The Big Arts Preview: Upcoming Concerts, Ballets, Festivals and More

Grab your calendar and start planning!


Summer may be coming to a close, but don’t fret: There’s no shortage of fun happening over the next several months.


Biggs Museum of American Art

Dover (and elsewhere)

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If you think becoming a member of the Biggs Museum is for the birds, you’re right—put membership on your fall 2018 bucket list so you can spread your wings at Birds and Brews with the Biggs on Sept. 8, a collaboration with the Delaware Nature Society. Birds and Brews begins at Abbott’s Mill Nature Center in Milford for a bird walk, then heads to the Biggs for lunch and brew of your choice—a beer or a cuppa joe—and a curator-led exploration of “Audubon: Then and Now,” the John James Audubon exhibit on view until November. But birds of a feather don’t always flock together—if your idea of fall is more in the mode of big, round, orange things, check out The Great Delaware Pumpkin Carve Festival Oct. 26-27 at the Delaware State Fairgrounds in Harrington. Come for the 50 artistically etched hefty gourds—weighing in at over 150 pounds each—and stay for the hayrides bonfire, seasonal craft beers, wines and ciders, haunted barn tours, attractions and so much more.


Brandywine Baroque

Brandywine Baroque kicks off its season Oct. 12-14 with “The Triumph of Virtue”—a selection of sonatas and cantatas including “Le Triomphe de la Vertu” by Bousset and works for violin by Croft and Rebel, plus guest violinist Heather Miller Lardin will join John Mark Rozendaal in a sonata for viola da gamba and violone by Buxtehude. Dec 7-9, the ensemble revels in “The Delirium of Love” with concertos and cantatas including Handel’s “Il Delirio Amoroso” and Vivaldi’s “Cessate, Omai Cessate” featuring guest vocalist Augustine Mercante. In February, it’s “Two Philosophers Confer on Love and Death,” as Brandywine Baroque meanders through both topics with music by Clerambault, Bousset, Monteclair and more. The concert series concludes in March with “Love in a Village,” in which the ensemble returns to English opera, this time by Thomas Arne.


Brandywine River Museum of Art

Chadds Ford

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While the fine folks at the Brandywine River Museum of Art appreciate sweater weather—the breeze off the Brandywine begs for a snuggly cardigan—they also appreciate the fine art of getting a jump-start on holiday programming. That’s why you’ll find the beautifully curated exhibit “Holidays & Snowdays: Illustrations for 3 Children’s Books” starting Nov.  3 and  running through the new year. The exhibit examines the work of three distinct illustrators and their diverse—culturally and design-wise—palette. Check out the artistry of an unexpected snowstorm, the vibe of the holidays in 1920s Harlem and a celebration of the spirit of Hanukkah. To continue their focus on the visually stunning, check out the in-depth examination of an American icon: painter Winslow Homer, whose work demonstrates the relationship between photography and painting. Explore his body of work, from the 1860s through the 1890s, at the museum Nov. 17-Feb. 17. Of course, the year would be incomplete without a stop aboard “Brandywine Christmas,” the choo-choo-rific seasonal model train celebration. Catch a ride Nov. 23 through the new year. 


Christina Cultural Arts Center


Christina has become known for its focus on intimate live performances by acclaimed jazz and R&B artists. This season is no different, starting off with Grammy-nominated jazz/R&B duo, The Baylor Project on Oct. 7 and continuing Nov. 2 with a concert from five-time Grammy nominee Christian Sands. CCAC celebrates holiday majesty in December with the stunning contemporary dance/music/narration of “Carols in Color” performed by Philly-based Eleone Dance Theatre.


