Symphonies of Iowa

Sundays at 4 p.m. and Mondays at 7 p.m. on FM Classical (alternates with Classical 24)

Every week, Symphonies of Iowa showcases Iowa's leading orchestras in concert. You'll hear a mix of familiar masterpieces and new works, of world-renowned soloists and Iowa's best composers and musicians. Join us Sundays at 4 PM or Monday at 7 PM.

Click here for a simple chronological list of this season's concerts.

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Iowa Public Radio’s 2012-2013 Symphonies of Iowa season kicks off with Maestro Giunta and the Des Moines Symphony opening their seventy-fifth season with music from the Austrian film composer, Ernest Korngold.

Tchaikovsky Gold Medalist Barry Douglas makes his Iowa debut with the Des Moines Symphony playing Rachmaninoff’s blazing third piano concerto. The sultry Danzon by Marquez has become a DMSO audience favorite. The orchestra’s Spirit of America season concludes with perhaps the most quintessentially American work – Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story.

(Concert recorded May 12-13, 2012)

Orchestra Iowa’s 2011-2012 season concludes with a program featuring the music of Dvořák, Bartok and Shostakovich. Dvořák’s Slavic Dance No. 8 is from a series of pieces inspired by Brahms’ Hungarian Dances. Bartok’s Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta is truly a piece that is meant to be heard live, as the strings are divided into two groups and placed antiphonally on opposite sides of the stage. Following a series of works denounced by the Communist Party, Shostakovich delivered a rousing symphony that not only pleased critics, but audiences too.

Maestro Mark Russell Smith, Music Director and Conductor of the Quad City Symphony Orchestra, leads the orchestra in an international collaboration culminating in a large-scale performance of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem. This epic masterwork combines a non-liturgical setting of the Requiem Mass with nine poems by English poet and fallen World War I soldier, Wilfred Owen.

Violinist Miriam Fried joins Maestro Intriligator and the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra for a performance of the Brahms’ Violin Concerto in D Major. Written in 1878, the concerto features a rich thematic material, folk-like melodies and a fiery final movement. The DSO opens the concert with another dramatic favorite, Mozart’s Overture to Don Giovanni, followed by his Symphony No. 39.

(Concert recorded Feb. 11-12, 2012)

The Des Moines Symphony opens with one of Iowa’s most celebrated composers—the three-time Grammy-winner Michael Daugherty. His brilliant and fun Red Cape Tango celebrates a certain superhero from his Metropolis Symphony, and there is nothing more American than being “able to leap tall buildings!” The young American cellist Joshua Roman makes his Des Moines debut and Maestro Guinta conducts his favorite Dvořák symphony.

(Concert recorded April 14-15, 2012)

Select Orchestra Iowa wind players open this Chamber Showcase concert with Arnold Bax’s Elegiac Trio, inspired by Ireland’s 1919 Easter Rebellion. The brief but brilliant Entr’acte for Flute and Harp by French composer Jacques Ibert follows, and Dvořák’s Piano Quintet in A, abounding with Bohemian folk melodies, closes the program.

(Concert recorded April 14, 2012)

It caused a riot at its premiere and later, a battle of words between its composer and the Walt Disney Company. Now, nearly a century after its composition, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring still retains the capacity to shock and move us more than almost any other work in the orchestral repertoire. This third and most revolutionary of the ballet scores Stravinsky composed for the legendary impresario Serge Diaghilev, was written between 1911 and 1913.  The Rite of Spring may no longer set off riots, but it still packs quite a wallop.

Composed for Good Friday services during Bach’s first year at St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, the St. John Passion is a dramatic representation of the Passion as told in the Gospel of John. The work is constructed of recitatives and choruses, reflective chorales and arias, and is framed by a two choruses, the second of which is followed by one final chorale. Luther College’s Nordic Choir joins Orchestra Iowa to present this monumental work.

(Concert recorded March 24-25, 2012)

The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony performs Mussorgsky’s oft-arranged piano masterwork, Pictures at an Exhibition, in a rarely-heard version made just after the composer’s death. Michael Pawlak, the WCFSO’s principal percussionist, provides an unusual opportunity to hear a live performance of Joseph Schwantner’s celebrated Percussion Concerto.

