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items tagged with Quad City Symphony Orchestra

Turning an Appetizer Into a Meal: The Quad City Symphony, December 1 at the Adler Theatre
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2012-12-12 15:19:09

It should have been only a sampling – a taste of love, lust, delusions of grandeur, and jocular deception – but the Quad City Symphony on December 1 delivered a fast-paced, funny, and fully satisfying performance of Act III of Guiseppe Verdi’s opera Falstaff.

Last season, the Quad City Symphony’s Der Rosenkavalier excerpt was plagued by balance problems between the singers and orchestra and by dramatic incoherence – with neither a translation of the German libretto nor an explanation of the plot.

This year, Music Director and Conductor Mark Russell Smith got it right logistically, educationally, and musically. Smith moved the instrumentalists upstage, opening up a large area in front of the orchestra that put the principal singers closer to the audience. The cast members had more room to move and act, sharpening the differences between their characters.

Even though the 30-plus members of Jon Hurty’s Quad City Choral Arts sat behind the orchestra, far from the dramatic action, the location made their sound appropriately ethereal when they took on the roles of sprites, nymphs, spirits, and ghostly apparitions.

The changes of staging also improved the balance between the singers and the orchestra. From its upstage position, the orchestra was easily heard yet never overwhelmed the singers.


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A Stylistic Bear Hug for Beethoven and Mozart: The Quad City Symphony Orchestra, November 3 at the Adler Theatre
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2012-11-15 11:30:48

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.


Read More About A Stylistic Bear Hug For Beethoven And Mozart: The Quad City Symphony Orchestra, November 3 At The Adler Theatre...


The Quiet Outlier: The Quad City Symphony Performs Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 6,” November 3 and 4
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2012-10-26 11:30:04

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.


Read More About The Quiet Outlier: The Quad City Symphony Performs Beethoven’S “Symphony No. 6,” November 3 And 4...


Bohemian Rhapsody: The Quad City Symphony, October 6 at the Adler Theatre
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2012-10-17 13:54:57

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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Into a Deep but Narrow Channel: The Quad City Symphony’s 2012-13 Masterworks Series
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2012-09-25 11:09:20

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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