“Courage & Spirit” Concert features Outstanding Young Musicians

he Quincy Symphony Orchestra commemorates Black History Month with a powerful concert full of emotion and recognition. QSO’s “Courage & Spirit” Concert will be presented at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 13 in Quincy Junior High’s Morrison Theater. 

The performance features Illinois composer James Stephenson’s “there are no words,” written in response to the Charleston, SC shooting on June 17, 2015, in which a white supremacist murdered nine Black worshippers at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Stephenson constructed the piece by relying heavily on the number nine, representing each of the victims of the tragedy. He names them in the score – “Dedicated to Clementa, Sharonda, Myra, Tywanza, Ethel, Cynthia, Daniel, DePayne, and Susie” – and constructs a short, tonal song from their names that provides important melodic material for the piece. He also uses a nine-note sequence throughout the piece and uses bell chimes for great climactic effect.

The orchestra also presents Jennifer Higdon’s ‘blue cathedral,’ the most performed contemporary classical piece in the world, with more than 650 performances. The composer says the piece is blue…like the sky. Where all possibilities soar. Cathedrals are a place of thought, growth, spiritual expression…serving as a symbolic doorway in to and out of this world.

The Quincy Area Youth Orchestra will join the QSO for an uplifting performance of “Dances in the Canebrakes” by Florence Price, arranged for orchestra by William Grant Still. Still was the first nationally recognized African-American composer and Price is the first female African-American composer to gain national footing. Originally composed for piano, the dances emulate the old-style ballroom and theater traditions of rag, slow drag, and cakewalk. QAYO Conductor Dr. Rich Cangro will direct the joint orchestras for this joy-filled piece. 

This concert continues the QSO’s long-established tradition of featuring the winners of the Martha McCrory Young Artist Competition: Preston Trinh, violin, and Ashlan Tullock, xylophone. In its 67th year, the contest provides outstanding high school musicians the opportunity to perform as concert soloists, accompanied by a symphony orchestra. Both the orchestra and soloists are under the baton of Music Director Bruce Briney.

Preston Trinh, a sophomore at Quincy Senior High School, will perform the first movement of “Symphonie Espagnole” by Édouard Lalo.

Ashlan Tullock, a junior at Central High School, will perform the third movement of “Concertino for Xylophone & Orchestra” by Toshiro Mayuzumi.

“Courage & Spirit” will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 13 at Quincy Junior High. Tickets will be available at the door or may be purchased in advance at County Market, Quincy Hy-Vee, or from Sturhahn Jewelers. The cost is $18 for adults and $15 for seniors. Thanks to support from the Tracy Family Foundation and Community Foundation, children 18 and under are admitted free to all QSO concerts and are encouraged to attend. 

The performance is made possible, in part, by Concert Sponsor Royal Printing, Music Sponsor Quincy Medical Group, Encore Symphony Volunteer Council, and the Illinois Arts Council Agency. The 2021-22 season sponsors are Blessing Health System and Knapheide Manufacturing Company. 

      QSOA will sell tickets for their annual fundraising raffle at the concert and appreciates the support from the community. Raffle tickets are $10 each or 12/$100 and are also available from any chorus, orchestra, Encore! or board member. The $1,000 grand prize drawing will be held at the “Natural Wonders” Finale Concert on April 10.  Buy raffle tickets early to also be included in the March 5 Early Bird drawing for $250 cash. The winner need not be present. Sponsored by Homebank and Cape Air, the annual raffle supports the many programs of the Quincy Symphony Orchestra Association, including the youth orchestra, youth choirs, and free concerts for children. Visit www.qsoa.org or call QSOA at 217-222-2856 for more information.