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Arts & Culture

COVID & the Arts: QCSO Fall Concerts

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Even though many orchestras nationwide have cancelled their in-person concerts for the fall, the Quad City Symphony Orchestra is proceeding with its Masterworks concerts at the Adler Theatre in Davenport this fall, but with some major changes. 

Following recommendations from the Scott County Health Department, the QCSO has altered its October, November, and December programs – to cut the size of the ensemble in half, to about 40 musicians; allow only 25 percent capacity in the Adler for both Saturday night and Sunday afternoon concerts; require masks and social distancing, and eliminate intermissions and concessions sales.

Brian Baxter, Executive Director of the orchestra, says having patrons and performers wear masks and keep their distance are crucial. The concerts will be shorter, to minimize time inside, and intermission is removed to avoid mingling in the lobby.   

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Credit QCSO
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Brian Baxter, Ex. Dir. of the QCSO

“It’s a very different setup than we would do under normal circumstances. The orchestra is less than half the size for all the programs. We can’t do Beethoven 9, because 150 singers on stage, that’s not possible in this environment. And the length of the program is shortened so we can have a performance with no intermission.”

As part of worldwide celebrations of the 250-th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven’s birth, the QCSO had planned to perform Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, which features the choral “Ode to Joy” last movement, on October 3rd and 4th. It typically has Sunday matinee concerts at Augustana College’s Centennial Hall; instead, both will be held at the Adler.

The fall Masterworks concerts can be enjoyed in person or via high-definition live stream for the Sunday performance (which will be a recording from Saturday night). Digital access will be available for purchase for single concerts or in a subscription package. Subscribers will have the first right of refusal for in-person tickets or can choose to switch to digital access for the fall.

“What we’re trying to do is preserve the live music, provide a livestream option for those unable or uncomfortable coming in person, and still deliver on our mission. All of these things are being done in consultation with the Scott County Health Department, which has been extremely generous with their time and helpful as we formulate our plans. It’s all about health and safety, while still offering live music.”

If subscribers have Sunday Centennial tickets, they have the option of going to the Adler or seeing the livestream. The individual livestream tickets are $40 per household. If subscribers switch to livestream, Baxter says they could get a refund for the difference or donate it back.

For the Beethoven year, the October program includes his Coriolan Overture and First Symphony; in November, concertmaster Naha Greenholtz will play the Violin Concerto, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, “Eroica” will substitute for Mahler’s First in December.

Subscribers have been contacted, and tickets will not be sold on-site, but must be purchased in advance. Tickets will not be touched by the ticket scanners, and program booklets will only be available in a digital format. The program booklet will be available in advance online if attendees wish to print their own copies.

“It’s requiring a lot of patience and understanding on behalf of our subscribers, because we can’t guarantee your normal seat. We have to use the entire space of the theater, so we can fit as many people as we can but keep people distant.”

For tickets or more information on the new guidelines, visit qcso.og or call 563-322-7276.