“A Star Returns” to Open QC Symphony’s Signature Series

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

IA/IL QUAD-CITIES – The Signature Series of the Quad City Symphony Orchestra (QCSO) presents small ensembles composed of visiting artists and select orchestra members. The first Signature Series performance in the QCSO’s 100th Season will be “A Star Returns,” featuring violinist David Bowlin, a native of the Quad-Cities whose performances have received rave reviews nationwide. He will share the stage with Benjamin Loeb, who, in addition to being QCSO Executive Director, is also a highly accomplished concert pianist.

“A Star Returns” will be held 3 p.m. Sunday, October 19, at Augustana College’s Wallenberg Hall, 3520 7th Ave., Rock Island, IL. These performances are rebroadcast on WVIK, 90.3 FM, on the following Sunday evenings at 7 p.m. The Signature Series is a collaboration between the QCSO, WVIK, and Augustana College.

Under the artistic direction of Concertmaster Naha Greenholtz, “A Star Returns” will showcase the music of composers Edvard Grieg, Jan Ladislav Dussek, and Johann Sebastian Bach, as well as a world premiere composition, “Five Pieces for Violin and Piano,” by Quad-Cities composer Jacob Bancks.

“With Masterworks I, you saw the Quad City Symphony Orchestra at its biggest and most spectacular,” said Mark Russell Smith, Music Director and Conductor for the QCSO. “With the Signature Series, you can now experience it in an up-close and personal way. Chamber music is an equally enriching and enjoyable cultural experience that is part of our diverse array of offerings.”

“Ben Loeb is not only our Executive Director, but also a world-class pianist who has collaborated with some of the most respected chamber musicians in America,” said Greenholtz. “David Bowlin, who was a star grad student when I was just a freshman at Juilliard, is one of the finest violinists and teachers of our generation. Plus, he grew up in the Quad-Cities so he is very much a part of our musical family here in town. It will be a real treat for our patrons to hear these two wonderful artists.”

About Bowlin and Loeb

A native of the Quad-Cities, violinist David Bowlin has performed recitals and concertos across the United States. “David Bowlin is originally from Moline,” Loeb said. “He started his musical career in our area and has gone on to national prominence. He is our star who has returned.”

At age 36, Bowlin has already been a professional violinist for 18 years – half of his life. He first heard violin music in church at age 4, and started lessons at age 6. In high school, he was a member of the Quad Cities Youth Symphony from his sophomore through senior years, and also a member of the QCSO in his junior and senior years. In college, he studied with famed violin and viola instructors Roland and Almita Vamos. His performances have received critical acclaim from the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, and many more.

In 2007, Bowlin joined the violin faculty of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, having previously taught at the Juilliard School. He is a founding member of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), which tours in the United States and abroad. He has extensive recording credits with the Bridge, Naxos, New Focus, Arsis, and Mode labels. He is also the artistic director of Chamber Music Quad-Cities, an organization that brings chamber music performances to eastern Iowa and western Illinois.

“A big part of what I do is chamber music, and in that role, I am so honored to be a part of the 100th Season of the QCSO,” Bowlin said. “It is such a remarkable group of exceptional quality. They have always been welcoming and supportive.”

Benjamin Loeb, a native Texan, is an accomplished conductor, accompanist, soloist, arranger, educator, and administrator. He grew up in Dallas, Texas, and started playing piano when he was 18 months old. Formal lessons began at age five. Over the years, his concerts have taken him around to world to major venues and on radio and TV in New York City, San Francisco, Dallas, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Berlin, Seoul, Shanghai, Wuhan, Guangzhou, Panama City, Helsinki, St. Petersburg and tours across America.

Loeb has served as both the Executive Director of the Greater Bridgeport Symphony and the Music Director of the 2011 New Hampshire Music Festival. He has also served as Director of Orchestras at the Music Institute of Chicago. He has done many recordings with the Naxos label, including collaborations with violinists and a solo recording of works by Scott Joplin. His next recording will be a volume of opera fantasies and transcriptions.

“My top priority is the ongoing success of the QCSO,” Loeb said. “It is my goal to use my skills as a pianist and longtime member of the national music community to meet the needs of the Symphony and Quad-Cities community whenever possible.”

Five Pieces for Violin and Piano

Originally from Fairmont, Minnesota, composer Jacob Bancks moved to the Quad-Cities three years ago and teaches Music Theory and Music Composition at Augustana College. “I love working with the composer who live in our area,” Loeb said. “Jacob Bancks is committed to expanding the arts in our community. Previously, he composed ‘Rock Island Line’ for the Quad City Symphony Orchestra and that work has really taken off.”

Bancks wrote his first song at age five and his first professional commission while still in high school. His Signature Series premiere composition, “Five Pieces for Violin and Piano,” is about 22 minutes long and is divided into five segments.

“The first segment, ‘Tourist Trap,’ has a flashy opening and invites people in,” Bancks said. “‘October’ is a meditative, jazz-inspired piece. ‘Skara, Skara Havre’ is part of a Swedish saying which means, ‘Cut, cut the oats, but who will come behind to bind them?’ It was inspired by a tapestry in my wife’s grandparent’s home. ‘Taxi Dancer’ is a slow, moody piece, inspired by the concept of a taxi dancer. ‘Here to Stay’ is the big finale, inspired by George Gershwin.”

“It’s wonderful that the QCSO, now in its 100th Season, has devoted so much time and resources to working with composers,” Bancks said. “Any organization that hopes to be around for another hundred years should be as dedicated to the future as it is to the past.”

Quad City Symphony Orchestra tickets are available at the QCSO box office at 327 Brady St., Davenport, IA. You can also call the QCSO at (563) 322-7276 or visit For more information on future offerings from QCSO, be sure to download the full 100th Season brochure at