An accidental discovery of a local composer’s music at Winterthur leads to a world premiere for The Music School of Delaware’s Wilmington Community Orchestra this Sunday, November 9, at 3 p.m. when the ensemble opens its 2014-2015 season.
Ouverture Dramatique, a piece by Ruth Wales du Pont, will open the program, under the direction of guest conductor Brian Cox, who arranged the piece. Mr. Cox is the first of four guest musicians to take a turn with the baton as the Wilmington Community Orchestra searches for a new conductor.
A lifelong Delaware resident, Mr. Cox is currently the Salesianum School music director and has done extensive research on music from the state of Delaware. He has performed, lectured on and written articles about works spanning 250 years, all from Delaware. It was during his research of Alfred I. du Pont almost 20 years ago that led to an interesting discovery at Winterthur where there was a drawer full of music.
Expecting it to be music by Alfred, he discovered sketches, a one-act opera, art songs, some chamber music and piano pieces – all by Ruth Wales du Pont.
“I essentially stumbled across her music,” he said, “and it was all very serious music.”
When he contacted the du Pont family, Mr. Cox said her daughters did not know their mother had been a composer. She had studied at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore and before that studied piano, harmony and composition. He said they recalled her playing parlor pieces and did not recall her ever performing anything she had composed.
“Ouverture Dramatique was composed during her Peabody years, and was written in piano score,” said Cox, “but it appears to be a sketch for orchestration, which she never got to. There are notes that indicate she was going to orchestrate it. I’ve orchestrated it in the style of the period, from the [early 20th century.]”
The piece was performed in a private concert in 1995 but the orchestral version will receive its world premiere by the Wilmington Community Orchestra. Other selections on the program include Arthur Honegger’s Pastorale d’été, Cécile Chaminade’s Concertino pour Flute, Op. 107 and Howard Hanson’s Symphony No. 2 in D-flat Major, Op. 30 “Romantic”. The orchestra will be joined by soloist Dr. Lynne Cooksey, flute, artist faculty with distinction at the Music School.
The Music School of Delaware, founded in 1924, is the only statewide, accredited, community music school in the nation, serving residents of Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland. A community resource open to the public, the Music School employs nearly 100 expert educators and offers standard-setting instructional programs for people of all ages and levels. In addition, over 75 public performances each year, many of them free, offer opportunities to enjoy outstanding music in a variety of styles and genres. A financial assistance program is available to ensure music excellence for everyone. For more information, visit www.musicschoolofdelaware.org.