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items tagged with Mark Russell Smith

Illuminating a Musical Masterpiece: The Quad City Symphony, December 6 at the Adler Theatre
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2014-12-17 19:37:38

In its December 6 concert, the Quad City Symphony checked off three important boxes – things every orchestra should strive for.

It included contemporary American music, in this case a world premiere from a local composer in University of Iowa professor David Gompper’s impenetrably obscure Sunburst.

It illustrated the role of the sensitive accompanist, showcasing six of the symphony’s own members in three pieces.

And finally and most impressively, it ignited and illuminated a musical masterpiece with sizzling passion and a refined artistic vision: The cohesive and insightful artistic ideas of Music Director and Conductor Mark Russell Smith joined with the orchestra’s unrestrained musical abandonment in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s masterful Symphony No. 40.


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A Helping Hand Through Difficult Music: The Quad City Symphony, November 1 at the Adler Theatre
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2014-11-07 20:36:55

With the premiere of a nebulous, esoteric piece and a dark, densely sobering Brahms concerto behind him, Music Director and Conductor Mark Russell Smith picked up the microphone to address the audience before the second half of the Quad City Symphony’s November 1 concert at the Adler.

The audience was likely looking for some emotional relief, but Tchaikovsky’s Pathetique symphony loomed, with its morose “Finale” – creating the potential for a depressing albeit well-performed concert.

Smith set an optimistic tone. He called the Pathetique “Tchaikovsky’s greatest symphony” – pointing out the “life lived” through this music and focusing attention on its innovations.

His words were the right message at the right time. In framing the concert’s centerpiece, Smith helped pull the audience through the performance, allowing it to appreciate the trio of challenging pieces without getting sucked under by bleakness.


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A Dream Season: The Quad City Symphony Smartly Marks Its Centennial
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2014-09-30 17:19:27

Mark Russell Smith

Looking despondent, the young conductor was comforted by his mentor. “Think of it this way, my son,” the old maestro began. “If everyone was equally dissatisfied with your repertoire, at least you gave them a balanced season.”

It’s an old joke, but it sarcastically underscores the futility of finding music that will satisfy everyone.

But, in the Quad City Symphony’s 100th season, Music Director and Conductor Mark Russell Smith has fashioned a carefully considered, diversely adventuresome musical celebration that includes a balanced sampling of masterpieces, premieres of six new commissioned works, and guest soloists ranging from world-class recording artists to members of the orchestra.

It’s a dream season that lies ahead, but it’s been an evolutionary process for Smith to get there.


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Managing Mahler Magnificently: The Quad City Symphony, April 5 at the Adler Theatre
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2014-04-11 15:32:13

From an Adler Theatre stage filled with more than 200 musicians, the Quad City Symphony forcefully premiered Gustav Mahler’s monumental Symphony No. 3 on April 5. Moving from the dissonance of uncertainty to the transcendental climatic moments of harmonic resolution, the concert was abundant in gravitas, contrasts, and drama that revealed a thorough artistic vision from Music Director and Conductor Mark Russell Smith and included a valuable collaborative process with other area musical organizations.


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A Fine “Line” Over Rough Spots: The QC Symphony, March 8 at the Adler Theatre
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2014-03-18 14:04:14

The Quad City Symphony’s March 8 concert featured symphonies from a pair of big names, but the shortest piece on the program – the world premiere of local composer Jacob Bancks’ Rock Island Line – stole the show.

The broad, moving lyricism of Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 illustrated what the orchestra does well, while Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 revealed the Quad City Symphony’s continuing struggle with rhythmic precision.

Yet they were eclipsed by the triumphant debut that opened the concert. Rock Island Line was the highlight of the evening at the Adler Theatre – an energized, complex, and entertaining performance that brought Bancks’ vivid piece to life in ways I wasn’t expecting.


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