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Clear Space Theatre

​Rehoboth Beach

Anyone who tells you nothing goes on at the beach after Labor Day weekend has never been to Clear Space Theatre—this playbill is packed until the new year. “Rabbit Hole,” winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize, kicks off the fall season with a two-week stint beginning Sept. 21. The drama is an intense examination of what happens after a life-shattering accident pulls at the strings of an already unraveling marriage. Calling all fanboys and fangirls of the dark, delicious “Heathers”—bring your scrunchies and shoulder pads to the theater for the stage version of this high school revenge classic. Veronica Sawyer, we feel you. See it Oct. 19-31. Golden Ticket! Get your Golden Tickets! Cash ‘em in on Willy Wonka weekend Nov. 9-11. The Roald Dahl classic about the wonderfully weird Willy Wonka and his fantasy factory is the perfect antidote to the “I-ran-out-of-Halloween-candy” blues. (P.S.: Now that you spent your fall as a theater geek, stick around to usher in the holiday season with “A Christmas Carol: The Musical,” starting Nov. 23.) 


Delaware Art Museum


Summer’s on its last leg, flip-flops are about to be relegated back to the dark corner of the closet and it’s getting dark before 7—sometimes life is rough, and you need one heck of a distraction. Check out Bang on a Can All-Stars on Oct. 11 at the Delaware Art Museum. Their aggressive musicality and dynamic performance of innovative popular hits explodes in a genre-bending, impassioned concert experience. Not to get all judgy or anything, but Oct. 20 through the new year, the museum hosts the 2018 Juried Craft Exhibition, chosen by Haystack Mountain School of Crafts director and juror Paul Sacaridiz. You’ll find such diverse offerings as embroidered photography (we don’t get how either, but it’s very cool) to hip woodworking. And while we don’t suggest talking politics around the Thanksgiving dinner table, the subject of “Politics and Paint: Barbara Bodichon and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood” might just make you overly chatty. Early Pre-Raphaelite painter and women’s rights campaigner Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon was a woman ahead of her time—who helped send women to college and keep their property, regardless of their marital status. Smash the patriarchy Nov. 3-Feb. 3.


The Delaware Contemporary


This fall will be nothing short of visionary at The Delaware Contemporary. On Sept. 29, stake a primo seat along the runway at the Forged of Nature Fashion Fundraiser. You won’t be able to take your eyes off the models showcasing the work of Shannah Warwick and Ellen Durkan, two innovative designers who blur the line between fashion and wearable expressions of art. On Nov. 17, get savvy with SABA IV and score unique pieces, small-batch style, at the Small Art Buying Adventure. At $25 a pop, the anonymous-until-sold 6×6 treasures are a steal.


Delaware Shakespeare Festival

Wilmington (and beyond)

In 2016, the folks at the Delaware Shakespeare Festival kicked off a professional production of “Pericles” at community centers, homeless shelters, detention facilities and other nontraditional theater locations across the state as part of its mission to expose the arts to the underserved. Guess what? It worked. This year’s installment is “The Merchant of Venice,” the multilayered drama about the corrosive impact of anti-Semitism, which tours Oct. 24-Nov. 18. If you think your crew has squad goals, you have another thing coming—when the masters of macabre get together, it’s an all-time hang. Check out “Shakespeare, Poe & Fiends” for a night of reading from the dark sides Oct. 12-14. The venue is TBD, the chills up and down your arms are not.


Delaware Symphony Orchestra


The musical fall at DSO kicks off Sept. 28 at The Grand with “The American Dream: A Tribute to Leonard Bernstein.” The all-American program gives props to two masterful ballet scores—Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” and Barber’s “Medea’s Meditation and Dance of Vengeance,” joined by Robert Paterson’s colorful and compelling 21st-century portrait of Vermont’s Green Mountains. Acclaimed violinist Jennifer Koh offers an assist on Bernstein’s “Serenade.” On Oct. 23, the Gold Ballroom at the Hotel du Pont hosts an evening with the DSO Winds. On Nov. 9, DSO presents “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity,” with Beethoven’s third symphony, “Eroica,” taking center stage. Pocket this tidbit for your next trivia night and then thank David Amado later—the symphony was originally dedicated to Napoleon before being rededicated to the heroic spirit of the French Revolution. (In today’s parlance, it was a tweet-then-delete type situation.)


