Quad City Symphony Orchestra, Mark Russell Smith.

When I travel back to my childhood home in Iowa to visit family and friends, I often take a couple of days to drive and visit the towns and cities inhabiting the Mississippi River Bend.  Traveling through these communities, one sees both old and new, theaters, dance halls, and park bandstands. Stay long enough and you may begin to hear stories from local residents of a traveling opera company or theater troupe that passed through long ago.  What strikes me in all these cases is that in each town someone had the crazy, wild dream of bringing the arts to their community no matter how big or small. The Quad Cities is one such community where a hundred years ago a group of townspeople had a wild dream to create and support a full symphony orchestra. With this in mind, I began composing imagining what it was like to have attended the first performance in 1916. Twelve hundred people, gathered together at the Burtis Opera House to listen to Wagner, Schubert, Saint-Saëns and Tchaikovsky that I am sure for many was for the very first time.  In my imaginings, I soon realized I had a similar experience sixty years later, growing up in a small town, hearing a live orchestra for the first time on a school field trip. I left the performance, changed by what I heard, and began to dream.

Beyond a Wild Dream in its development pays homage to those who dream, for those who build, for those who keep the dream alive.  


6 minutes

The Quad City Symphony Orchestra for their 100th Anniversary Celebration Opening Concert, Mark Russell Smith, music director, Benjamin Loeb, executive director.