Open Call: DSO reminds us of Delaware's culture treasures, art's capacity to transform

I’ve seen and heard things that are hard to describe and, occasionally, hard even to imagine.

I’ve been pinned to my theater seat as beautiful music from an orchestra roars and whispers in exquisite unison.

I was in the audience when South Africa’s Ladysmith Black Mambazo announced from their concert stage that Nelson Mandela had been released from prison that day.

Some of the greatest singers, dancers and musicians have introduced me to worlds of wonder. The thing is, though — I’m nobody special. I’m just an ordinary person who has seen extraordinary things.

I wasn’t one of the lucky kids for whom the spark of music developed into a passion. If I recall correctly, I was challenged by fractions during my formative years; that didn’t help. And then there was that bothersome daily practice that I could never pull off. So, I never played an instrument.

In 2020/2021 the DSO recorded live at The Grand Opera House. Their season was presented digitally.
In 2020/2021 the DSO recorded live at The Grand Opera House. Their season was presented digitally.

What fascinated me, though, was how audiences were transformed when they were exposed to wonderful and fun music.

I am grateful that I grew up in a time and place in which I was privileged to have public school music educators like Hal and Lois Schiff, who incorporated the joy of music into my earliest school experiences. The horizons they helped open for me became my career managing performing arts centers and my life. Artists among us today who also can engage in active teaching are especially to be admired!

I know that there are many of us who really enjoy live music, regardless of how little we understand the intricacies of the works performed. Children haven’t changed all that much. From the earliest age, they still respond enthusiastically to beautiful and fun art.

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They still know the good from the bad when they see and hear it. That innate understanding will either be developed, or it won’t. Like any other childhood mental or physical capability, a child loses every time we can’t (or don’t) embolden them with exposure to great sports, music, art or literature.

My career brought me into daily contact with musicians and performers — along with the audiences who enjoyed their talents — across five states and in diverse parts of our country. Great live performances always energize audiences and literally “…wash away the dust of daily life” regardless of where you live, how old you are, the family that raised you, or if you are in a live concert audience for the first or the thousandth time.

We have a truly rare abundance of mind-opening live arts experiences, museums and historical attractions here in Delaware. People come from all over the world to see and hear the artistic treasures of the First State.

Live in a few other places, and you’ll soon learn how plentiful and extraordinary your Delaware home’s attractions are.

At the very least, we should investigate them as curiously as those who travel many miles to experience them.

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The Delaware Symphony Orchestra is ready to give you a thrill. It doesn’t matter if you are a musician or if you are just someone, like me, who learned early on to let great artists take you on a joyous musical tour. The Grand Opera House, Delaware Art Museum, OperaDelaware, Hagley, First State Ballet Theatre, Biggs Museum, Winterthur, Delaware History Museum, Rehoboth Art League, Delaware Theatre Company, and so many more are all eager to connect with you.

Please don’t let things like admission costs, apprehension about not fitting in, lack of knowledge, or anything else get in your way. Each can be overcome with a bit of creative thought and investigation.

Make this the day, month or year that you decide to participate more in the benefits of living where we do!

David W. Fleming is the President of the Delaware Symphony

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This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: Art has the capacity to transform us & DSO stands ready to welcome you