Originally Posted Online: Oct. 04, 2012, 10:52 am
Last Updated: Oct. 05, 2012, 1:17 pm

New Q-C concertmaster debuts with orchestra this weekend

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By Jonathan Turner jturner@qconline.com

Photo: Submitted
The Quad City Symphony Orchestra has named Naha Greenholtz as its new concertmaster.

Closing in on its 100th season (in two years), the Quad City Symphony Orchestra will mark new beginnings this season, as well as a couple major composer anniversaries.

Currently in a search for a new executive director (Jeff vom Saal moved to California in August to lead the Marin Symphony), the QCSO welcomes a new concertmaster in its first Masterworks concerts, Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Adler Theatre, Davenport, and 2 p.m. Sunday at Centennial Hall, Rock Island.

A 27-year-old Japan native, violinist Naha Greenholtz succeeds Allen Ohmes (who stepped down from the string leader job in 2011 after 47 years), and will solo in the Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1 with the QCSO.

"She's awesome; everyone got to experience our audition process, and she was everybody's favorite terrific player," music director and conductor Mark Russell Smith said recently of Ms. Greenholtz. "She will bring energy, great experience, and brings a real zest to it."

A 2007 graduate of the Juilliard School, Ms. Greenholtz made her solo debut at 14 with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (she grew up in Vancouver, Canada), playing the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto. She has soloed around the world and been a member of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (her husband is a clarinetist with the Milwaukee orchestra).

Since last fall, she has served as concertmaster of the Madison Symphony Orchestra, a position she will continue to hold while working with the QCSO.

Ms. Greenholtz was born in Kyoto, Japan, where she began her violin studies at age 3. Last season, as part of her Q-C concertmaster candidacy, she was guest concertmaster for the QCSO's February Valentine's Day concert and the War Requiem. Saturday -- which also features Dvorak's Symphony No. 8 -- marks her first official performance with the QCSO since accepting the position.

Tonight at 6:30, area high-school and middle-school students are invited experience "behind the scenes" at the orchestra's dress rehearsal at the Adler Theatre, 136 E. 3rd St., Davenport. Before the rehearsal begins, Mr. Smith will meet with participants in the lobby to give an introduction to what you're about to see and hear. Participants also will get the opportunity to meet Ms. Greenholtz.

After the Saturday night performance, the audience is invited to mingle with the musicians and Mr. Smith in the lobby of the Hotel Blackhawk at Afterglow. The evening includes free hors d'oeuvres.

The conductor -- who lives in the Twin Cities and is the University of Minnesota's director of orchestral studies -- is completing his cycle of Stravinsky 100th anniversary ballets in March 2013 with the Russian composer's revolutionary 1913 masterpiece, "The Rite of Spring." In recent seasons, Mr. Smith has led the QCSO in Stravinsky's "The Firebird" (1910) and "Petrushka" (1911). The orchestra last did "Rite of Spring" in 1982.

In December, he's also recognizing the 200th anniversary of Verdi's birth (Oct. 13, 1813) with Act III of the composer's last opera, "Falstaff," which premiered when Verdi was almost 80. Mr. Smith is leading a production of the full opera in the Twin Cities in November, and will bring the cast here.

QCSO subscriptions are available for the full season or a "pick-three" package. Subscribers can save up to 25 percent off regular single-ticket prices. For more information or to subscribe, visit qcsymphony.com or call (563) 322-7276.

Highlights of the rest of the 2012-13 season

Nov. 3-4: Guest clarinetist Burt Hara playing Mozart's Clarinet Concerto in A major, and Beethoven's Symphony No. 6 ("Pastorale").
Nov. 17: Holiday Pops -- at the i wireless Center in Moline -- featuring electric violinist Mark Wood, co-founder of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
Dec. 1-2: A Shakespeare-themed program featuring the University of Minnesota Opera Theatre (which Mr. Smith conducts) and Quad City Choral Arts, with excerpts from Mendelssohn's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," Tchaikovsky's "Romeo and Juliet" and Verdi's opera "Falstaff."
Feb. 9-10: Valentine's Day with Bernstein's "West Side Story Symphonic Dances," Tchaikovsky's Waltz from "Swan Lake" and the vocal group Five by Design performing swing-era favorites.
March 9-10: An orchestral showcase of Russian classics, featuring Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" and Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition."
April 13-14: Piano soloist Tom Sauer (a Davenport native) playing Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 ("The Emperor"), with Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4.