Earlier this month, seven representatives from the QCSO attended the League of American Orchestra’s 79th Annual Conference held this year in Houston Texas:   

  • Brian Baxter, Executive Director 
  • Caitlin Lingle Bishop, Director of Marketing 
  • Chelsea Sammons, Director of Education and Community Engagement  
  • Kaylee Anderson, Director of Finance 
  • Darlene Steffen, Board of Trustees, President 
  • Mike Steffen, Volunteers for Symphony, Member
  • Laurie Skjerseth, Volunteers for Symphony, Member, League of American Orchestra Volunteer Council President

After submitting a proposal this past winter, Baxter, Bishop, and Sammons were invited to present and lead a Discovery Session during the conference entitled “Orchestrating Community Engagement: A Multi-Pronged Approach to Audience Development and Inclusion.” 

 The session explored the QCSO’s innovative programs Concert Access Pass and Promo Partners, which strive to make orchestral music accessible to all, especially underserved and diverse populations. Additionally, they highlighted the orchestra’s youth-centric initiatives, from Students @ Symphony, which invites school music groups to Masterworks performances, to the formation of the Quad City Symphony Youth Ensembles Concert Club. These efforts nurture the next generation of orchestra enthusiasts and position the QCSO as a community-centric entity, bringing people together through music. These strategies can help orchestras deepen community ties, cultivate future subscribers, and ensure enduring relevance and growth. In addition to these four main tactics, the QCSO has developed several supporting programs such as the Student Program Booklet and Crescendo Corner to help enrich and improve the experience of our younger audience members.   

Through partnerships with social service and other non-profit community organizations, Concert Access Pass or CAP connects the orchestra with individuals who might benefit from a free ticket the most. Individuals who are receiving services or assistance from a CAP Partner organization can request to join CAP through the participating organization. As a member, they can receive up to four free tickets to all QCSO concerts, which they can request via phone, in person, or online up to 30 days before the first concert performance. 

Promo Partners provides the Patrons and Supporters of non-profit organizations with an opportunity to financially support those organizations by purchasing a ticket to a QCSO Masterworks Performance. Promo Partners are provided a unique “discount” code that they can share via emails, social media, or newsletters. The QCSO tracks all tickets purchased using the code and provides a generous 50% giveback on all tickets sold by that partner organization. 

The Students @ Symphony program was created to provide more invitations for students to attend concerts throughout their music education. School music programs, including bands, choirs, and orchestras, are invited to attend any Masterworks Concert. The program provides free tickets to students and teachers with only $5 companion tickets if teachers also want to invite families. Additionally, established student groups in the region, such as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, homeschool coalitions, etc. are invited to attend Masterworks concerts together.  

Students who participate in the Quad City Symphony Youth Ensembles are invited to attend Masterworks and Up Close concerts for free. Members in the top two orchestras (Youth Philharmonic and Youth Symphony Orchestra) are invited to join the Concert Club. In addition to free tickets, Concert Club provides a chaperoned concert experience where members can attend concerts together with other members as well as pre-concert activities. Participation costs $25 per student and is provided free of charge to those receiving financial aid. This fee covers the cost of a Concert Club T-shirt and a pre-concert meal held before the first Masterworks Concert of the season. 

Student Program Booklets are available at each Masterworks Concert and are a digital publication that is easily scrolled through on a phone. Student Program Booklet content is created by Kimberly Gardner, a Rock Island General Music Teacher, who tailors the program to students of all ages and ensures that the content is relevant and informational. Gardner highlights historical events, QCSO musicians, and guest artists in addition to providing programmatic information. She cares deeply about developing a meaningful concert experience for students in the Quad Cities region. 

Available at the Sunday performance of each Masterworks Concert, Crescendo Corner hosts a pre-concert activity for young students to enjoy in the lobby. In addition to QCSO-sponsored activities, community organizations are also invited to host an activity. This program was developed in response to a trend of younger families attending Sunday afternoon Masterworks concerts. 


The League of American Orchestras leads, supports, and champions America’s orchestras and the vitality of the music they perform. Its diverse membership of more than 1,800 organizations and individuals across North America runs the gamut from world-renowned orchestras to community groups, from summer festivals to student and youth ensembles, from conservatories to libraries, from businesses serving orchestras to individuals who love symphonic music. The national organization dedicated solely to the orchestral experience, the League is a nexus of knowledge and innovation, advocacy, and leadership advancement. Its conferences and events, award-winning Symphony magazine, website, and other publications inform people around the world about orchestral activity and developments. Founded in 1942 and chartered by Congress in 1962, the League links a national network of thousands of instrumentalists, conductors, managers and administrators, board members, volunteers, and business partners. Visit americanorchestras.org. 

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