From Davenport’s earliest days as a frontier river town, its residents displayed a marked musical sensibility, which crescendoed to passion upon arrival of Davenport’s first German settlers in the 1840s. These new arrivals soon felt an urgent hunger for the rich musical experience they had taken for granted in Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein. Possessing the know-how to systematically train musicians; organize, build, and run musical groups and endeavors; and solicit and appeal to the public for support, the Germans set about to do so, to awe and delight of their fellow Davenporters.
By the early 20th century, though its population was only 40,000, Davenport had a vibrant, diversified economic base which made it one of the most prosperous cities in the nation, able to nurture and support s multitude of musical organizations as well as hundreds of professional musicians in orchestras, bands, choirs, and chamber ensembles. The Tri-City Symphony, founded in 1916, is one of the oldest active orchestral institutions in the United States; yet its existence would have been impossible without a fertile musical culture and 70 years of organizational groundwork laid by Davenport’s German immigrants. This session will outline the features of this advanced musical ecosystem, built largely by Davenport’s Germans, which made the establishment of a civic symphony orchestra a possibility.
This program is offered both in-person and virtually.
FREE for GAHC&M Members, $5 for non-members.
Part 2 is February 12th, 2023.
Gates Thomas is a freelance composer, arranger, and music director. Born and raised in Davenport, he was based in New York City for 25 years, writing for the Lionel Hampton Big Band, Bobby McFerrin, Pat Metheny, Gary Burton, Jim Hall, Chris Willis, The New American Orchestra, and many others. Since moving back to Davenport, in October 2020, Gates has maintained his freelance career, and continues to serve as Professor of Contemporary Writing and Production at Berklee College of Music in Boston. In November 2022, he assumed duties as music director of the Unitarian-Universalist Congregation of the Quad Cities.
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