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Bohemian Rhapsody: The Quad City Symphony, October 6 at the Adler Theatre PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Frederick Morden   
Wednesday, 17 October 2012 07:54

It was standard repertoire in the expected order, but the performance that Music Director and Conductor Mark Russell Smith and the orchestra gave at the opening of the Quad City Symphony’s 98th Masterworks Series on October 6 was anything but typical because of the thorough, culturally sensitive thinking behind the showcase piece.

Richard Wagner’s youthful Overture to Rienzi and Max Bruch’s lyric Violin Concerto No. 1 were executed consistent with German performance practices, largely confined to the composer’s instructions in the score. But Smith created a sharp contrast of musical styles to the concert’s first two pieces with “country kid” Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8. Instead of the typical literal interpretation of the score, he transformed it through unwritten, more-expressive Bohemian playing techniques, creating a performance that felt authentic – similar to what audiences might have heard in its Dvořák-conducted 1890 debut in Prague.

The Stooges Cut with Joy Division: The Swayback, October 13 at RIBCO PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Friday, 28 September 2012 05:44

The Swayback

There’s something strange about the Colorado-based band The Swayback.

It’s not that the quartet – which will perform at RIBCO on October 13 – does anything particularly unusual or fresh with its music. It’s that with a basic guitar, bass, drum, and vocal foundation and accessible songs, the band has a clear, distinctive, and authoritative voice. Through conviction, chops, and polish, the Swayback enlivens modern-, classic-, and hard-rock formulas – and influences and references – without really altering them. It’s workmanlike in the best sense.

Into a Deep but Narrow Channel: The Quad City Symphony’s 2012-13 Masterworks Series PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Frederick Morden   
Tuesday, 25 September 2012 05:09

The Quad City Symphony next month will launch a 2012-13 Masterworks Series that takes a step back from last year’s ambitious, adventurous, and modern programming and instead plunges into the deep end of 19th Century Romanticism.

Gone is the wide-ranging repertoire that musically delineated the four main historical style periods spanning 300 years, from early-18th Century Vivaldi to a world premiere by local composer William Campbell. Gone are the global concept of Britten’s War Requiem, the eclectic contrasts of Modernism, and the contrapuntal complexity of the Baroque. And, by focusing on swing music for the February Masterworks concert, the symphony has effectively eliminated one of its season’s six primary showcases for classical music.

Open to Discovery: Plume Giant, September 21 at Rozz-Tox PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Wednesday, 12 September 2012 05:11

Plume Giant

When I spoke by phone with Plume Giant’s Nolan Green last week, the interview was scheduled for 10 a.m. in New York, where the folk-ish trio is based. I can’t remember the last morning interview I had with a pop, rock, or indie musician, as those breeds tend to shy away from morning engagements. So what self-respecting musician is up at that hour?

“I’m ... currently booking a release tour and working like crazy on the PR for it,” Green said. “I was actually already at a different meeting this morning, at 8 a.m.”

This detail is not necessarily important or telling, but it illustrates that these May graduates from Yale are actively charting their course, including setting specific goals for sales. So while you probably haven’t heard of the band – unless you attended its December show at Rozz-Tox, to which they’ll be returning on September 21 – its members are working to change that.

Setting the Scene: “Hello Quad Cities – Volume 1” PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Wednesday, 29 August 2012 08:34

The first thing to stress about Hello Quad Cities – Volume 1 is that as compilations go, it’s strong from front to back and varied without feeling scattershot. The challenging format tends to result in well-intentioned hodgepodges of second-rate leftovers, but the tracks here – from 12 area bands – are all exclusive, and most were written specifically for the compilation. More importantly, while you might not find all of them to your liking, there isn’t a weak link.

The second thing to emphasize is that if you’re curious about the project, you shouldn’t dawdle. The release is available only on vinyl, and a mere 350 copies were pressed. (Each album includes a download code, but there will be no separate digital or CD release.) And they’ll only be sold at a pair of record-release shows, by the featured bands, and at Ragged Records.

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