Conductor Prepares Hendricks Symphonic Orchestra for New Season

Benjamin G. Del Vecchio

Photo courtesy Benjamin Del Vecchio
(posted Sept 22)

Hendricks Symphonic Orchestra conductor Benjamin G. Del Vecchio didn't expect to have 150 participants in the choir and orchestra when they organized the program last year.

The idea started when Del Vecchio's friends suggested forming a choir, so he supplemented the discussion with the need to create an orchestra. They thought 30 to 40 members seemed like a realistic number during the brainstorming session.

"I couldn't believe it. They just kept coming," he said, in reference to the 240 people that auditioned. The auditions lasted for about six weeks. This was not the first time Del Vecchio has started an orchestra, he was instrumental in starting the Kokomo Symphonic Orchestra and Marion Philharmonic Orchestra.

The orchestra and choir are currently funded by the Hendricks Community Foundation and the Town of Avon. The town is using the orchestra as a quality of life issue to entice employers and employees to live in Avon. He said a lady came up to him after a concert to say she could not believe she could get this kind of quality music in Avon. The concerts are at Avon Middle School.

The orchestra hopes to achieve a season ticket sales goal of $20,000. He said it is expensive to rent a music score. "It can cost $3,000 just to rent," he said. This year they plan to have a seven concert series.

He described some of the players and their dedication for the volunteer positions. Del Vecchio is the only paid employee.

Del Vecchio marveled over the youth's talents. He said there are several home schooled students playing in the orchestra and a student as young as the sixth grade is in the choir. The oldest choir member is 84. He highlighted a particular concert coming up on October 31 when the Avon and Brownsburg students will play with the orchestra in performing "Humor and Horror".

Orchestra and choir members come from all parts of Indiana. Del Vecchio resides on the Westside, along with six others around the Speedway area. He said one girl drives from Kingman, Indiana to play in the Friday and Sunday concerts. Others come from Greenwood, Greenfield and Greencastle. This year auditions were limited to certain sections, but in 2009 all members will go through auditions to be reseated in the orchestra.

A conductor must have a leadership personality. He said that at the age of 14 he was searching for a career path. Del Vecchio did not know what he wanted to do, but he knew that he could not live without music because of his family's affinity for music.

He talked about his grandfather's 78 record opera music collection that he still has. He said that his father spent $1.50 each for a 23 record collection in 1910. His grandfather only made $5.00 a week, meaning he was spending six to seven times his weekly income for music. His grandfather would play his opera records every Sunday afternoon for 90 minutes. Del Vecchio grew up playing the piano, trombone and violin, but now as a conductor he confessed that it has been years since he has played. He left Boston in the 1970s to study music at IU.

It was Del Vecchio's desire to know each band member's music piece that led him to becoming a conductor. He was never satisfied with playing just his section of a music score. He was always curious to see the entire music score. He said that he would look over other students' shoulders to read their section of the music. "It drove me crazy just to know one part," he said.