Janinah Burnett When soprano Janinah Burnett takes the stage with the Quad City Symphony Orchestra this weekend, she will sing the role of Violetta, a part she first performed five years ago. But it has taken those five years for her to really develop this leading role in La Traviata - one of opera's most famous works.

"When I first learned it, it was about getting the notes," the 28-year-old Burnett said. "And then as I grew into it ... I just got to know her character a little bit more and within myself tried to go on this journey with her. I searched my own life and my own heart for experiences that could help me understand the journey of this character."

As season-ticket sales decline, the Quad City Symphony Orchestra is looking for ways to reach new audiences. This year's season has emphasized collaboration with local arts organizations, and nowhere is this more apparent than in this weekend's performance with Ballet Quad Cities.

This weekend the Quad City Symphony Orchestra is celebrating composers who stood apart, in some way, from the conventions of their time. Although the program does include Beethoven and Strauss, the emphasis is on modern American composers, three of whom are living.

As Music Director and Conductor Donald Schleicher explained, these are (or were) composers "on the cutting edge" who "invented and created and didn't just follow the patterns of their predecessors.

"So often we play music by dead composers," Schleicher said. "Dead composers were once living, so I think it's interesting to investigate and perform music by living composers. Like an artist, composers sometimes become more famous after they die."

the Quad City Symphony led by David Bellugi At this weekend's Quad City Symphony concerts at Augustana College, David Bellugi will be the guest conductor and the soloist. For much of the concert, he'll actually be playing the recorder as he conducts. And that's just one of the elements of this concert that make it unusual.

Chee-Yun When Chee-Yun takes the stage this weekend with the Quad City Symphony Orchestra, she'll be performing a Saint-Saëns violin concerto she first picked up 24 years ago - when she was just nine years old.

But don't think the Korean-born violinist has tired of the piece after all these years, or that she's done exploring the music.

"How much of an expert can you really be on a piece unless you've spent time with the composer or spent your whole life on a piece?" she said in a recent phone interview. "I'm still young and I'm still learning. Great music always gives so much to work on, so much to be fascinated by, so much to discover every time you play. I never get tired of it."

A lot of 14-year-olds pick up an instrument to emulate their idols. It's just not often they choose the harpsichord.

But that's what George Shangrow did, and decades later, he's the director and founder of Orchestra Seattle and the director of the Seattle Conservatory of Music. This weekend he's performing on the piano and harpsichord as one of four musicians in the Black Hawk Chamber Music Festival.

The "Mostly Mozart Festival" celebrates the 250th birthday of the composer with two concerts each at Moline's First Congregational Church (on July 28 and 30) and Iowa City's Congregational Church (July 29 and 31).

Cristina Panfilio and Jody Hovland A theatre company takes a risk when it changes key elements of Shakespeare, as Iowa City's Riverside Theatre has by switching the protagonist in its presentation of The Tempest from Prospero to Prospera. Turning this male character into a female brings an entirely new dynamic to the performance, yet even though this makes for a unique production, it distracts from the tone of Shakespeare's text.

When 8 Bold Souls takes the stage, there's not a guitarist or singer to be found. There is, however, a cellist and a tuba player.

This might not be a typical blues ensemble, but that's the point.

T8 Bold Soulshe Chicago-based octet has been around since 1985, performing original music composed by group director and saxophonist Edward Wilkerson.

The exclusively instrumental ensemble, which includes trumpet, bass, drums, and trombone in addition to the cello, tuba, and sax, strives to resist categorization and stereotyping.

Twelfth Night It's hot. It's muggy. Bugs are everywhere. And in Iowa City, that means it's time for Shakespeare.

Every summer, the Riverside Theatre trades its stage in downtown Iowa City for an outdoor venue in lower City Park, one that was actually modeled after London's Globe Theater. Appropriately enough, the company uses this Shakespeare-inspired space to stage two Shakespearean productions in repertory, and this year's schedule - running through July 9 - alternates between Twelfth Night and The Tempest.

After the most successful nine-month run that Iowa City's Dreamwell Theatre has ever seen, this sm

all company - which has long performed on borrowed stages and only recently secured a space of its own - is homeless once more.