Monday, October 30 2023 10:20

Making Music in the Brandywine Valley

Written by Elizabeth Hughes

Explore our region's music scene this season and beyond

West Chester University Wind Symphony. Photo: Skyler Cole

The Brandywine Valley is known for charming towns, pastoral countryside and scenic vistas. It’s also home to a vibrant arts scene, including a very busy music community. From student groups to professional orchestras, the performing arts are thriving in our area.

As the end of the year approaches, many local ensembles are gearing up for fall and holiday concerts, making it the perfect time to discover a new favorite. Here are just a few of the talented groups — symphony and pops orchestras, as well as early music ensembles — bringing music to the region, along with their upcoming performances.

Symphony and Pops Orchestras

The Brandywine Valley has a number of talented orchestras, both symphonies and pops. While symphony orchestras tend to focus on classical music, pops orchestras have a wider repertoire, including popular music and show tunes. Here’s what’s new with some of our local orchestras.

Chester County Pops Orchestra

Comprised of 65 musicians from across the county, the Chester County Pops Orchestra has brought a pops, jazz and light-classic repertoire to southeastern Pennsylvania since 2005. They have several performances throughout the year, including a patriotic concert in July and the fan-favorite Halloween Series.

The Chesco Pops are getting ready for two holiday concerts in December. The first show is at First Presbyterian Church of West Chester on December 8, and the second show on December 10 is at Phoenixville Area Middle School, where guests are asked to donate nonperishable food. Both performances include a variety of old and new holiday favorites, featured vocalists and a special appearance by Santa Claus.

For tickets and more performances, visit

Delaware Symphony Orchestra

The Delaware Symphony Orchestra has a long and storied history, dating back to the early 19th century when it was founded as Alfred I. du Pont’s Tankopanicum Orchestra (meaning “the rushing waters of the Brandywine River”). Delaware’s only professional orchestra brings symphonic music to thousands with Classics and Chamber Series performances, as well as special family-friendly performances and community outreach programs.

The DSO’s 118th season features a diverse lineup of artists and repertoire that audiences of all ages can enjoy. Next up in the Classics Series (featuring the full orchestra) is “¡Música Bravo!,” featuring Argentinian-Italian conductor Michelle Di Russo. This concert includes Spanish folk melodies and works by Hispanic composers and is performed at Wilmington’s Grand Opera House (November 10) and Cape Henlopen High School in Lewes (November 12).

Then get into the festive spirit with “Holidays at the Hotel,” December 12 at the Hotel Du Pont’s Gold Ballroom. Part of the Chamber Series, this intimate performance by a smaller ensemble features Bach’s Brandenberg Concerto No. 3 and Aria: Grosse Herr as well as Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings. Their season continues through April.

For tickets and more performances, visit

Kennett Symphony

Established in 1940, the Kennett Symphony is the only professional symphony orchestra in Chester County. It’s comprised of nearly 70 talented musicians from across the Mid-Atlantic, including Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New York and New Jersey. In addition to traditional concerts, the Kennett Symphony engages young musicians in their educational programming, including young artists competitions, the Children’s Chorus (fall concert on November 18 at West Chester University) and “instrument zoos” — a hands-on experience for kids to learn about different instruments.

On November 5, the Kennett Symphony invites you to a “Reimagined Concert Experience.” Seated in the round at Mendenhall Inn’s Grand Ballroom, with food and drink available, you’ll hear the orchestra perform Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 (Pastoral) in a casual, friendly setting. Their 2023–24 season continues into the New Year with “Cultural Resonance,” March 17 at WCU’s Madeleine Wing Adler Theatre. Second in their Masterworks series, the concert features Piano Concerto in One Movement by composer Florence B. Price, the first African American woman to have a symphonic work performed by a national orchestra, with piano soloist Maxim Lando.

Later, look forward to their Family Concert (April 14) and performances at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library (May 11) and Longwood Gardens (June 23).

For tickets and more performances, visit

Early Music Ensembles

In addition to resident orchestras, our region is home to premier early music ensembles. These groups specialize in European classical music from the Baroque era and earlier, with a focus on historically informed performances — meaning they try to recreate the music as accurately as possible for the historic period.

Brandywine Baroque

Based in Delaware, Brandywine Baroque offers chamber music concerts on period instruments, often featuring national and international guest performers. They’re known to perform rare and previously unpublished manuscripts, playing music that would be otherwise unheard by modern audiences.

In November, Brandywine Baroque performs “Music for a While,” a program of 17th-century English music by a consort of five viols (an early member of the violin family, played upright). See them at The Barn at Flintwoods in Wilmington (November 10 and 12) or the Lutheran Church of Our Savior in Rehoboth Beach (November 11). The Sunday matinee on November 12 will be followed by a recital from acclaimed harpsichordist Jean Rondeau.

