On Sunday, Nov. 25, the Dover Symphony Orchestra held a concert at Dover Downs that was well attended by approximately 700 people. DSO President Nancy Pikulik spoke with the Dover Post about the success of that show, pulling in a younger crowd and what to expect from the symphony next year.

As locals and out-of-towners alike were finishing off Thanksgiving leftovers on Sunday, Nov. 25, the Dover Symphony Orchestra marked the beginning of the Christmas season with a concert featuring a classical take on Christmas tunes at Dover Downs Hotel and Casino.

However, unlike other Symphony performances, DSO's "Ringing in the Holiday Season" was well attended by approximately 700 people, with many telling the symphony's president and personnel manager Nancy Pikulik that they were already looking forward to next year.

Pikulik took time to talk with the Dover Post about the success of the holiday show, pulling in a younger crowd and what the DSO is looking to for 2013.

Q Your most recent concert saw 700 people. How many do you normally see?

A Normally, we see about 400 people so this was a nice attendance boost for us. I'm also in the symphony and I can't tell you how excited I was to see so many smiling faces in the audience.

Q For the people who weren't able to attend, what did they miss?

A For starters, they missed a really good time that was family friendly and full of Christmas spirit. We played a lot of Christmas tunes, of course, but we also had some great audience participation moments, where people were singing along and clapping. I couldn't help myself, my eyes welled up a bit seeing how much people were enjoying it.Then, during intermission and after the show, as I walked around, people came up to me raving about the 'beautiful experience' they were having. One person in particular said to me that 'if this doesn't put you into the spirit of the holidays, nothing would!"

Q So, why do you think this show was so successful?

A Well, for starters, Delaware Hospice and Dover Downs Hotel and Casino, where the concert was performed did an excellent job with advertising and getting the word out. There were actually quite a few out-of-towners there, thanks to some adversting done with the bus tours that come to Dover Downs. But, I also think that people just love holiday music, from hearing old favorites to finding new ones.

Q That's interesting that you saw so many more out-of-towners than locals. Why do you think that is?
A I'm not sure exactly but it does line up with what we learned about the arts community's endeavors earlier this year at the 'Arts Mean Business' presentation. There we learned that most of the dollars spent on entertainment do actually come from the non-residents. And, of course, like other organizations, we'd love to see more locals.

Q Does the DSO have any plans to make that happen?

A Well, first let me say that we're always open to suggestions. Our mission, of course, is to bring classical music to people. But, we're always looking for new ways to engage more people and younger people. Personally, I would love to see more young adults and more kids. But, I understand that those age groups might not see or understand how the music fits in with their lives. But, it does. Classical music shows up in movies and commercials and people know and recognize more than they realize. Most importantly, there's just nothing like a live music experience with the symphony.

Q Why is that?

A Because, when you are new to classical music and you see the symphony live, what you hear makes more sense for later. You recognize the trumpets, the violins and all the pieces and parts that make the number complete. And, that makes it all the more exciting, too, I think.

Q So, what's coming up next for the DSO?

A Well, in February, we will have our spring concert, which will feature light classical music with a romantic theme. Just in time for Valentine's Day, right? The show will feature lots of recognizable songs like "Romeo and Juliet," "Strauss Waltzes," "Ravel's Bolero," and the love scene for "Cinema Paradiso." It won't actually be on Valentine's Day, though. It will actually be two days later on Saturday, Feb. 16 at 7p.m. at Calvery Assembly of God.