How Long Will The Concert Last?

Concerts that begin at 7:30 typically last until 9:30 or 10:00. Each concert depends on the length of the pieces on the program, but unless otherwise noted, it shouldn’t go much past 10:00.

How Should I Dress?

Although the musicians wear formal attire for most of the concerts, that doesn’t mean you have to dust off your tuxedo or favorite evening gown. Most audience members do dress somewhat formally, but ultimately, we want you to be comfortable. Depending on the time of year, the auditorium might be a little cool, so short sleeves might leave you wishing you did bring that jacket. Temperatures are moderated, and we try to ensure everyone is comfortable.

How can I donate to the DSO?

The DSO accepts gifts of cash and appreciated stock; planned gifts and other contributions can be discussed with DSO Development Director, Kristin Peterson:

Telephone at (302) 656-7442, ext. 1008.

Donations, which are tax-deductible as provided by the I.R.S., can be made at any time through the DSO’s website, at, or by calling Kristin.

Click here to make a donation online.

How does the DSO fund its activities?

Unfortunately, DSO ticket sales do not cover the cost of DSO operations.  No American orchestra is able to cover all its expenses through ticket sales. There are many variable factors, including performance frequency, concert venue capacity, cost to use or operate the venue, community pricing standards and values; but the average American orchestra covers between 20% and 40% of its costs through ticket sales. For the DSO, with a larger orchestra than most in its budget size, and relatively small performance venues, ticket sales currently cover approximately 20% of expenses. Indeed, the current average Classics Series concert’s direct costs amount to around $110,000.  The Grand Opera House’s seating capacity is 1,066, with the stage extension (required for the DSO to fit) in place.  That means each seat costs over $103, while the average ticket price is currently $45.

Therefore, in order to continue serving the community, the DSO depends on individual donors and corporate contributions.

How can I hear the DSO on recordings?

The DSO has two commercially released CDs, including a 2010 recording on the Telarc label, Interchange, with the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet featuring concertos by Joaquín Rodrigo.  The latest release, on the Naxos label, came out in April, 2018: The Book of Signs, features double guitar concertos by Leo Brouwer and Paulo Bellinati with the Brasil Guitar Duo.  Both CDs were nominated for Best Classical Album by the Latin Grammy Awards.

How many live performances does the DSO offer each season?

In recent years, for each season the DSO has been able to offer a five-concert Classics Series—featuring the full orchestra—and a four-concert Chamber Series, with presentations of chamber orchestra and chamber music; all in New Castle County. We also perform Explorer Experience matinees for students in New Castle and Kent counties, as well as some Classics and Chamber series concerts in both Kent and Sussex Counties.  Finally, we have recently added outdoor summer performances in both Delaware and Pennsylvania.  In total, the DSO performs between 15 and 20 times each season.

How many musical instruments are typically part of a symphony orchestra?

In general, the person who creates a musical composition, the composer, designates how many, and which, instruments are to perform the composer’s work.  In a typical work, an audience member may expect to see from 50 to as many as 100 musicians on stage.  While the composer of a work may designate precisely how many people should be involved in the performance of their work, often the numbers are dictated by the era in which the work was written. 

Baroque and Classical works were generally written for more intimate venues than Romantic, 20th, and 21st Century works, and were therefore more often played with fewer musicians.  That is not to say that Bach and Mozart can’t be played with monster orchestras—they can—but more often, in an effort to achieve some semblance of the composer’s intent, they are played with small forces.  By the mid-19th Century, composers were writing works that included many more players—more varied woodwind and brass instruments, lots of percussion, keyboard, harps. By the turn of the 20th Century, it is not unusual to need 100 plus players to cover all of the symphonic bases.  (Contrast that with the 30-40 needed for a Mozart symphony!)

The age of the instruments in an orchestra can also vary significantly in age.  The oldest instruments can be more than years old—and are always found in the string sections.  String instruments, like some wine, and I am hoping people, get better with time.  Unfortunately, woodwinds and brass don’t last nearly as long.  In recent years, instruments made in the 17th and 18th centuries have been part of DSO concerts.

How long is a typical symphony orchestral work?

This varies, of course, because it depends upon what each composer has written.  Some works take only 5 minutes to perform, while others, such as a major symphony, may take an hour or slightly more.  Symphony concerts usually last between two and two and one half hours.