Beethoven, Brahms, & 'Rock Island Line" from QCSO

Jun 2, 2014

Join us Monday at 7 PM to hear the Quad City Symphony in Beethoven, Brahms, and ... Bancks. In March, the orchestra premiered a work by local composer Jacob Bancks specifically about the Quad Cities. It's called Rock Island Line  and yes, it quotes that Southern work song of unknown authorship  - the most famous reference ever made to one of the Quads, though it is actually about the train line that ran through the town.

Composer Jacob Bancks of Augustana College

Bancks also evokes the sounds of the trains themselves and of the Mississippi River, whose largest island gave the town its name. But wait - how does Bancks evoke the Mississippi musically? In his own way: he didn't want his river to sound like Smetana's Moldau.  He told me about it in the following phone interview last March, shortly before the premiere:

As Bancks told me, the piece also refers to the jazz of Quad Cities native Bix Beiderbecke. Above all, as I wrote back in March, Bancks "tries to capture that expansive feeling you get when you look out over the Quad Cities - an experience everyone should make a point of having!" If you haven't had it recently tune in! Our Symphonies of Iowa series is broadcasting the March concert Monday night.

There are also two great symphonies on the program - Beethoven's Eighth and Brahms's Second. They may seem to be "absolute" music  - that is, unlike Bancks's work, not "about" anything. Indeed, Beethoven's Eighth can be seen as a symphony about music. But the Brahms Second? Don't be fooled. Like Bancks's work, it refers to many things from the world the composer lived in, from woodland horn calls to his own already-famous lullaby subtly transposed to a minor key.

Music director Mark Russell Smith conducts.