Masterworks II: A Passion for Life

“Masterworks II: A Passion for Life” Offers Drama, Beauty and Joy A compelling artist who combines exhilarating emotion with fierce integrity, award-winning violinist Erin Keefe has performed with the top orchestras of the world. In the second presentation of the Quad City Symphony Orchestra (QCSO) 100th Anniversary Masterworks series, Keefe will perform one of the greatest concerto masterpieces – Johannes Brahms’ Violin Concerto, which abounds with rich melodies and joyous dances. Keefe’s performance is just one course of the musical feast presented in Masterworks II: A Passion for Life. Masterworks II will be held 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 1 at the Adler Theatre, Davenport, IA, and 2 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 2 at Centennial Hall, Augustana College, Rock Island, IL. QCSO Music Director and Conductor Mark Russell Smith will lead the orchestra. In addition to the Violin Concerto, the evening will also include a world premiere composition by James Romig entitled “Bridges,” and Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 “Pathétique.” “Keefe is charismatic, profound and engaging,” said Smith. “She imbues the Violin Concerto with life. Brahms’ piece has a vibrant Hungarian folk music influence. It holds drama and also offers moments of sweeping beauty. For me, it is ‘the’ violin concerto.” Erin Keefe and Brahms’ Violin Concerto Violinist Erin Keefe is quickly establishing a powerful reputation worldwide. She is a top prize-winner of international competitions and has given recitals in America, Austria, Germany, Korea, Poland, Japan and Denmark. “The Brahms is my absolute favorite concerto to perform,” she said. “It is technically quite challenging but incredibly rewarding. I have played it many times but not at all in the past five years, so I'm really looking forward to this performance.” Neither of Keefe’s parents are musicians, but her father always loved listening to classical music. “He thought it would be a good hobby for me,” she said, “so I started taking violin lessons at the age of 7 through a Suzuki program.” Keefe added that she feels very honored to take part in the 100th Season of the QCSO. “I have heard so many great things about the orchestra,” she said, “and I'm looking forward to making music with them. It will also be fun to work with Mark Russell Smith because he was the conductor of an orchestra I played in when I was in high school.” “Erin is an exceptional musician and a true soloist with a depth of musicality,” said Benjamin Loeb, Executive Director of the QCSO. “She has the talent and maturity needed to express the different roles in this beautiful work by Brahms. She will give a glorious performance.” Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was a German composer and pianist. He composed for piano, chamber ensembles, symphony orchestra, as well as voice and chorus. His popularity and influence throughout his career were considerable. He is often grouped with Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven as one of the “Three Bs” of great composers. James Romig’s “Bridges” New commissions have been an important part of the QCSO’s history – especially during the 100th Anniversary season. New music helps to keep orchestral music relevant, and the QCSO encourages its creation. Masterworks II will feature a new composition entitled “Bridges” from Quad-Cities resident James Romig, Associate Professor of Composition and Theory at Western Illinois University. Romig composes music that reflects the intricate complexity of nature. He enjoys hiking and photography, and is interested in chaos theory, fractal geometry, and small-world networks. Romig stated that he is delighted to be part of the QCSO’s 100th Season. “I've enjoyed and appreciated the QCSO since my student days at the University of Iowa in the 1990s,” he said. Romig’s new work is entitled “Bridges” and he noted that the name has numerous meanings. “Compositionally speaking, my new work provides multiple musical high-points that are connected by ‘bridges’ of long notes in the woodwinds and brass instruments,” he said. “The cities of Moline, Rock Island, Bettendorf, and Davenport are quite literally connected by bridges. Also, the title is a pun on the anatomy of string instruments, whose strings rest on a thin piece of resonant wood called a bridge.” “James’ diverse interests give his music an inner logic that his listeners understand implicitly,” said Loeb. “His sense of structure is masterful. You may not see the girders, but you need them to make sure the building is sound.” Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 “Pathétique” The final piece of the evening, Symphony No. 6 “Pathétique,” comes from composer Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893). He was the first Russian composer whose music made a lasting impression on an international level. His final work, Symphony No. 6 is the capstone to a career filled with both wild success and deep disappointment. “Music is indeed the most beautiful of all Heaven’s gifts to humanity wandering in the darkness,” Tchaikovsky once said. “Alone it calms, enlightens, and stills our souls. It is not the straw to which the drowning man clings; but a true friend, refuge, and comforter, for whose sake life is worth living.” “Tchaikovsky poured his heart out in this piece,” Loeb said. “It represents the highest highs and the lowest lows. There are profound emotions in this piece that go beyond the everyday happy and sad. While Brahms and Tchaikovsky did not like each other’s music, we are sure our patrons will enjoy hearing them as part of the same program.” 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 www.qcso.org. For more information on future offerings from QCSO, be sure to download the full 100th Season brochure at www.qcso.org/calendar.html.