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by Montana Farrell

On Thursday, March 1 members of the Quad City Youth Symphony Orchestra (YSO) led an annual tradition that goes back to 1982. For thirty-six years, fourth- and fifth-grade students from across our community have been welcomed to the Adler Theatre to enjoy a live, educational orchestra concert performed by students not much older than themselves.

Interim Conductor of YSO, Daniel Chetel, programmed this year’s musical program to “celebrate the diversity of the American experience through the prism of orchestral music.” Selections included:

  • Aaron Copland’s “Hoe-Down” from the ballet Rodeo
  • Movements I & II from Dvorak’s popular Symphony No. 9 From the New World
  • Spirituals Goin’ Home and Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, arranged for orchestra
  • “Mambo!” from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story

This year was a year of firsts, as we welcomed a guest artist to our stage to sing the arranged spirituals. Baritone Keith Dean, from Frankfort, Kentucky, and a member of the American Spiritual Ensemble, brought his beautiful voice to share these pieces with our audiences. Another first was the opportunity for YSO to perform under the baton of QCSO Music Director, Maestro Mark Russell Smith.

Symphony Day attendees arrived at the concert hall already familiar with the music to be performed via the pre-concert partnership between the QCSO and area general music teachers, who taught lessons inspired by information provided in the Symphony Day Resource Guide designed specifically for these concerts and provided at no expense to participating schools.

The Symphony Day tradition has been built and strengthened over years of contributions from the QCSO staff, support from the Volunteers for Symphony, talents of the YSO members, and excellent partnerships with the music educators of the Quad Cities and surrounding areas.

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