Symphonies of Iowa

Sundays at 4 p.m. and Mondays at 7 p.m. on FM Classical

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 and Mondays at 7 PM.

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

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Dan Williams

This week’s Symphonies of Iowa features the Des Moines Symphony’s “Apotheosis of the Dance” concert. The performance includes works by Beethoven and Augusta Read Thomas.

This week’s Symphonies of Iowa features Orchestra Iowa’s “Past as Prologue” concert. The performance includes works by J.S. Bach, Mozart, Prokofiev, and Bolcom.

Orchestra Iowa performs some of classical music’s greatest works spanning throughout history in their “Past as Prologue” concert. Don’t miss this week’s Symphonies of Iowa broadcast on Sunday, April 15th at 4 p.m. and again on Monday, April 16th at 7 p.m.!


BOLCOM             Orphee Serenade

BACH                   Brandenburg Concerto No. 2

This week’s Symphonies of Iowa features wcfsymphony’s “Concertos” concert. The performance includes works by J.S. Bach, C.P.E. Bach, Handel, and Fasch.

Hear Iowa’s finest musicians – your very own wcfsymphony players – in virtuosic music of the Baroque. Jason Weinberger, Isaac-Pastor Chermak, and Daniel Friberg perform solo pieces with small ensemble and the whole group explores the concerto grosso form. Tune in on Sunday, April 8th at 4 p.m. and again on Monday, April 9th at 7 p.m. for this Symphonies of Iowa broadcast!


Jeff Fasano

This Symphonies of Iowa features the Des Moines Symphony’s “Masterworks IV: Stravinsky’s Petrouchka” concert. The performance includes works by Stravinsky, Elgar, and Sibelius.

Chip Peterson

This Symphonies of Iowa features Orchestra Iowa’s “Beethoven’s Fifth” concert. The performance includes works by Mozart, Ginestera, Romero, and Beethoven.

The opening of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is one of the most recognizable motives of all time. Orchestra Iowa’s “Beethoven Fifth” concert also features a performance of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 by guest pianist Miko Kominami, as well as pieces by Ginestera and Romero. Don’t miss this broadcast of IPR’s Symphonies of Iowa on Sunday, March 25th at 4 p.m. and again on Monday, March 26th at 7 p.m.!

This Symphonies of Iowa features wcfsymphony’s “Serenades“ concert. The performance includes works by Mozart, Krommer, Beethoven, and Schubert.

Party like it’s 1799 with jovial music for entertaining written by Mozart and his Viennese contemporaries. Played for you by the virtuosic wcfsymphony winds in an intimate ballroom just like the ones where Mozart partied, the beautiful Brown Derby. Don’t miss this broadcast of IPR’s Symphonies of Iowa on Sunday, March 18th at 4 p.m. and again on Monday, March 19th at 7 p.m.!


This week’s Symphonies of Iowa features the Des Moines Symphony’s “Ritual Fire Dance “concert. The performance includes works by Ravel, Rodrigo, and Falla.

This week’s Symphonies of Iowa features wcfsymphony’s “Gary Kelley’s Nachtmusik” concert. The Halloween-themed performance includes works by Gustav Mahler, Ferruccio Busoni, Hector Berlioz, Johann Sebastian Bach, Antonín Dvořák, and Charles Gounod.

This week’s Symphonies of Iowa features Orchestra Iowa’s “Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique” concert. The orchestra performs works by Sibelius, Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky.

This week’s Symphonies of Iowa features the Des Moines Symphony’s “Masterworks 2: Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake” concert. The orchestra performs works by Wagner, Richard Strauss, and Tchaikovsky.

In September of last year, we released a historical story for the Symphonies of Iowa broadcast of Orchestra Iowa’s “American Mystics” concert. The version that we published was adapted from the Nathan Broder biography of Samuel Barber; the same source used by many major symphonies for their program notes for Barber’s Violin Concerto. However, it has come to light that the Broder version of events may not be accurate. Last year, we published the following:

We regret to inform listeners that due to circumstances beyond our control, this broadcast has been postponed until further notice. We will update the schedule with a new broadcast date when it has been determined. Be sure to tune in next week for the Des Moines Symphony's "Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake" concert!

Lisa-Marie Mazzucco

We regret to inform listeners that due to circumstances beyond our control, this broadcast has been postponed until further notice. We will update the schedule with a new broadcast date when it has been  determined. Be sure to tune in next week for the wcfsymphony's "Project TRIO" concert!

Symphonies of Iowa is back for the New Year! You won’t want to miss our 2018 season debut, featuring the Des Moines Symphony’s “Invitation to the Dance” concert.

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 musician 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.


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.

Ernst Hader - painting

Have you ever had a love song written for you by a significant other? Hector Berlioz wrote his Symphonie fantastique 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. But the piece is far from a crooning ballad.

Rodger 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.

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 an impressive feat.

Timo Andres

At just 31 years old, composer and performer Caroline Shaw became the youngest winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Music to date. But this achievement is certainly not the only impressive bullet point on her résumé. She performs as a violin soloist, chamber musician, and as a vocalist in the Grammy-winning ensemble Roomful of Teeth. The eclectic group performs in the styles of Tuvan throat singing, yodeling, belting, Inuit throat singing, Georgian singing, and Persian classical singing, among others.

Deutsche Grammophon

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.

In 1939, a budding young composer named Samuel Barber accepted a commission for a violin concerto by a wealthy businessman. The businessman’s adopted son, Iso Briselli, was a violin prodigy. That summer, Barber went to Switzerland and composed the first two movements of the concerto. When Briselli saw them, he complained that the music was “too simple and not brilliant enough for a concerto.” Their relationship was off to a less-than-ideal start. 

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. Her energetic concert with the Des Moines Symphony 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.

Rachel Bearinger

World-class pianists are taking over Symphonies of Iowa! Tune in this Sunday, September 3rd at 4 p.m. and Monday, September 4th at 7 p.m. to hear performances by the three finalists of the 2nd Midwest International Piano Competition. On round three of the competition, all of the remaining three finalists had chosen to play Beethoven’s Concerto No. 5 in E-Flat, Op. 73 for their final round work with the wcfsymphony under the direction of Jason Weinberger.

Glorious Brass

Aug 23, 2017

The history of the brass ensemble is a rich, beautiful, and loud one! It stretches from the earliest days of chamber music in the Middle Ages and early Renaissance to the later music of Richard Strauss and the modern jazz band. The brass sound is versatile and unmistakable in our culture.

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.”