The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Elvis Presley has been dead since 1977. But he lives on in a quirky symphonic piece and a new beer — both highlighted by the Quad City Symphony Orchestra (QCSO).
Regarding the programs this weekend fit for a king, QCSO executive director Brian Baxter posted on Facebook that not only is he “super excited about our super eclectic” program (pieces with royal themes), but he’s thrilled to partner with Bettendorf’s Twin Span Brewing. It has created a special beer in honor of this weekend’s concerts, specfically inspired by the piece, “Dead Elvis,” featuring the QC’s inimitable principal bassoonist, Benjamin Coelho.
This week, Twin Span (at TBK Sports Complex, 6776 Championship Drive) tapped the new Liquid Elvis. Inspired by Elvis’ favorite sandwich (peanut butter, banana and bacon), the weizenbock brings out flavors of banana and peanut butter. You can BYOB(acon) or order the Twin Span Gift of Bacon appetizer to complete the experience.
A portion of sales will be donated to the QCSO. This isn’t the first duet between the symphony and a local brewer.
This past March, Davenport’s Front Street offered a portion of sales of its new IPA, QCSO Harmonious Hazy, to the orchestra, as was done late last year by Davenport’s Stompbox Brewing for the Zylaphone English Ale.
Composer Michael Daugherty wrote about his 1993 Elvis piece, commissioned by Boston Musica Viva and Chuck Ullery, principal bassoonist with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra:
“It is more than a coincidence that it is scored for the same instrumentation as Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat (1918) in which a soldier sells his violin and his soul to the devil for a magic book. In Dead Elvis, the bassoon is Elvis (or perhaps an Elvis impersonator). Does this rock star sell out his Southern folk authenticity to the sophisticated professionalism of Hollywood movies, Colonel Parker and Las Vegas in order to attain great wealth and fame?
“Dead Elvis goes far beyond this romantic Faustian scenario. For me, the two clashing Elvis images (the hip, beautiful, genius, thin, rock-and-roll Elvis versus the vulgar, cheesy, fat, stoned, Las Vegas Elvis) serve as a sturm und drang compositional algorithm,” according to the composer’s website.
“Further, my use of the ‘dies irae’ (a medieval Latin chant for the Day of Judgment) as the principal musical theme of Dead Elvis signifies yet another aspect of the Elvis myth: some people believe Elvis is dead, while others believe he is alive and well in Kalamazoo.
“Perhaps the question is not whether Elvis is alive or dead, but why the phenomenon of Elvis endures beyond the grave of Graceland. Elvis, for better or worse, is part of American culture, history and mythology.”
A royal pleasure
The QCSO concerts (Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Davenport’s Adler Theatre and Sunday at 2 p.m. at Rock Island’s Centennial Hall) will be rich with royalty, starting with Duke Ellington’s jazz and gospel-influenced Three Black Kings (1974).
QCSO principal cellist Hannah Holman will captivate with the rich and haunting cello soliloquies of Ernest Bloch’s Schelomo (1917), the final work of his Jewish Cycle. The King of Rock and Roll’s signature sound is alive and well in Michael Daugherty’s Dead Elvis, and then the orchestra toasts to friendship with Johann Strauss, Jr.’s stately Emperor Waltz (1889).
The program ends with William Walton’s intense and cinematic suite from the 1944 Shakespeare film, “Henry V.”
For tickets or more information, visit the QCSO website.