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Piano Mover and Shaker: Quad City Arts Visiting Artist Leon Bates, October 27 at Augustana College PDF Print E-mail
Music - 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
Music - 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
Music - 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
Music - 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
Music - 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.

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