A magic weekend for QCSO youth
This weekend is a big one for Quad City Symphony Orchestra (QCSO) youth programs.
At 2 p.m. Saturday, at Davenport Central's Performing Arts Center (1120 Main St.), the orchestra and the touring Classical Kids Live! will perform “Gershwin's Magic Key,” which tells of a chance meeting on the streets of New York between a poor newspaper boy and the great American composer George Gershwin.
This 50-minute drama about friendship and the melting pot of American music is woven together by 20 of Gershwin’s greatest hits, including “Rhapsody in Blue,” “An American in Paris,” and “I Got Rhythm.”
Premiered in 2015 with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., the music flows through the drama as two actors share anecdotes and observations based on true incidents from the composer’s life. The QCSO tickets are $10 — $25 for adults, and $5 — $20 for students.
At 3 p.m. Sunday is the QCSO/QCSYE Side-by-Side concert at the Adler Theatre, 136 3rd St., Davenport. All five Youth Ensembles perform side-by-side with another ensemble, including a performance of the Youth Symphony Orchestra with the QCSO, under the direction of conductor Mark Russell Smith. That will feature QCSYE Concerto Competition grand-prize winner Axel Ferguson, on oboe, performing “La Favorita,” a concerto by Antonio Pasculli (1842-1924).
Ferguson is principal oboist of the YSO, of which he has been a member for three years. He attends Moline High School, where he plays oboe in the Symphonic Band and Symphonic Orchestra. Tickets for the youth concert are $15-$25 adults and $8-$12 students, available at 563-322-7276 or qcso.org.
Capping the weekend, following that concert at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, will be the fourth-annual Community Wide Side-by-Side concert — in which musicians from the community, of all ages and skill levels, join the QCSO in playing selections from Leonard Bernstein's “West Side Story,” in the RiverCenter's Mississippi River Hall. There's no admission charge to listen.
Storytelling in Bishop Hill
Evan Bartels, an independent singer/songwriter from Omaha, will play an album-release concert (including Angela Meyer) at the Bishop Hill Creative Commons, 309 N. Bishop Hill St., at 6 p.m. Sunday, April 28. In celebration of Bartels' new EP, "Promised Land," tickets are $10, available at http://bit.ly/2IzziNk.
He's dedicated his life to living in a way that encompasses all facets of the human experience and capturing those feelings and emotions through songwriting, according to Bartels' biography. Since the release of his 2017 debut full-length "The Devil, God, & Me," he's been learning and collecting stories. Touring throughout the country, as well as becoming a father, have enhanced his perspective and widened his lens on the world.
"These experiences have offered deeper insight and empathy towards the struggles of the human experience, which he clearly expresses in his poignant and personal songwriting," his bio says.
Bartels wrote, produced and recorded all instruments on the new five-song release, centering on "the art of breaking down one’s belief systems, habits, personality and rebuilding into a new person.
“These songs are love songs. They’re about loving myself enough to question everything I am and be willing to break myself down to my core so that I can find who I can be if I’m at my best," the artist says.
Country artist in the Spotlight
Jake McVey is a rising country artist accustomed to the spotlight.
But the Iowa native and current Nashville music man will make his debut at Moline's Spotlight Theatre, 1800 7th Ave., with a show at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, also featuring Elizabeth Mary and the Q-C band Wild Oatz.
Born into a musical household in Washington, Iowa, his farm family lived in Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and Burlington in his youth. "I'm just a good Iowa boy who likes to work hard,” McVey says in his bio. “I was brought up with a great work ethic. I was raised that when the sun is shining, it’s time to make hay. That’s just who I am. I love to work.”
He played a 10-day stand at the 2015 Iowa State Fair, and in 2016, McVey released the single "Y'all Girls," which became his radio breakthrough, giving his first placement on the Country Singles charts.
He’s shared the stage with some of country’s most acclaimed acts, including Blake Shelton, Thomas Rhett, Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Little Big Town, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley.
McVey says he gives his all at every show. “It’s all about entertaining the fans and showing each and every person in the room a good time.” The Moline tickets are $20-$40, available at jakemcveyqc.eventbrite.com.
Augie succeeds with latest musical
Augustana College's mew musical is the fizzy, funny, frenetic "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," by Frank Loesser and Abe Burrows, in the Brunner Main Stage Theatre (3750 7th Ave., Rock Island) at 7:30 p.m. April 26-28 and May 3-4, and 1:30 p.m. on May 5.
The 1961 satire of big business and all it holds sacred, the show follows the rise of J. Pierrepont Finch, who uses the titular handbook to climb the corporate ladder from lowly window washer to high-powered executive, tackling such familiar but potent dangers as the aggressively compliant “company man,” the office party, backstabbing coworkers, caffeine addiction and, of course, true love, according to a college release.
According to director Shelley Cooper, she and a cast and production crew of over 65 Augie students are “exploring the fact that there is truth in comedy, uncomfortable/awkward life moments, three-dimensional characters with interesting relationships, and an in-your-face, fast-paced, episodic structure; the show does not stop moving! We have been grappling with serious issues such as toxic masculinity in the work force, but how there is slight hope for change.”
"How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" — which includes the songs "I Believe in You" and "The Brotherhood of Men" — won both the Tony Award for Best Musical and a 1962 Pulitzer Prize. The cast includes Augustana students Rami Halabi (1919) as Finch and Lauren Larson (’22) as Rosemary.
Tickets are $15 for the general public, $12 for senior citizens and Augustana faculty/staff, $10 for students and children, and free for Auguie students with ID. Tickets can be purchased at 309-794-7306 or augustana.edu/tickets.