In conjunction with the 80th Dover Days Festival, the Dover Symphony Orchestra will perform a special concert at Calvary Assembly of God on Saturday evening.

In conjunction with the 80th Dover Days Festival, the Dover Symphony Orchestra will perform a special concert at Calvary Assembly of God on Saturday evening.

Having led DSO in Dover Days concerts for nearly two decades, the Dover Post sat down with conductor Don Buxton, who's been with the group for 23 years, to discuss the significance of playing in this year's festival, the selections his orchestra will perform and more.

Q What's it mean to you to play at the 80th annual Dover Days Festival?
A We have been doing the Dover Days concert for a long time; it's probably been 15 years. That concert has been a mainstay of our repertoire and concert season for many years.

Q How did the partnership with Calvary come about?
A We're a non-profit organization so we were looking for places that would partner with us in terms of sharing their space without causing us enormous amounts of money to do concerts and rehearsals. So Calvary stepped forward and said it'll offer its community center space and also space at its church, which is a large beautiful venue for performances. So we've been doing concerts there a few years, which has been terrific and we really have enjoyed that partnership.

Q What are some of the pieces you'll be performing in your repertoire?
A We'll be doing Mozart's "Titus Overture," Tchaikovsky's "Russian Choral," Bizet's "Carmen Suite" and Brahms' "Symphony No. 1."

Q How do you select the pieces you play in concert?
A We try to provide a well-rounded repertoire throughout the season. It's a combination of pops concerts and classical music, and it's really to promote the classical arts and classical music as an art form in the Dover area. So I pick pieces that I feel really belong together. We have a music committee that assists me with that, which comes forward with suggestions and then we choose a repertoire for each concert that complements each piece, and usually there's some kind of theme that's carried through.

Q What's this concert's theme?
A We haven't really had a theme per se, but in year's past we've done concerts which have been primarily Mozart, which we refer to as "Mozart for the Most Part" and concerts like that.

Q There are a number of orchestras/symphonies throughout the state, including the other DSO (Delaware Symphony Orchestra). What makes Dover Symphony Orchestra special?
A What makes us unique is we are here in the capital, so we're the capital's orchestra. We're not in Wilmington, so that means people don't have to travel to Wilmington to hear great music, which is a hike from here. We are your neighborhood orchestra, but it's also the capital's orchestra and something we strive very hard at to make everyone proud of what we're doing. So we work hard at being the capital's orchestra.

Q You've been conducting DSO since 1989. What's kept you coming back all these years?
A The people. I've conducted orchestras from East Coast to West Coast and I always come back to my Dover Symphony because this is like family to me. And it's a three-hour roundtrip for me from Maryland to come here every Monday night and have rehearsal. So that's saying a lot to keep me coming back, and to keep me coming back for that long. And this is an orchestra that gives everything they got for me on Monday nights and in concerts as well.

WHAT Dover Symphony Orchestra concert at 80th Dover Days Festival
WHEN 7 p.m., Saturday, May 4
WHERE Calvary Assembly of God, 1141 E. Lebanon Road, Dover
COST $20 adults; $15 military; free for children under 16 with a paying adult
INFO or call 270-1903