This weekend’s Quad City Symphony Masterworks concerts will shine the spotlight on American music and women, and cement the longstanding QC-Curtis connection.
Music director and conductor Mark Russell Smith is a loyal alum of the famed Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, and is bringing a special soloist from the school to perform Saturday night at the Adler Theatre and Sunday afternoon at Centennial Hall.
Michelle Cann — who has become one of the most sought-after pianists of her generation — has been on the Curtis faculty since 2020. Making her debut with the QCSO, she will perform the rhapsodic Second Piano Concerto (1901) by Sergei Rachmaninoff.
Cann made her debut with The Philadelphia Orchestra in 2021 and has recently performed concertos with The Cleveland Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, Orquestra Sinfônica Municipal de São Paulo, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the symphony orchestras of Atlanta, Baltimore, and Cincinnati.
She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in piano performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music, and an Artist’s Diploma from the Curtis Institute, where she studied with Robert McDonald.
Recognized as a leading interpreter of the piano music of Florence Price, Cann performed the New York City premiere of Price’s Piano Concerto in One Movement with The Dream Unfinished Orchestra in 2016 and the Philadelphia premiere with The Philadelphia Orchestra in February 2021, according to her bio.
Her recording of the concerto with the New York Youth Symphony won a Grammy Award in 2023 for Best Orchestral Performance. Her acclaimed debut solo album “Revival,” featuring music by Price and Margaret Bonds, was released in May 2023 on the Curtis Studio label. She has also recorded two Price piano quintets with the Catalyst Quartet.
Cann was the recipient of the 2022 Sphinx Medal of Excellence, the highest honor bestowed by the Sphinx Organization. She also received the Cleveland Institute of Music’s 2022 Alumni Achievement Award and the 2022 Andrew Wolf Chamber Music Award.
The QCSO’s “An American Tapestry” program begins with a journey to the Wild West in Aaron Copland’s rousing “Buckaroo Holiday” from Rodeo. Be swept away with Judith Shatin’s Piping the Earth before falling in love with the third movement of Amy Beach’s romantic Second Symphony, according to the concert synopsis.
Beach (1867-1944) was the first American female composer to have a symphony published and performed by a U.S. orchestra, when the Boston Symphony premiered this Second Symphony in 1896. Judith Shatin is William R. Kenan Jr. Professor Emerita at the University of Virginia, where she founded the Virginia Center for Computer Music.
The QCSO will close the first half of the new program with the driving energy of John Adams’s Short Ride in a Fast Machine (1986).
Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4 at the Adler (136 E. 3rd St., Davenport) and 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 5 at Centennial (3703 7th Ave., Rock Island.
For tickets and more information, visit the orchestra website HERE.