100 Years of the Quad City Symphony Orchestra:
Celebrating the Past, Looking Forward to the Future

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record


IA/IL QUAD-CITIES – The 2014-2015 season marks the 100th year of the Quad City Symphony Orchestra (QCSO) in the Quad Cities area. Over the past century, the QCSO has presented masterpieces both old and new for the enjoyment of music lovers in the Midwest. “In celebrating our 100th Season, we look back on the rich legacy of our past, and also look forward to how we will serve the community in the next 100 years,” said Mark Russell Smith, QCSO Music Director and Conductor. “We thank the people of the Quad Cities area for their sincere ongoing support.”

“We see the 100th Season as a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness as we celebrate this historic milestone,” said Benjamin Loeb, QCSO Executive Director. “During the 100th Season we will present the world premieres of five compositions in the QCSO Masterworks series. Also, the season will end in a one-night-only concert featuring cellist Yo-Yo Ma, a best-selling classical recording artist with more than 75 albums, including 15 Grammy Award-winners.”

According to Loeb, the 100th Season will feature works by three composers from the Quad-Cities and surrounding area. “The Riverfront Pops featured world-premiere music from a local composer in its pre-show,” he said. “Several new arrangements by William Campbell, Composition Professor at St. Ambrose University, were performed by the Quad City Symphony Youth Ensemble.”

The first premiered piece in the Masterworks series is by John Frantzen, originally from Maquoketa, Iowa. “John now lives in Los Angeles, California, and composes for films and documentaries,” Loeb said. “He comes from an artistic family – his sister, Rose Frantzen, is an accomplished artist whose work has appeared in full exhibits at Davenport’s Figge Museum.”

Loeb noted that the season will also include a commissioned work by Jacob Bancks, Assistant Professor of Theory and Composition at Augustana College. Loeb, an accomplished pianist, will perform the work with violinist David Bowlin on the first Signature Series concert October 19.

The Holiday Pops will be conducted by new QCSO Assistant Conductor Benjamin Klemme and will feature the return engagements of the First Presbyterian Church Sanctuary Choir and Quad City Symphony Youth Choir. Cirque de la Symphonie, the group that thrilled QC audiences a few years back with their energetic troupe of aerial flyers, acrobats, contortionists, dancers and more, will be back as well. A new work by composer Gary Fry will receive its world premiere at the Holiday Pops. This year, Holiday Pops will be back at the Adler Theatre in three performances including a Saturday matinee perfect for family members of all ages.

According to Smith, the many premieres in the 100th Season show that the QCSO is deeply invested in perpetuating the classical tradition. “Classical music isn’t meant to be a museum,” he said. “It’s a live, vibrant, creative force. It’s not just about the past: it’s about the present and the future. We enjoy bringing new works to the public’s attention. The composers we are working with all have very different voices, as unique and diverse as the individuals themselves.”

The 100th Season also marks the return of famed pianist Garrick Ohlsson, who last appeared with the QCSO in 1989. Ohlsson is an international grandmaster pianist and the first American to win the International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition. “Ohlsson is a personal favorite of mine,” Loeb said. “He creates incredible emotion without being overly sentimental.”

The highlight of the 100th Season will be a performance by master cellist, Yo-Yo Ma. “He is today’s biggest star in classical music,” Loeb said. “He receives countless requests to perform. We went through seven months of negotiations before he said ‘Yes’ in late 2013. He has worked with me and Mark Russell Smith before, and that helped to secure the engagement.”

Loeb went to work lining up sponsors for the Yo-Yo Ma performance and gained enthusiastic support from the Riverboat Development Authority, Modern Woodmen of America, and John Deere. “We are delighted that Yo-Yo Ma will be coming to the Quad-Cities to share his unique talents,” he said, “and we know most music lovers throughout the area share that sentiment.”

In addition to the Pops Series, Masterworks Series and Signature Series, the 100th Season will also include Youth Concerts, Family Concerts, Side by Side Concerts, and Volunteer Events, as well as such multi-faceted educational programs as youth ensembles and school education engagements. Many other programs are also in place to enhance the public’s enjoyment and enlightenment, including:

• Inside the Music: Conversations with QCSO Music Director Mark Russell Smith on Thursday afternoons at the Hotel Blackhawk before the Masterworks.

• Students@Symphony: Local students are invited to QCSO dress rehearsals and interact with the guest soloists, QCSO musicians and Music Director Mark Russell Smith.

• Concert Conversations: Pre-concert conversations one hour before concert start time, hosted by Kai Swanson of Augustana College.

• Afterglow: A gathering in the lobby of the Hotel Blackhawk after Saturday Masterworks with free hors d’oeuvres, cash bar, and a chance to socialize with the musicians from the concert.

“The QCSO has been a part of this community for a century, and that says a lot,” Smith observed. “It has played an important role in this area since it first began, and will continue to be just as important 100 years from now. The Symphony is part of what makes this an exciting place to live. It adds inherent value to the community.”

For more information on each event, be sure to download the full season brochure at http://www.qcso.org/calendar.html.

Quad City Symphony Orchestra tickets are available at the QCSO box office at 327 Brady St., Davenport. You can also call the QCSO at (563) 322-7276 or visit http://www.qcso.org.