Symphonies of Iowa

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 Mondays at 7 PM.

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

Ways to Connect

Stephane Gallois for Vanity Fair

“For much of the concert, the audience had to remember to breathe…the exhilaration didn’t let up for a second until her hands came off the keyboard.”

Never before had the world experienced a phenomenon like the Harry Potter franchise. The seven-book series gained such popularity that crowds of fans would wait outside of bookstores for midnight releases of the newest installments. The accompanying films were also immensely well-received, due in part to their fabulous soundtracks. The great composer John Williams scored the first three movies, and his themes were woven into the scores for the rest of the films. To date, the franchise has an estimated value of $15 billion, and the films have grossed over $7.7 billion worldwide.

One of the most colorful cultural histories in Iowa belongs to those of Czech heritage. Early Czech immigrants to Iowa settled in farming communities, most notably at Spillville in the northeast corner of the state. Later, immigrants from today’s Czech and Slovak Republics came to work in meatpacking plants, primarily in Cedar Rapids where Czech immigrants first settled in the early 1850s. Many of the Czechs who settled in Cedar Rapids worked in the large Sinclair meatpacking plant.

Marco Borggreve

Russian violinist Vadim Gluzman has been praised for his technical proficiency along with his power and passion. Gluzman joins the Des Moines Symphony as he offers a thrilling performance of Brahms’s virtuosic Violin Concerto in this week’s Symphonies of Iowa encore broadcast. Born in the former Soviet Union, Gluzman studied with several renowned teachers there before moving to Israel and eventually the United States to attend the Juilliard School.

Erik Weiss

Antonio Vivaldi wrote over 500 concertos for various instruments. Today, most people know four of them. The Four Seasons for violin and chamber orchestra can be heard in countless movie soundtracks and TV ads. Many modern composers have been so inspired by the concertos that they have reimagined them in their own style. One such composer is Max Richter of Germany.

You would be hard-pressed to find a person with any knowledge of music who didn’t know of Mozart’s history as a child prodigy. But far fewer know that another young and well-known musician was also a genius. His name was Felix Mendelssohn.

Mendelssohn’s musical talent blossomed at an early age. He began taking piano lessons from his mother when he was six, and at seven was tutored by Marie Bigot in Paris. The great writer Goethe may have been the first to compare Mendelssohn to Mozart when speaking with Mendelssohn’s other teacher, Zelter:

Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 is arguably the grandest, most recognizable symphony of all time. It was, and still is, unprecedented in its scale and presentation of musical themes. Throughout the symphony, he expressed ideas in the styles of nations who had been in conflict with one another. The work was also surprising in its transitions from key to key, the order of its movements, and its extreme contrasts between light and dark. The first three movements gradually build into a joyful finale sung by a massive choir and four vocal soloists.

Portrait by Elias Gottlob Haussmann

Though coffee consumption was illegal in much of Germany during his lifetime, the great composer Johann Sebastian Bach was a known frequenter of Leipzig’s many coffee houses. His famously exuberant personality could have easily been attributed to his avid coffee drinking. So enthusiastic was he about the beverage that he composed a secular cantata about it entitled “Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht (Be still, stop chattering)” better known as the Coffee Cantata.

Grant Wood’s painting American Gothic is second only to the Mona Lisa in terms of significance. The Iowan artist was extremely appreciative of Midwest traditions and culture, which he celebrated in 1930 through American Gothic and many other works. The painting is often understood as a satirical comment on the Midwestern character, and is now firmly fixated in the nation’s pop culture. Yet Wood intended it to be a positive statement about rural American values and an image of reassurance at a time of great dislocation and disillusionment.

One of the world’s most celebrated violinists hails from our own state of Iowa.

Robert Zimansky received his first instruction from John Ferrell at the University of Iowa. He continued his studies with Sally Thomas and Ivan Galamian at the Juilliard School in New York. In 1972, Zimansky packed up his violin and moved to Europe, where he became first concertmaster in Spoleto, Munich, Stuttgart, the Lucerne Festival and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande in Geneva.

Many years ago, the Persian King Shahryar was betrayed by his wife. In anger, he vowed to marry a new woman each day and have the previous one beheaded, so that she would have no chance of being unfaithful to him. A man of his word, he executed 1,000 women before being visited by the young Scheherazade.

In 1830, a young, dashing, rising star named Robert Schumann started studying piano in Leipzig with the well-known teacher, Friedrich Wieck, and moved into a room in his teacher’s house. Wieck’s 11-year-old daughter, Clara, was a gifted pianist and composer who was already giving concerts. The 20-year-old Robert became infatuated with her over time, and after intense opposition and legal battles with Clara’s father, the two were married in 1840 just before her 21st birthday.

Aladár Székely

Composer Zoltán Kodály was one of the world’s first ethnomusicologists. In 1905, he trekked across Hungary to secluded villages to collect folk songs sung by the villagers who lived there. He recorded them on an Edison phonograph, and as a result, preserved an entire culture. He then became fast friends with fellow composer Béla Bartók and shared his methods of song collection with him. The two set out on more musical road trips together, and were lifelong champions of each other’s music.

In the late-Romantic musical world, Wagner’s works dominated concert stages. His numerous operas exhibited a distinctly “German sound” and featured Aryan characters in their lead roles. French composer Erik Satie was one of the first to call for a change for music of the time period. He issued a challenge for a French approach to music, “without sauerkraut!” inspiring the French Six (Darius Milhaud, Francis Poulenc, Arthur Honegger, Georges Auric, Louis Durey, and Germaine Tailleferre) as well as Maurice Ravel.

