World Relief Quad Cities (WRQC) announced today its partnership with Quad City Symphony Orchestra (QCSO) to present the musical programming series Masterworks III: Ode to Guitar on December 3, 2022 at 7:00 p.m. and December 4 at 2:00 p.m. at the Adler Theater.

Through the partnership, WRQC and QCSO aim to bring people together around the power of music, while giving back to refugees in the process by donating 50% of ticket proceeds to support immigrants and refugees in the local community.

“At a time when our communities are in need of connection, this program will bring people together to celebrate music across cultures,” said World Relief Quad Cities Executive Director Laura Fontaine. “World Relief Quad Cities is thrilled to join the Quad City Symphony Orchestra in telling the story and recognizing the critical contribution of immigrants and refugees in our society. We are thankful to QCSO for their support in giving back to our immigrant and refugee communities in the region.”

The program will feature acclaimed guitarist Mak Grgić and composer Michael Abels, along with narrator and local TV anchor Jim Niedelman. In the concert, Grgić is joining the QCSO to premiere a QCSO co-commissioned Guitar Concerto “Borders” composed by Abels.

“This piece is inspired by the museum exhibit ‘Sahara: Acts of Memory’ by Amir Berbic depicting life in camp ‘Sahara’ that was created in Denmark for housing refugees of the Bosnian War in the 1990s,” said Composer Michael Abels. “Among the refugees were graphic artist Ismet Berbic and his family. The exhibit details the Berbics’ struggle to preserve individuality, family and cultural identity in the face of losing country and community. Guitarist Mak Grgic is a friend of the Berbics, and experienced the Balkan war firsthand as a child. In the first movement of this concerto, the guitar is a protagonist that is repeatedly confined by sonic bars or walls created by the orchestra. The second movement depicts a child running, sometimes joyfully, but also sometimes in fear.”

“When Michael and I first started talking about the narrative of the new guitar concerto, we couldn’t help but notice that we both came from turbulent backgrounds and that music had provided a safe haven for us,” said featured Guitarist Mak Grgić, an immigrant himself. “It was a sheer coincidence that around the same time, my friend Amir Berbic had an exhibit in Pomona, California, about his family’s experience as refugees during the Balkan War in the 1990s. We visited Amir’s exhibit Sahara: Acts of Memory together, and it touched us both deeply, providing further inspiration for Michael’s writing of the concerto, which took on the title ‘Borders’. I am beyond thrilled that we chose to present music as something that supersedes life’s obstacles, and that the Berbic family’s story of persistence and perseverance has been told so well.”

Tickets to the performance are on sale now and can be purchased on the QCSO event page. To give back to World Relief Quad Cities with your ticket purchase, the code WRQC can be entered on the discount code page of the check-out process.

About World Relief

World Relief is a global Christian humanitarian organization that brings sustainable solutions to the world’s greatest problems – disasters, extreme poverty, violence, oppression, and mass displacement. For over 75 years, we’ve partnered with churches and community leaders in the U.S. and abroad to bring hope, healing and transformation to the most vulnerable.

Release by Baylee Lakey



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