(Concert recorded March 24, 2012)

Jennifer Frautschi, the Grammy-nominated and Avery Fisher Prize-winning American violinist, makes her Iowa debut collaborating with Maestro Giunta and the Des Moines Symphony in Barber’s tuneful and rhythmic Violin Concerto. The DMSO also performs Tchaikovsky’s great soul-searching last symphony, the “Pathetique.”

(Concert recorded March 10-11, 2012)

Brahms’ melancholy Horn Trio for horn, piano and violin may have been written as a wordless requiem for his mother. The trio opens with a gentle Andante instead of the usual Allegro. Images of nature, represented by the horn, pervade the elegiac mood of the piece. Chamber works by J. S. Bach and Michael Haydn, the prolific younger brother of Franz Joseph, compliment the Horn Trio.

(Concert recorded Feb. 18, 2012)

Orchestra Iowa’s Season of Fifth Symphonies continues with Bruckner’s bombastic and brassy middle symphony. Timothy Hankewich leads the orchestra in their performance of Bruckner’s Fifth Symphony, which epitomizes the height of the German romantic period. The Bruckner Society of America, formed in 1931, promotes the work of Bruckner and helped make this Orchestra Iowa concert possible. The society also presents the Bruckner Medal of Honor, which has been received by such distinguished music directors as Serge Koussevitsky, Eugene Ormandy, and Arturo Toscanini.

Keeping with their Spirit of America season, Maestro Giunta invites Sarah Hicks, Resident Music Director of the Minnesota Orchestra, to conduct an American program with the Des Moines Symphony. The concert includes Barber’s Adagio for Strings, an inspirational work revered for its unsurpassed beauty, and Copland’s lively Billy the Kid. Manny Laureano, principal trumpet of the Minnesota Orchestra, joins the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra for a virtuoso performance of Alexander Arutiunian’s Trumpet Concerto in A-flat Major.

Pianist and composer Timothy Andres gives listeners a glimpse into the creative process as he joins the Waterloo Cedar Falls Symphony Orchestra to perform his own realization of Mozart’s unfinished piano concerto. The opening work Bathtub Shrine, originally commemorating the death of William Harwood, is an elegy composed by Andres for the Yale Symphony. The WCFSO also presents Schumann’s Symphony No. 4 in D Minor, a piece which Schumann himself revised almost 10 years after its completion.

(Concert recorded Feb. 4, 2012)

Orchestra Iowa, led by Timothy Hankewich, warms the stage with the fiery fifth symphony of Sibelius. Pianist and Iowa-native Conor Hanick joins the orchestra for a performance of Beethoven’s fifth and final piano concerto, the “Emperor.” This program both opens and closes with references to the Freemasons: Mozart’s dark and serious funeral music was composed in memory of two fellow Masons, and a signed original manuscript of Sibelius’ most famous work, Finlandia, is housed at the Masonic Library of Iowa in Cedar Rapids.

(Concert recorded Jan. 21, 2012)

Internationally-acclaimed educator and pianist Chiu-Ling Lin comes together with the Des Moines Symphony for an exciting performance of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, orchestrated by Maurice Ravel. Paired with Mussorgsky’s work is a selection from the Des Moines Symphony’s Beethoven: One-to-Nine CD set. This series commemorates the orchestra’s feat of performing all nine Beethoven symphonies during their 2003-2004 season.

Nokuthula Ngwenyama joins the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony Orchestra in their performance of two epic works based on the life experiences of Hector Berlioz, the “bad boy” of 19th century music. Ngwenyama stars on Harold en Italie, a unique tone poem-concerto inspired by its composer’s stay in Rome. The Waterloo Cedar Falls Symphony’s own virtuoso musicians are showcased in Berlioz’s brilliant Symphonie Fantastique.

(Concert recorded Nov. 5, 2011)

Fabio Martino, the dynamic young winner of the 2010 Brazilian International Piano Competition, joins the Des Moines Symphony to make his North American debut on Schumann’s Piano Concerto in a Minor. Schumann’s lyrical concerto and Howard Hanson’s beautiful “Romantic” Symphony are coupled with Chadwick’s spunky Rip Van Winkle Overture to kick off the DMSO’s Fabio Plays Schumann concert.

(Concert recorded Oct. 22-23, 2011)

Jason Weinberger leads the Waterloo Cedar Falls Symphony in a program of musical surprises, which begins with a symphony by Michael Haydn, the lesser-known younger brother of Franz Joseph. Another Michael – Iowa-native Michael Gilbertson – will join the WCFSO for the world premiere of his new work for orchestra, Tragedy Tomorrow. The concert ends with Shostakovich’s surprisingly playful Ninth Symphony.