Photograph of a painting by Ernst Hader

Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique set a new precedent for the symphony. Berlioz wrote his Symphonie to depict “the life of an artist” after he had fallen instantly and wildly in love with actress Harriet Smithson while seeing her in a production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet in London.

Roger Thomas

Jazz and classical artist, Branford Marsalis, of the famed Marsalis musical family, has established a career as a performer of international renown, equally at home in both concert halls and jazz clubs. Growing up in the rich environment of New Orleans as the oldest son of pianist and educator Ellis Marsalis, Branford was drawn to music along with siblings Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason. His first instrument, the clarinet, gave way to the alto and then the tenor and soprano saxophones when the teenage Branford began working in local bands.

jasonweinberger.com

Come join us this Thursday at Iowa Public Radio’s Annual Open House at our Cedar Falls studio! Music Director and Conductor of the wcfsymphony, Jason Weinberger, will make a guest appearance along with the symphony’s guest pianist extraordinaire, Mimi Solomon. Solomon, an American pianist, has been heard as recitalist, chamber musician, and orchestral soloist in the United States as well as in China, Japan and Europe.

robertthies.org

In 1995, pianist Robert Thies received worldwide recognition when he won the Gold Medal at the Second International Prokofiev Competition in St. Petersburg, Russia. No American pianist since Van Cliburn, who won the International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1958 in Moscow, had accomplished such a feat.

Christian Steiner

This week’s Symphony of Iowa features Orchestra Iowa’s Showcase Chamber “A Point of Departure” concert on Sunday, April 16 at 4 p.m. and Monday, April 17 at 7 p.m.

wcfsymphony.org

This week’s Symphony of Iowa features the wcfsymphony’s “Four Seasons II” concert on Sunday, April 9 at 4 p.m. and Monday, April 10 at 7 p.m.

This week’s Symphony of Iowa features Orchestra Iowa’s “American Mystics” concert on Sunday, April 2 at 4 p.m. and Monday, April 3 at 7 p.m.

Cheryl Gorski

Acclaimed by the New York Times as “one of the finest conductors of her generation,” JoAnn Falletta is a much-sought guest conductor and a vibrant presence on the podium. This energetic concert opens with Brahms’s lively Academic Festival Overture. Next, the virtuosic Oasis Quartet plays Bolcom’s Concerto Grosso, a masterpiece for four saxophones and orchestra. Finally, Bruckner’s monumental Fourth Symphony, his “cathedral of sound,” will take your breath away with its blazing power and majesty. Tune in Sunday, March 26th at 4 p.m.

wcfsymphony.org

The wcfsymphony brass section is taking over this week’s Symphonies of Iowa on Sunday, March 12th and Monday March 13th! Bask in the glorious sound of brass and organ with the wcfsymphony brass choir and guest organist Nathaniel Parrish in this special concert. Tune in Sunday, March 12th at 4 p.m. and again on Monday, March 13th at 7 p.m. for IPR’s Symphonies of Iowa broadcast!

PROGRAM

DUKAS – La Péri, Fanfare

MARCELLO – Estro poetico-armonico: Psalm 18

STRAUSS – Feierlicher Einzug

Marco Borggreve / Lynn Goldsmith

Great Russian composers are taking over this week’s Symphonies of Iowa! The Des Moines Symphony’s guest pianist Lise de la Salle is one of classical music’s most exciting young artists. Experience the thrill of hearing Rachmaninoff’s glorious, lyrical Second Piano Concerto performed by this rising star. This all-Russian program concludes with Borodin’s exhilarating Polovtsian Dances, but first, you’ll hear two contrasting portrayals of Romeo & Juliet.

wcfsymphony.org

Break out the glasses and butterbeer for this week’s Symphonies of Iowa! Experience John Williams’ magical music for the sensation that is Harry Potter alongside the symphonic classics that inspired him. The program also features the world premiere of composer and violist Paul Alan Price-Brenner’s electric The Conjuring Wand. That’s this Sunday at 4 p.m. and again on Monday at 7 p.m. for this magical Symphonies of Iowa broadcast!

WILLIAMS – Sorcerer’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban

Miroslav Petrasko

This week’s Symphonies of Iowa broadcast on February 19th at 4 p.m. and February 20th at 7 p.m. features Orchestra Iowa’s “A Night in Prague” concert. The orchestra performs works by Janáček, Mozart, and Dvořák.

Michael Daugherty at http://michaeldaugherty.net

Hearty congratulations to Cedar Rapids native Michael Daugherty on winning not one but three Grammy Awards, for an album that includes a work written for Iowa and first broadcast on IPR. The album, Tales of Hemingway (Naxos 8.559798), won "Best Classical Compendium" for Daugherty and for the performers, the Nashville Symphony led by Giancarlo Guerrero.

Marco Borggreve

This week’s Symphonies of Iowa broadcast on February 12th at 4 p.m. and February 13th at 7 p.m. features the Des Moines Symphony’s “A German Rhapsody” concert. The orchestra performs works by German composers including Wagner, Brahms, Mozart, and Strauss.

wcfcourier

This week’s Symphonies of Iowa broadcast on February 5th at 4 p.m. and February 6th at 7 p.m. features the wcfsymphony’s “Four Seasons I” concert. The orchestra performs Summer and Autumn from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, as well as German composer Max Richter’s versions of the pieces.

Visions Photography

This week’s Symphonies of Iowa broadcast on January 29th at 4 p.m. and January 30th at 7 p.m. features Orchestra Iowa’s “Pastoral Beethoven” concert. The orchestra performs works by Mendelssohn and Mozart, as well as Beethoven’s expressive “Pastoral” Symphony.

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