QCSO’s brass and percussion sections will get downright jolly as they play a variety of holiday favorites this weekend, December 14 and 15, partnering with students at both North Scott and Moline High Schools for WVIK/QCSO Signature Series II: Holiday Brass. Each performance will feature the classic T’was the Night Before Christmas with guest narrators from the Quad Cities Chamber and WQAD Channel 8.

Getting Festive with Brass

 While just two sections of the full QCSO will perform this weekend, do not expect a watered-down experience. In fact, this program pairs brass and percussion together perfectly, emphasizing the innate and festive nature of each.

“In festive occasions, there’s brass and percussion,” said QCSO Music Director and Conductor Mark Russell Smith. “There’s a volume and a very thrilling aspect in pairing brass and percussion. It’s kind of perfect for holidays in that way.”

QCSO Principal Horn Marc Zyla has been dying for the chance to really show off the prowess of brass instruments.

“I’m really excited to have the opportunity to play a full, entire program with my brass colleagues,” he said. “While the concert themselves are exciting, I am looking forward to spending that time with my colleagues in rehearsal and creating that sound together.”

Gifting the Next Generation of Performers

For both performances, QCSO will partner with high school musicians. Sharing in a moment of comradery feels all too appropriate given the warm and giving nature of the pieces performed.

“I remember when I was a kid, the thing that got me hooked and wanting to do this as a career was hearing really great brass players in the sound of an orchestra,” Zyla said. Besides Principal Horn, Zyla is also QCSO’s Director of Education and Community Engagement, helping to plan and execute performances focused on fostering community connection. This is one of such performances.

“I hope that the students who come and play with us are impressed and excited by the sounds that professional players can make. And hopefully, it makes them aspire to reach that level as they go on in their music study.”

Saturday’s performance takes place at North Scott High School while Sunday’s is at Moline High School. The Moline High School choir will perform George Frideric Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus on both days.

“It’s great to be able to work with high school musicians,” Smith said. “The things they pick up sitting next to the great players of the QCSO are things that can’t really be taught in lessons. It’s always exciting to open the doors for young musicians and to show them things not exactly by teaching, but by doing.”

T’was the Night Before Christmas with Special Guests

There is no overstating the cultural significance of T’was the Night Before Christmas. It is simply iconic, and QCSO plans to do it justice through a brass-filed interpretation paired with local celebrities.

“Having T’was the Night Before Christmas poem set with different music will be really fun,” Smith said. “And for us to have the spoken word element within this performance is really special.”

Greg Aguilar, Q2030 Director at the Quad Cities Chamber, will lend his voice for Saturday night’s performance. Sunday’s will feature WQAD Talent Angie Sharp.

“Angie and Greg are very supportive of what the orchestra is doing and its efforts to engage the entire community,” Zyla said. “I am excited that they were willing to join us.”

Smith echoed the sentiment, adding, “It’s great when we are able to partner with other community organizations for a performance like this.”

A Fun, Family-Friendly Program

This weekend’s performance truly is a perfect way for folks to open their hearts to the magic of the holiday season.

“For professional musicians, there are things that mean the holidays for you,” Smith said. “And it doesn’t really feel like the holidays until you do a program like this.”

Smith added that the balance between pieces is perfect, containing a mixture of both big and small moments.

“The program is a bunch of individual pieces that vary,” he said. “There’s no one big, huge piece. You have beautiful, soft, reflective pieces like Silent Night—and then big, festive, brass pieces. It’s meant to be a really family-friendly, fun program.”

As for Zyla, he hopes this performance will inspire the community to embrace the magic of the season along with the orchestra.

“I hope we can spark a new tradition in the Quad Cities of bringing in the holidays with brass music,” he said. “This is going to be such a heartwarming experience for all who attend.”


WVIK/QCSO Signature Series II: Holiday Brass
December 14, 2019 | 7:30 p.m.
North Scott Fine Arts Auditorium
200 S. 1st St. | Eldridge, IA

December 15, 2019 | 2:00 pm
Bartlett Performing Arts Center
3600 Avenue of the Cities | Moline, IL

Purchase Tickets | $25 Adults each | $10 Students/Children each


Article by
Tyler Mitchell
Freelance Writer

Funding for the QCSO website provided by the Scott County Regional Authority