Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
Benjamin Del Vecchio first stepped onto the podium at 16 years old. Now, some 58 years later, he’s still there, conducting, instructing and mentoring as the music director for the Hendricks Symphony Orchestra.
Del Vecchio founded the non-profit volunteer organization in 2007 with a vision to provide great masterworks of the orchestral repertoire for area residents at a reasonable cost. At $15 a ticket (that’s the maximum charge as discounts are provided for seniors, students and advanced purchase), the price is a dynamite deal.
The Hendricks Symphony Orchestra puts on six subscription concerts a year, in addition to five, free talent showcases. Plus, every summer they offer a three-hour Fourth of July concert in Hummel Park where they perform Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, among other classics.
“Cannons fire. Fireworks explode. It’s an event not to be missed,” says Del Vecchio, noting that typically between 25,000 and 30,000 show up for the celebration.
Even last year’s rain didn’t dampen the spirit of the performers or the audience. “People got wet, but everybody stayed,” he says.
Past shows include the Messiah, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Brahams’ Requiem, Debussy’s Iberia, Poulenc’s Gloria, Schubert’s “Great” and Stravinsky’s Petrushka. In February, they performed Peter and the Wolf. Next up ( May 5 and 7) is a semi-staged performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic operetta, The Pirates of Penzance.
“I always try to do music that the soccer mom will enjoy,” says Del Vecchio, referencing the “every man” or “every mom” of the community.
He succeeds in this mission by creating modern musical arrangements. “I love it when people who have never been to a symphony concert come up to me afterwards and say, ‘I didn’t know I liked this kind of music,’” Del Vecchio says.
The 60-member community orchestra are volunteer players who practice every week for 2 and a half hours. Though Del Vecchio has worked with lots of volunteer groups in his day, he says the ones in Hendricks County are the best.
“Not only do they make great music, but they are the nicest people,” Del Vecchio says.
There’s also a Hendricks Symphony Chorus consisting of three dozen people who sing the choral masterpieces. Sometimes the orchestra and choir perform separately and other times together.
Del Vecchio says that the highlight of his job is getting people involved in the arts.
“I believe in my heart that the arts make us who we are,” Del Vecchio says. “Seriously, if you look at societies, the great ones are the ones with great art.”
To view the season’s schedule, or to learn more about volunteer opportunities, visit hendrickssymphonic.org.
Pirates of Penzance is Set for Early May
Dates: May 5 at 7:30 p.m. & May 7 at 3 p.m.
Location: Avon Middle School North, 1251 Dan Jones Rd.
Individual: $15 at the box office, $12 in advance
Seniors: $12 at the box office, $10 in advance
Students: $7 at the box office, $5 in advance