For tickets and more performances, visit


This year, VoxAmaDeus celebrates its 37th concert season. Founded in 1987 by Romanian-born, Julliard-trained maestro Dr. Valentin Radu, this talented ensemble specializes in historically informed performances of High Renaissance, Baroque and Classical period music for both voice and instruments. Vox musicians perform on authentic instruments, including actual ancient instruments as well as highly accurate reproductions of Baroque instruments.

On November 17, VoxAmaDeus heads to the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia for a program titled “Brahms Requiem,” featuring works from Johannes Brahms. Next up is their rendition of Handel’s Messiah, a holiday tradition for over three decades, this year at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Chestnut Hill (December 1), Daylesford Abbey in Paoli (December 3), St. Mark’s Church in Philadelphia (December 15) and St. Katharine of Siena Church in Wayne (December 17).

For more holiday magic, the Vox Renaissance Consort (voices and period instruments) performs their annual “Renaissance Noël” concert on December 9 at the Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in Chestnut Hill and on December 10 at Bryn Mawr College’s Great Hall.

For tickets and more performances, visit

School and University Groups

Several of our local educational institutions host performances that are open to the public. Featuring both professional and student musicians, these concerts are a great way to support arts education in our area.

The Music School of Delaware

Serving residents of Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland, The Music School of Delaware is the only statewide, accredited community music school in the country. Between the Wilmington and Milford branches, the school hosts over a hundred public performances a year.

On November 12, the Wilmington Community Orchestra performs “An Afternoon at the Opera,” featuring excerpts from operas including Rossini’s Barber of Seville and Bizet’s Carmen. The concert will be held at the school’s Wilmington Concert Hall and livestreamed.

There are also two Faculty & Friends concerts this month — chamber music performances by faculty artists, alumni and guest musicians — “Serafin and Friends” on the 8th at the Wilmington Concert Hall and “The Grandeur of the Baroque” on the 17th at Avenue United Methodist Church in Milford.

Next month, the Delaware Youth Symphony Orchestra performs on December 9 at the Wilmington Concert Hall (also livestreamed).

For tickets and more performances, visit

West Chester University’s Wells School of Music

West Chester University’s renowned Wells School of Music holds over 200 concerts annually, from faculty and student recitals to large ensemble performances to accomplished visiting guest artists. Plus, most concerts are free to the public.

November 18 marks the Symphony Orchestra’s holiday concert, “’Tis the Season(s).” The orchestra and guest violin soloist, Robyn Bollinger, perform Astor Piazolla’s The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 1 in G Minor, “Winter Dreams,” Op. 13.

West Chester University’s Holiday Program. Photo: Rob Keller

And on the 19th, the Wind Symphony and Concert Band combine for a special performance. The Concert Band celebrates the 100th anniversary of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Folk Song Suite, and the Wind Symphony features this year’s Wind Symphony Concerto Competition winner as well as Alfred Reed’s iconic Russian Christmas Music.

Return on December 9 for the 102nd annual Holiday Program. A staple of the WCU holiday season and community event since 1921, this concert highlights the Symphony Orchestra, combined choirs and Criterions jazz ensemble, featuring Monteverdi’s “Beatis vir.”

As a musical bonus, there are three more chances to see the Incomparable Golden Rams Marching Band before they head to Pasadena, California for the Rose Parade. See them at home football games on November 4 and 11, or make the trek to Warwick High School in Lititz for the Cavalcade of Bands Championships on November 4.

For tickets and more performances, visit

Even More Concerts

There are many more ensembles that call the Brandywine Valley home. Mark your calendar for more music.

Immaculata Symphony Fall Concert — “Magical Stories.” November 4, 7:30 p.m. Alumnae Hall, Immaculata University.

Chester County Concert Band Fall Concert. November 5, 2:30 p.m. Fugett Middle School, West Chester.

Main Line Symphony Orchestra Fall Concert. November 17, 8 p.m. Valley Forge Middle School, Wayne.

Rose Tree Pops Concert. November 19, 3 p.m. Delaware County Christian School, Newtown Square.

Delaware County Symphony — Aus Deutschland. December 3, 3 p.m. Meagher Theatre, Neumann University.

Immaculata Symphony Christmas Concert — “The Holly and the Ivy.” December 3, 3 p.m. Alumnae Hall, Immaculata University.


The local music scene is one of the many things that make County Lines country special — especially during the holiday season. With performance venues spanning the region, it’s likely there’s a performance or two near you. We hope you enjoy local music and support the arts, all year round.