Like the Rehoboth Concert Band (RCB), the Southern Delaware Orchestra (SODELO) began as an idea hatched by dedicated musicians. The two are quite different. One is brass (RCB) and one is string (SODELO).
While the Concert Band has existed for several years, SODELO might be considered an upstart beginning with about 25 musicians and its first concert at the Lewes Bethel United Methodist Church in July 2022. Its formation was a collaboration of Lewes’s Eva DelGallo, Steve Greifer and University of Delaware Director of Orchestral Activities James Allen Anderson – all of whom had the will and desire to share their talents with other music devotees – practicing, or not!
A simple social media post from Greifer, hoping to “maybe” form a quartet, prompted DelGallo to jump at the chance to bring to life a long-held dream of establishing an orchestra in Southern Delaware. She was the first to respond. Both have impressive backgrounds indicative of the orchestra’s musicians.
DelGallo taught music at a middle school in Germany and had a private studio for 13 years before coming to the U.S. She started a string program in Berkeley County, Martinsburg, WV in 1996 and was a county orchestra director there until my retirement in 2018.
Greifer started playing violin when he was nine and played throughout high school, college and graduate school as well as with the Suburban County community orchestra in New York. An NPR radio story on the “Very Terrible Orchestra of Westchester County (NY)” prompted him to start a “no audition orchestra” in Southern Delaware.
The orchestra has made great strides in less than a year. It has a brand-new board of directors. It performs at least three free concerts per year, and its volunteer base manages a robust fundraising effort. It now boasts more than 40 musicians, many of whom with other groups, too.
“Our audiences have also continued to grow,” says DelGallo. “We have many volunteers and board members helping with our marketing efforts”.
Their December Holiday concert at Camp Arrowhead drew a capacity crowd in the Camp’s new building. Its March 19th performance at the Rehoboth Convention Center also drew a more than sold out crowd. It featured guest cello soloist Bob Cafaro of the Philadelphia Orchestra.
“The custodians told us that they set up 440 chairs” said DelGallo. “As people were still coming in at 3 pm our Indian River High School volunteers set up another row of chairs. After the last piece which was the energetic and rousing Hungarian Dance No. 5 from Johannes Brahms, we received a standing ovation! “
Upcoming concerts are scheduled for August 5th and the Holiday Concert is scheduled for December16 at 3 pm also at Epworth. Both are at the Epworth United Methodist Church in Rehoboth.
The orchestra is always on the lookout for and welcomes new members particularly those who play the violin, viola, and cello. Details are on the orchestra’s web site. Most musicians either have or are now playing with other ensembles in the greater DC area, Pennsylvania or Virginia and Maryland, according to DelGallo. Orchestra members rehearse at the CHEER Center in Lewes on Tuesdays.
DelGallo has some words of advice. “Playing music in your retirement years keeps you sharp, gives you the incentive to meet new people, establish friendships, and if you have special “superpowers’ like internet and IT skills, fundraising, grant writing connections to businesses and possible donors you are never bored or unappreciated,”
Greifer has his own message for those who just appreciate music. “It’s the universal language, he says. “Every culture and society have music as an integral part. It is something audiences share with each other and the people on the stage. It creates and reinforces wonderful memories”.
By Mary Jo Tarallo, Guest Journalist
Mary Jo Tarallo spent much of her career in public relations with various non-profits and spent 40 years involved with the ski industry as a journalist, public relations director for a national trade association and as executive director of the Learn to Ski and Snowboard initiative. Prior to her ski industry involvement she worked for the Maryland International Center in Baltimore and United Way of Central Maryland. She won a Gold Award for TV programming for a United Way simulcast that starred Oprah Winfrey. She has been cited for her work by numerous organizations. Mary Jo grew up in Baltimore, attended the University of Maryland and Towson University, lived in Washington, DC for 21 years and has been a full time resident of Rehoboth Beach and Milton since May 2019.