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A Passage to India: Singer/Songwriter Kiran Ahluwalia, November 9 at St. Ambrose University PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Thursday, 01 November 2012 06:00

Kiran AhluwaliaHer first CD, Kashish – Attraction, earned her a Best Global Album nomination at the 2002 Juno Awards, the Canadian equivalent of the Grammys. Her second, 2003’s Beyond Boundaries, received the Juno for Best World Music Album of the Year. Her latest, 2011’s Aam Zameen – Common Ground, made her a two-time Juno winner in that category.

Consequently, the estimable world musician and frequent touring artist Kiran Ahluwalia must be feeling relatively secure about career longevity, yes?

“No,” says the Indo-Canadian singer/songwriter, with a laugh, during a recent phone interview. “Oh, God, no.

“I mean,” she continues, “I released my fifth CD last year, and I’ve been doing this full-time for 12 years now, and I definitely feel like I have enough gigs lined up for the next two years. But there really isn’t any security in my portion of the industry. So you kind of have to have short-term plans – a year down the road, two years maximum. Because after that, who knows what’s going to happen?”

The Quiet Outlier: The Quad City Symphony Performs Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 6,” November 3 and 4 PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Frederick Morden   
Friday, 26 October 2012 05:30

In the middle of the turbulently self-expressive, politically conflicted, structurally groundbreaking nine symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven is a quiet outlier, a revolutionary work whose only discord is a thunderstorm.

It’s hard to believe, but the tumultuous Fifth and the mild-mannered Sixth symphonies were premiered in the same ice-cold Vienna theater on December 22, 1808. Conceptually contrasting pieces, each work taps into a distinctly different aspect of Beethoven’s personality. No. 5 is an emphatic example of how he portrayed his life through music – bitterness with Vienna, romantic failures, increasing deafness, and frustration with the music politics of the aristocracy. But Symphony No. 6 (“Pastorale”) is devoid of this me-against-the-world battle. The conflict is gone because Beethoven had no conflict with nature. No. 6 is simply an observation and organization of what he called “the feelings of nature” put into music, and it enlarged the possibilities for the symphony as a form.

When Maestro Mark Russel Smith cues the Quad City Symphony to begin the “Pastorale” on November 3 and 4, don’t listen for themes of fate, politics, or philosophy; let Beethoven’s retreat into nature be your respite for 40 minutes. He points the way in his musical story by titling each movement so we know exactly what it’s depicting – a first for a large-scale symphony.

Piano Mover and Shaker: Quad City Arts Visiting Artist Leon Bates, October 27 at Augustana College PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Monday, 22 October 2012 10:35

Leon BatesOn any given day, you can find the acclaimed classical pianist Leon Bates headlining one of the world’s most renowned concert halls, or playing alongside one of America’s most prestigious symphony orchestras, or performing and educating as an artist-in-residence – a position he’s currently filling as Quad City Arts’ latest Visiting Artist.

But your best chance of running into Bates – whose public concert for Quad City Arts will be held at Augustana College on October 27 – might actually be at the gym, as he’s no doubt one of the few professional pianists who is also, as we discussed during a recent phone interview, an avid bodybuilder.

A Novelty, but Not a Novelty Act: Jeff Wichmann, October 26 at Rozz-Tox PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 18 October 2012 05:01

Jeff Wichmann

In what is likely a statement of the painfully obvious, Jeff Wichmann said that his new album Ahhhhh!!!!! is “something that, as far as I can tell, no one’s ever created before, which is a koto/trumpet album with a lot of electronic blips and bleeps.”

And that’s not all. “I wanted to create an experimental rock album using the koto and the trumpet, as opposed to recording a koto album” of traditional compositions, Wichmann said in a recent phone interview. “Most koto players just do that. I found that limiting ... .”

Wichmann, a former Quad Citian (and former Reader employee) now based in Chicago, will be headlining the official release show for Ahhhhh!!!!! at Rozz-Tox on October 26, and it’s almost certain to be a unique experience. The trumpeter and koto player will be joined by guitarist Jeff Kmieciak (a bandmate in Tenki, which plans to release its final album next year) and, on at least one song, Konrad (the Quad Cities electronic-music artist whose remix of the title track is included on the new record).

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.

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