Strings that Sing

Don’t miss Serafin String Quartet at the 2011 Delaware Chamber Music Festival on June 17. The concert, “French Evolution,” will feature works by French composers, including Ravel’s String Quartet, Chausson’s “Concert” for solo violin and piano with string quartet, and Couperin’s “Pieces en Concert” for solo cello and string quartet.

The regular Serafin lineup is Kate Ransom, violin; Timothy Schwarz, violin; Molly Carr, viola; and Lawrence Stomberg, cello. For the festival, they will also perform with Barbara Govatos, music director for the Delaware Chamber Music Festival and member of the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra, as well as pianist Marcantonio Barone and cellist Clancy Newman.

Every year the Delaware Chamber Music Festival features amazing performances by the area’s best chamber players, musicians who have been heard around the world, Serafin among them. The quartet debuted to a sellout crowd at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in 2004. In September Centaur Records released Serafin String Quartet’s acclaimed debut CD. Naxos will release the next SSQ recording in 2012, which features early works of Pulitzer Prize winning composer, Jennifer Higdon. Recording is scheduled for January.

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Don’t miss this opportunity to see them up close and personal. The performance will be at The Music School of Delaware, 4101 Washington St., Wilmington, at 7:30 p.m. Purchase tickets at

Star Studded

Twenty-five schools, nearly 70 student actors, and one big show: Delaware All-State Theatre stages “Ragtime” at the DuPont Theatre over two weekends beginning Friday, June 17.

“I tell them, ‘I am the most demanding director you will ever work with,’” says DAST founder and director Jeffrey Santoro (with a little chuckle). “I tell them we’ll have to work hard and smartly to achieve what I want to achieve.”

And what he wants to achieve is absolute veracity in performance. If your lot is to play a 50-year-old Eastern European man, you’d better be convincing—especially if you’re only 15 years old.

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Delaware All-State Theatre is a sort of all-star team of young thespians. The group produces one musical a year at DuPont Theatre in Wilmington. “Ragtime” conveys the experience of African-Americans, Eastern European immigrants and established white Anglo-Saxons in New York at the turn of the 20th century, the characters intersect occasionally with historical personages such as Harry Houdini, J.P. Morgan and Henry Ford. “It’s a magical history for those who have forgotten,” Santoro says. “There are fantastic, amazing story lines.”
In addition to being a personal favorite, “Ragtime” requires Santoro to cast young actors in challenging roles.

“I love the fact that there is a large, diverse group of characters,” he says. “There are more opportunities for kids to create accents and emotions. I want to take them out of their comfort zone of playing a teen in ‘Hairspray’ or in ‘Grease.’”

While teaching drama at Sanford School in 2000, Santoro started attending plays at other schools. He saw a lot of talent. “I thought, If I could pick only the very best, we could put on a show that would be spectacular.”

So he did. In 2008 Delaware All-State Theatre staged “Les Miserables,” followed by “West Side Story” in 2009 and “Urinetown: The Musical” last year. Santoro, a self-confessed micro-manager, handpicked the cast members for each. Many of the actors have professional aspirations, or they want to attend prestigious theater programs at Columbia University, NYU and the Boston Conservatory.

At the DuPont, Santoro has even made a bit of history. Though many major Broadway shows have played there during its 100-plus years, it had never produced a show until “Les Mis.” And despite costing a pretty penny to work in a union shop (costs controlled with the help of 200 volunteers), DAST serves its young members for free. Santoro hopes to start similar programs in other states.

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As for “Ragtime,” he says, there is one overriding goal.
“I tell the kids they are there for only one reason: to entertain,” Santoro says. “I want the audience to have that Broadway experience. I want people to forget that these are 14-, 15-, 16-year-olds playing very adult roles and dealing with very adult themes. If we do that, I think we’ll have achieved greatness.”

For tickets and information, visit or call the box office at 656-4401. You call also visit for more.

Be Nice to Dad

If you missed the chance to take Mom to Brandywine River Museum on Mother’s Day, don’t forget about dear old Dad. Admission is free in the morning—perfect time for brunch in the café—and there’s a new exhibition to see, “Farm Work” by Jamie Wyeth. For more information, call (610) 388-2700 or visit


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