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items tagged with Quad City Symphony

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

Category: Feature Stories

2014-10-01 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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From Dead Ends to a Destination: The Evolution of Jacob Bancks’ “Rock Island Line,” Premiering March 8 and 9 with the Quad City Symphony
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2014-02-20 11:23:18

Jacob Bancks. Photo by Joshua Ford (JoshuaFord.com).

The blast of a train whistle has been transformed in the hands of composer Jacob Bancks – a shrill warning becoming the musical core of a composition that he intends as a greeting to his new community.

Using a “whistle chord” as musical glue and localism as an overriding theme, Bancks combined elements of the Mississippi River and the railroad in a way that is artful, rigorous, and sophisticated. But in creating Rock Island Line – which the Quad City Symphony Orchestra will debut on March 8 and 9 – he also incorporated nods to a local jazz legend and a popular song, playful components that help the work breathe and reach out to the audience.

Yet moving from ideas to a finished composition was not a straight line for the Quad Cities-based composer (who turns 32 on February 21). The effort included derailment and dead ends before finding workable inspiration toward an ultimate destination.

In earlier commissioned works, Bancks tried to find musical and non-musical connections to the organization and community for which he was writing. But this time the commissioning agent was the orchestra where he lives, and Bancks was particularly sensitive about the audience and community for whom this premiere would be presented. “These images and how they work with each other are very important to me, because this is my first piece in my new home and new community where I hope to remain,” he said in August, in his first interview with the River Cities’ Reader. “So, for me, through this piece, I will meet musical people I hope to meet again. And ... this would be a good way to introduce myself to a community I hope to be a part of.”


Read More About From Dead Ends To A Destination: The Evolution Of Jacob Bancks’ “Rock Island Line,” Premiering March 8 And 9 With The Quad City Symphony...


Finding the Big Picture in the Details: The QC Symphony, December 7 at the Adler Theatre
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2013-12-18 16:23:15

Through the thick melodic honey of Russian Romanticism and the ever-changing musical illusions of a contemporary American composition, the Quad City Symphony on December 7 fashioned a successful concert from two divergent approaches to lyricism. Although the symphony occasionally blurred the differences between melodies and their accompaniments, they achieved resplendent moments of uplifting splendor in both pieces.

The program paired Jennifer Higdon’s imaginative, three-movement Violin Concerto – which won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize – with Sergei Rachmaninoff’s profusely tuneful Symphony No. 2. Separated by a century of musical development, these works feature vast differences in compositional technique and tonality: Rachmaninoff worked in the customary symphonic form while Higdon writes improvisationally, and Rachmaninoff used traditional harmonic structure while Higdon employs a variety of tonal systems developed during the 20th Century.

But they are similar in using lyricism or songfulness as the primary means of self-expression. Consequently, in both cases, the artistic challenge for the Quad City Symphony was the same: to emphasize, with dynamics and stylistic nuances, melodic and motivic fragments and differentiate them from background sounds and accompaniment – a task the orchestra and its guest conductor struggled with in the first movement of Rachmaninoff and throughout Higdon.


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