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Unearthing an Old Soul: Anna Ash, December 16 at Rozz-Tox PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 29 November 2012 05:09

Anna Ash

The first impression of Anna Ash’s These Holy Days album is her distinctive, boldly quirky singing – soulful, pliable, and off-center, comfortable in breathy coos and pointed, high-pitched peaks. The title track features a piercing vibrato that’s ethereally visceral, both heavenly and a bit frightening. That’s the kind of voice that sounds like a natural extension of personality honed over a lifetime, an idiosyncratic instrument that nobody ever had the heart to constrain or correct.

But in a phone interview this week, Ash – who will be performing at Rozz-Tox on December 16 and recording a session the next day– revealed that she only discovered this marvel over the past five years, and she’s still exploring it.

“I didn’t really even know what my voice sounded like until I was like 19 or 20 years old,” she said. “ I was very shy about singing as a kid. I was never very good because I was so scared and so nervous.”

Not-So-Silent Nights: Holiday Concerts in the Quad Cities and Surrounding Areas PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Monday, 19 November 2012 06:00

Steven Curtis Chapman in the i wireless Center's 12 Gifts of ChristmasOur area’s roster of holiday-themed concerts, which began with November 17’s annual Holiday Pops at the i wireless Center, will continue at the Moline venue with November 30’s 12 Gifts of Christmas, a New Anthem presentation emceed by Lisa Whelchel of The Facts of Life fame and showcasing performances by, among others, contemporary Christian artists and Grammy Award winners Steven Curtis Chapman and Laura Story.

Those are impressive headliners. But when it comes to gifts of a musical nature, 12 is really low-balling it; the Quad Cities and its neighboring burgs will actually be hosting more than two dozen holiday concerts between November 30 and December 22, among them even more engagements featuring nationally beloved singers and musicians.

A Stylistic Bear Hug for Beethoven and Mozart: The Quad City Symphony Orchestra, November 3 at the Adler Theatre PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Frederick Morden   
Thursday, 15 November 2012 05:30

When the Quad City Symphony unveiled its versions of Mozart and Beethoven at the Adler Theatre on November 3, it stripped away the formalism of the Classical period and replaced it with the sensuality of mid-19th Century Romanticism. That approach by Conductor and Music Director Mark Russell Smith enhanced the literary thread that connected the five movements of Beethoven’s “Pastorale,” and the orchestra’s consistently warm and expressive performance made both composers’ music more satisfying.

Even though Mozart’s Overture to The Magic Flute and Concerto for Clarinet (both composed in 1791) are paramount examples of Classical form, and Beethoven’s 1808 Symphony No. 6 is a harbinger of the early Romantic movement, Smith had the orchestra perform with nuance beyond the scores – applying practices largely developed after these pieces were written.

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.

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