Delaware Theatre Company


When you stop in at the Delaware Theatre Company this season, make sure you wish them a happy 40th anniversary before thanking them for a diverse and compelling lineup. Just in time for the gridiron gang to get back together, DTC opens with the world premiere of “Sanctions,” a stage production your husband might actually sign up for. The timely drama inspired by true events centers on a university’s athletic department that is trying to return to the business of running a college football team after its NCAA probation is lifted. But when a new scandal involving a freshman tutor threatens to blitz the entire program, the flag is thrown. Catch the action Sept. 12- 30. “Fully Committed” is next up, Oct.17-Nov. 4. The day-in-the-life production shadows Sam, an out-of-work actor who mans the reservation line at New York City’s buzziest restaurant. And don’t miss the regional premiere of “A Sign of the Times,” set in 1965—in an era fueled by women’s liberation, the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War, one woman marches from middle America to the bright lights of New York City on the journey of a lifetime.


Dover Downs Hotel & Casino


The fall at Dover Downs is pretty stacked. First up, 40-year veterans of the music industry Blue Oyster Cult take the stage Sept. 7 with classic songs like “Don’t Fear the Reaper” and “Burnin’ for You.” That’s a real fine place to start, but country star Sara Evans makes a strong argument, too: The multiplatinum singer and songwriter hits the Rollins Center Oct. 13. It will be our tears instead of “Suds in the Bucket” if she doesn’t play this epic country tune. Get your dancing shoes out for the Glenn Miller Orchestra on Oct. 26—the big noise will cause big moves as you groove down memory lane.


The Grand


Things we love from Spain: paella, Benicio del Toro, Ibiza. Add to the list Eduardo Guerrero, the critically acclaimed flamenco dancer and choreographer, who brings together his eclectic style, skill and passion in “Flamenco Pasion,” a contemporary presentation of the beloved Spanish dance. An elite group of performers—including Guerrero—will wow the crowd at Copeland Hall Oct. 2. Ole! From Spain travel to Memphis and the Mississippi Delta on Sept. 26 with “Take Me to the River,” a live performance based on the award-winning film and album that brought together multiple generations of musicians who reimagined the utopia of racial, gender and generational collaboration of Memphis in its heyday. Check out the Grammy-winning trifecta of William Bell, Bobby Rush and Charlie Musselwhite on stage at Copeland Hall. Nov. 9 at the Baby Grand belongs to Aparna Nancherla, a comedy standout who you might have spied on HBO, Netflix and Comedy Central. A funny woman who makes Amy Schumer crack up? We’re in. Round out your season at The Playhouse with “Cirque Dreams Holidaze” on Nov. 23-25. The incomparable holiday phenomenon features over 300 imaginative costumes, soaring acrobatics, a Vegas-level theatrical production and all-around genuine talent for your whole crew.


First State Ballet Theatre​


Dance your way through fall with the First State Ballet Theatre, starting Oct. 19-21 with the misadventures of Don Quixote and his devoted squire, Sancho Panza, in the classic “Don Quixote.” The fan-favorite Up Front with FSBT, which offers an intimate setting featuring highlights of both classical and contemporary repertoire, kicks off at the Baby Grand on Nov. 16-17. And of course, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without “The Nutcracker.” Catch it Dec. 21-23 at The Grand.


The Candlelight Theatre


You’ll need to get out your passport this season to keep up with The Candlelight Theatre’s globe-trotting lineup. Wake up in “Brigadoon” Sept.15-Oct. 28. Set in the Scottish highlands in a village that awakens once every 100 years, the beloved production has it all: mystery, intrigue and love. Your next stop is Budapest, the setting for a 1930s love story with endearing innocence: Two shop clerks always at odds are unaware that the other is the pen pal with whom they’ve been exchanging love notes. Fall for “She Loves Me” Nov.17-Dec. 23.




