Its founding in 1915 places the Quad City Symphony Orchestra (QCSO) among the twenty longest-established, continuously operating orchestral associations in the United States. The QCSO provides community service and programs to a market of more than 450,000 residents of eastern Iowa and western Illinois, staging performances in both Iowa and Illinois. Programming includes dozens of education programs delivered to over 24,000 area students.
Led by eleven music directors during its 102-year history, the orchestra has demonstrated steady artistic growth measured by the depth of the repertoire performed. Iowa and Illinois subscribers to QCSO performances are residents of more than 70 cities and towns.
The orchestra consists of an average number of 88 players contracted on a per-service basis and recruited from a wide region. The QCSO enjoys collaborative relationships with the music departments of the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis), University of Iowa (Iowa City), St. Ambrose University (Davenport), Augustana College (Rock Island), and Western Illinois University (Macomb), for the recruitment and supplemental employment of selected faculty members at those institutions.
Each season, the QCSO present six Masterworks concert series led by Mark Russell Smith, Music Director. In addition, the Signature Series presents small ensembles primarily in Wallenberg Hall on the Augustana College campus. This versatile and intimate series features select members of the QCSO and visiting artists from across the nation. Under the artistic direction of Concertmaster Naha Greenholtz, the Signature Series presents a unique artistic vision and is a testament to the vitality and versatility of the Quad City Symphony Orchestra musicians. In 1958, the QCSO founded the Quad City Youth Symphony Orchestra and since has added four additional training ensembles: the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, Youth String Ensemble, Prelude Strings, and Youth Choir.
The QCSO remains fully committed to providing the highest quality of instrumental music education possible for the area. For over 50 years, music education outreach ensembles of the QCSO have annually performed for tens of thousands of Iowa and Illinois students. Several age specific outreach programs are designed to offer comprehensive orchestral and instrumental music experiences for children from preschool through high school. The League of American Orchestras has recognized the QCSO Volunteers for Symphony (VFS) for its role in implementing these educational programs. VFS sponsors multiple annual fundraising projects toward continued funding for all QCSO education programs. These educational outreach programs reach over 24,000 annually.
Support from the QCSO Trust contributes to the stability of the QCSO fiscal operations. The Trust Management Committee operates under a policy for allocation of asset earnings assisting orchestra operations with 5% of the current 12 quarter rolling average. During the past year contributions of more than one thousand families, businesses, and foundations have steadily increased. As of December, 2016, the Symphony Trust has a value of $9.3M. The current 16-17 operating budget is $2.095 million.