream: A Tribute to Leonard Bernstein” celebrates the composer’s 100th birthday. The evening opens with “Dark Mountains” by Robert Paterson, this year’s recipient of the A.I. du Pont Composer’s Award and includes Bernstein’s Serenade After Plato’s “Symposium” with violinist Jennifer Koh. Completing the program are Copland’s Appalachian Spring Suite and Barber’s “Medea’s Meditation and Dance of Vengeance,” which was fashioned from an earlier ballet score.

“I love this first concert,” said Amado. “It’s got all kinds of interesting connections. The Barbet and Copland are ballet pieces. The Copland speaks to the Paterson and Barbet’s “Medea” speaks philosophically to the Bernstein and the Copland is as gentle as the Barber is ‘deranged.’ ”

The concert will be repeated on Sunday, September 30, at 3 p.m. at the Cape Henlopen High School Theatre in Lewes.

“Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” on November 9, pairs Cherubini’s rarely performed “Requiem” (featuring the University of Delaware Symphonic Choir) with Beethoven’s pivotal “Symphony No. 3 (Eroica).” “Beethoven was moved by the values of the French Revolution,” said Amado. “Cherubini was the soundtrack composer of the French Revolution and Beethoven’s philosophical and musical mentor. Any Beethoven symphony would work well with the Cherubini but the “Eroica” fits best because of the revolutionary values it shares. For people who want a flat-out connection, there’s a ‘symphonic requiem’ in the second movement.”

“Alpha and Omega” on January 25, 2019 features Tchaikovsky’s First Symphony “Winter Dreams” and Strauss’ Four Last Songs with soprano Mary Wilson. Opening the program is Sibelius’ proto-minimalist tone poem Night Ride and Sunrise. “It’s an incredibly interesting and inventive piece that shows just how avant-garde Sibelius can be,” said Amado.

On March 22, 2019, the DSO celebrates the 90th birthday of pianist Leon Fleischer with a concert titled “Dancing About Architecture.” Fleischer will perform Mozart’s “Piano Concerto No. 12 in A major.” The second half of the program will be taken up with Bruckner’s massive “Symphony No. 7 in E major.” “Mozart and Bruckner are a wonderful pairing,” said Amado. Indeed, both were devout Catholics whose sacred compositions were among their finest. Moreover, Bruckner studied Mozart closely, especially the “Requiem” and the “Jupiter” symphony. There is also a stylistic kinship: Bruckner studied Mozart’s works, especially the “Requiem” and the “Jupiter” symphony.

This concert will be performed again on Sunday, March 24 at 3 p.m. in the Cape Henlopen High School Theater.

The 2018-19 season ends on May 17, 2019, with “Roman Hollywood,” a program featuring Respighi’s “Fountains of Rome,” Rachmaninoff’s “Symphony No. 3 in A minor” and a cello concerto by Oscar-winning film composer Miklos Rosza. Soloing will be rising-star cellist Nick Canellakis. “There’s so much composing talent that’s gone to Hollywood and made their mark in the film industry but still wrote concert music,” said Amado. “But because they were so successful in the film industry, their concert music just languished and it’s extraordinary music, so I’m glad to be able to do it.”

The Delaware Symphony Orchestra’s Classics Series Opening Night starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday, September 28, at the Grand Opera House in Wilmington. A pre-concert lecture with DSO Music Director David Amado starts at 6:30 p.m. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit or call 302-656-7442.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal