At the Quad City Symphony Orchestra, composer Michael Abels (center) with Jose Francisco Salgado (left), who made a film to accompany “Liquify,” commissioned from Abels by the QC Symphony, and Music Director Mark Russell Smith (right). The QCSO presented the work and film on Feb. 3 and 4, 2024. Photo by Jonathan Turner.

In Tuesday’s (2/5) Our Quad Cities (Iowa), Jonathan Turner writes, “The Quad City Symphony Orchestra (QCSO) will present just the second-ever performance of ‘Omar’s Journey,’ a concert opera based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning opera ‘Omar’ by Grammy-Award winning artist Rhiannon Giddens and composer Michael Abels. The one-hour programs will take place on Feb. 1 & 2, 2025 … This version was commissioned and premiered by the Ojai Music Festival in California in June 2023, where singer-songwriter Rhiannon Giddens is music director. ‘Omar’s Journey’ traces the life of Omar Ibn Said, a scholar from West Africa, who was enslaved and transported to South Carolina in 1807…. ‘In bringing ‘Omar’s Journey’ to the stage, we’re not just performing an opera; we’re sharing a masterpiece that bridges cultures and epochs through its compelling music and narrative,’ Music Director Mark Russell Smith (a longtime friend of Abels since their grade school days in Phoenix) said…. The QCSO has been a significant advocate of Abels’ work. They have performed a range of his compositions, including the lush musical illustration of ‘Frederick’s Fables’, ‘Delights and Dances,’ and his orchestral work ‘Liquify,’ which was commissioned by the QCSO. The orchestra also co-commissioned his guitar concerto ‘Borders.’ ”