(Concert recorded Oct. 15, 2011)

Orchestra Iowa is pleased to present one of Beethoven’s most recognized works of the symphonic repertoire – his Fifth Symphony. From those famous first four notes to the climactic ending featuring the debut of the trombone in symphonic writing, Beethoven’s Fifth still captivates modern audiences. Also included is the thrilling Konzertstück for Four Horns by Robert Schumann, which features the Orchestra Iowa horn section as soloists. American composer Aaron Kernis’ gorgeous Musica Celestis for string orchestra opens the program.

The Des Moines Symphony’s opening concert of the season features classical music’s greatest affirmation of the human spirit, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Its “Ode to Joy” finale has moved nations. The DMSO added Copland’s The Promise of Living and The Liberty Fanfare by John Williams to this program to commemorate the spirit of all Americans in recognition of the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001.

(Concert recorded Sept. 17-18, 2011)

Tchaikovsky Gold Medalist Barry Douglas makes his Iowa debut with the Des Moines Symphony playing Rachmaninoff’s blazing third piano concerto. The sultry Danzon by Marquez has become a DMSO audience favorite. The orchestra’s Spirit of America season concludes with perhaps the most quintessentially American work – Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story.

(Concert recorded May 12-13, 2012)

Orchestra Iowa’s 2011-2012 season concludes with a program featuring the music of Dvořák, Bartok and Shostakovich. Dvořák’s Slavic Dance No. 8 is from a series of pieces inspired by Brahms’ Hungarian Dances. Bartok’s Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta is truly a piece that is meant to be heard live, as the strings are divided into two groups and placed antiphonally on opposite sides of the stage. Following a series of works denounced by the Communist Party, Shostakovich delivered a rousing symphony that not only pleased critics, but audiences too.

Maestro Mark Russell Smith, Music Director and Conductor of the Quad City Symphony Orchestra, leads the orchestra in an international collaboration culminating in a large-scale performance of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem. This epic masterwork combines a non-liturgical setting of the Requiem Mass with nine poems by English poet and fallen World War I soldier, Wilfred Owen.

Violinist Miriam Fried joins Maestro Intriligator and the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra for a performance of the Brahms’ Violin Concerto in D Major. Written in 1878, the concerto features a rich thematic material, folk-like melodies and a fiery final movement. The DSO opens the concert with another dramatic favorite, Mozart’s Overture to Don Giovanni, followed by his Symphony No. 39.

(Concert recorded Feb. 11-12, 2012)

The Des Moines Symphony opens with one of Iowa’s most celebrated composers—the three-time Grammy-winner Michael Daugherty. His brilliant and fun Red Cape Tango celebrates a certain superhero from his Metropolis Symphony, and there is nothing more American than being “able to leap tall buildings!” The young American cellist Joshua Roman makes his Des Moines debut and Maestro Guinta conducts his favorite Dvořák symphony.

(Concert recorded April 14-15, 2012)

Select Orchestra Iowa wind players open this Chamber Showcase concert with Arnold Bax’s Elegiac Trio, inspired by Ireland’s 1919 Easter Rebellion. The brief but brilliant Entr’acte for Flute and Harp by French composer Jacques Ibert follows, and Dvořák’s Piano Quintet in A, abounding with Bohemian folk melodies, closes the program.

(Concert recorded April 14, 2012)

It caused a riot at its premiere and later, a battle of words between its composer and the Walt Disney Company. Now, nearly a century after its composition, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring still retains the capacity to shock and move us more than almost any other work in the orchestral repertoire. This third and most revolutionary of the ballet scores Stravinsky composed for the legendary impresario Serge Diaghilev, was written between 1911 and 1913.  The Rite of Spring may no longer set off riots, but it still packs quite a wallop.

Composed for Good Friday services during Bach’s first year at St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, the St. John Passion is a dramatic representation of the Passion as told in the Gospel of John. The work is constructed of recitatives and choruses, reflective chorales and arias, and is framed by a two choruses, the second of which is followed by one final chorale. Luther College’s Nordic Choir joins Orchestra Iowa to present this monumental work.

(Concert recorded March 24-25, 2012)

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