If it ain’t broke, why fix it? OperaDelaware brings back a fan favorite this season: Opera Uncorked with Swigg, casual highlight concerts paired with wine tastings. “Mayhem, Madness, Malbec & More” goes down easy Oct. 19-21. On Nov. 11, welcome back mezzo soprano Megan Marino for an intimate recital at the OperaDelaware Studios.


Rehoboth Art League


Art is happening all season long at Rehoboth Art League. Contemporary African-American artist Kyle Hackett presents “New Negation” Sept. 7-Oct.13. Art goes to the dogs with “Animal Farm,” a members’ showcase exhibition Oct. 19-Nov. 25. You might feel overexposed Oct. 19-Nov. 25 when you peruse the moments captured in “Street Photography – Humans in Their Environment,” a Coastal Camera Club exhibition that explores the human condition. Of course, don’t forget the Holiday Fair Nov. 3-4. 


Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival

Rehoboth Beach area

While we can’t give up all the goods quite yet—that is, what independent film gems will light up the marquee in this fall—we can tell you that you must save the dates of Nov. 1-11 for the 2018 Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival. You can see more than 100 fantastic foreign and indie films. Theme to come, so stay tuned. And by the way, if you haven’t been yet, this year marks over 20 years of thriving independent film. That’s worth the price of admission alone, right? 


Rehoboth Jazz Festival

Rehoboth Beach

Did you know the “Greatest Jazz Festival in the World” happens in our little state? It goes down in Rehoboth Beach Oct. 11-14. You’ll find more talent at the Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival than you can shake a trombone at. Various locations close to the ocean host acts like Matt Marshak, Nick Colionne, Incognito and Gerald Albright. 


UD Department of Music


The University of Delaware Department of Music distinguished faculty kick off the fall performance lineup at the Faculty Gala on Sept. 14. The Master Players Concert Series opens on Oct. 7 with Great Musical Families: David Finckel & Wu Han, leading listeners through the extraordinary evolution of classical music. The Anne-Marie McDermott & Friends concert on Nov. 4 features the world premiere of a piano quartet by renowned composer and MacArthur “Genius” Grant winner Bright Sheng. Catch “A Holiday in Greece” with soprano Irini Kyriakidou on Dec. 8.


UD Resident Ensemble Players

“Lettice and Lovage” kicks off the fall season for the university’s Resident Ensemble Players—which turns 10 years this year. The show, on stage Sept. 13-Oct. 7., is a mad-cap tale of unlikely friendship between Lettice, a tour guide at an otherwise boring historical manor who tells tall tales to the tourists and Lotte, the fed-up bureaucrat who has Lettice fired for his, uh, alternative facts. On Sept. 20-Oct.7, spend a whiskey-soaked Christmas Eve in Dublin with Sharky and his crew who gather for a night of poker and companionship in “The Seafarer. That is, until a mysterious stranger wants in on the game. “Woman in Mind” brings the domestic madness with a black comedy about Susan, locked in a loveless marriage, with a miserable sister-in-law and a son who disowned her. Mid-life crisis, anyone? After an accident, though, her life is changed, and she can’t decide which grass is greener. See it Nov. 8-Dec 2.




Listen. There’s no excuse not to step into the imaginative and entertaining world of garden follies at Winterthur: It’s only on display now until early 2020! Explore a fantastic display of contemporary and historic architectural features—from a Gothic-inspired tower to American summerhouses to a faerie cottage and more—all set within the majestic beauty of Henry Francis du Pont’s 60-acre garden. This irresistible exhibition, featuring 13 unique vignettes, offers a one-of-a-kind outdoor experience with a twist of fun. Starting Oct. 5, unspool “The Thread of History,” an exhibition that explores embroidery as historical documents that can deepen our understanding of women’s lives. Who thought needlework could provide so much context? And mark your calendar now for the March 20 opening of “Costuming The Crown,” which will feature more than 40—40!—iconic costumes from the Emmy Award-winning Netflix series. Not included in the price of admission: instructions on an epic Princess Margaret bender. You can’t buy that talent.


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