If you love classical music, mark Aug. 5 on your calendar for a SODELO Orchestra concert that will begin with Beethoven’s Egmont Overture, an extraordinarily ambitious composition inspired by the Napoleonic Wars and characterized by its passion, precision and delivery of full-body chills.
While it can be a difficult piece for all professional musicians, SODELO co-founders Steve Greifer and Eva DelGallo know the ensemble will once again deliver a spectacular performance driven by part-time volunteers who are playing some of the best music of their lives.
“The first thing that surprised me when I moved to Delaware in 2021 was that there was no existing outlet for string musicians to practice and play,” Greifer recalls. “The second was how many people responded to my Facebook posts about how wonderful it would be if we could make that happen.”
Those posts centered on Greifer’s modest inclination to bring together duets or perhaps a string quartet. Alas, DelGallo, a violinist and retired school music director, had a grander vision: a much larger ensemble that would flourish on the talent and determination of musicians who cherished the camaraderie that comes from many hours of practice and growth.
Taking a break amid their busy rehearsal schedule, Steve and Eva offered their thoughts on SODELO’s past, present and future.
Tell us a bit about the people who are involved in SODELO.
Steve Many of our musicians (but by no means all) are retired or have slowed down lower-slower-Delaware-style. Some were disappointed that music had faded in its role in their lives over the years. A chance to play has reopened old passions and reminded us of how central music once was in our lives.
Eva I might fit into that category. I spent 35 years teaching public school and created a county string program in an area in West Virginia that had fiddle players but never a high school orchestra. For something to grow and flourish there has to be fertile ground, an atmosphere of acceptance and people who are motivated to jump in and contribute. That was the case when SODELO started in the spring of 2022 and that groundswell has become stronger.
Has anything in particular about SODELO’s evolution surprised you?
Steve The size and enthusiasm of our audiences has been wonderful. When I looked out on the audience at our first concert I was amazed to see the auditorium full. Now it’s happened three times.
Eva We are so proud and lucky to have found Dr. James Anderson. I certainly didn’t assume he’d join us when I first emailed him in March of 2022, but nothing more fortunate could have happened to this fledgling orchestra. He’s an outstanding teacher and an immense inspiration.
How do you hope SODELO evolves?
Eva We have gone from a mere handful of musicians in the beginning to 40 active now, and I have a spreadsheet filled with the names of 60 string players and another 30 wind, brass and percussionists just waiting in the wings until we expand to a full symphonic orchestra. While I enjoy a “strings only” sound, all signs seem to point in the direction of a “Southern Delaware Symphony.”
Following the overture, the orchestra will perform Gioachino Rossini’s Sonata 1 and standards by Cole Porter, Stephen Sondheim, George Gershwin and Duke Ellington. All will be conducted by co-founder James Allen Anderson, the head of Orchestral Studies at the University of Delaware. For more info on tickets, time and date, go to sodelomusic.org.