Member Spotlight

The Delaware County Symphony Welcomes New Audience Members! Fur Real!

Signature Image: 
Delaware County Symphony group photograph

Our mission has always been to share the classical tradition and transform the quality of life in Delaware County through concerts, education, and energetic community outreach such as four free open rehearsals to our many communities, lively free instrument petting zoo programs for children throughout each year at regional libraries, and museums including the Philadelphia based PA Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) and a children focused program titled Exploring The Symphony which  offers a colorful PowerPoint program to explain the various sections of the orchestra including an introduction to basic conducting for children.  

Every concert we perform, every instrument we play, every composer we celebrate, every patron we serve, every performance we promote, every soloist we feature, every community concert we organize, every child we connect with through children’s programs for classical music is for the purpose of making this beautiful place we live an even better place, an interesting place, a stimulating place. Through our concerts and outreach programs, through quarterly TV interviews and annual broadcasts on cable TV we contribute to making our region a place where people want to live, work, and raise families. Through all these many symbiotic relationships we grow as a vibrant cultural institution and messenger for classical music. Now we have concerts for more sensitive ears.

It was during the many months of 2019 when our symphony and other members of our Delaware County Arts Consortium, working under the much appreciated leadership and guidance of the Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, were busy planning for our first Delaware County Arts Week scheduled for September 2019 that our symphony explored new and creative ideas to engage our regional communities specifically the handicapped with the arts.  Now our symphony’s outreach efforts continues with a new and novel program for the physically handicapped so they also may attend and enjoy all future classical concerts of their choice with comfort and calm with their service dogs, home companion dogs, and residential companion dogs. The special program began three months ago when we sensed a need for a special training program, indeed a special chamber concert just for canines. We wanted these special dogs to be exposed to and experience the special sounds of classical instruments such as a flute, the lush and vibrant sounds of a Steinway concert grand piano, a violin and a bassoon performing on stage including the unique sounds of audience applause in a real theatre with cushy seats at a live concert allowing the dogs to be emotionally and socially trained to attend future concerts in calm and serenity with their life time human companions. We titled the program A Classical Concert For Caring Canines and the dogs would be our singular focus and our very special guests.

Dogs with their trainers in the audience

In mid October we greeted and welcomed 26 enthusiastic and curious service dogs and escorted them into the theatre and to their seats. We also had our regular ushers on duty and printed program notes for our two footed attendees.  Quite frankly we did not know what to expect from our four footed furry attendees when the music began. Given the hyper sensitive hearing skills of dogs we did not know what they would do during the concert, such as bark, howl, and maybe get physically active, agitated or run for the exits. To our utter joy they politely took their seats, looked about the theatre, then faced forward and quietly focused on the musicians on stage and simply enjoyed the concert without a howl or a growl! Their disciplined physical focus however did not preclude emotional involvement. 

Dogs being serenaded on stage

When our Principal Flutist Elizabeth Kell performed soothing solo and ensemble music unique to the flute the dogs relaxed their posture and quietly exhaled in unison as they gently placed their chins on the edge of the seat in front of them as if in a tranquil dreamland and when our concertmaster Ms. Nina Vieru (violin) and Artist In Residence Ms. Jennifer Nicole Campbell on the Steinway grand piano performed the fast moving and high energy Brahms Hungarian Dance No. 5 (please see video) the dogs stood at attention with much tail wagging and happy participation.  Not even a bubbly bassoon concerto by Alex Bancer upset or confused the dogs. To give our guest dogs additional time on stage we concluded the concert with a group graduation photo for all onstage.  We are confident that our special canine concert experience will add to the social options and quality of life for their future lifelong human companions. We are now pleased to announce that Classical Concerts For Canines is an integral part of our annual outreach programs. Classical music shares with us the privilege of having a soul. Now we extend that experience to our new canine friends who, I think, grasp in their own unique way the beauty of a classical concert.

Our symphony extends our sincere thanks to the Philadelphia Cultural Alliance for being the catalyst for this new program.

Service dogs graduating