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.

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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 profound, mystical Fifth Symphony. Timothy Hankewich leads the orchestra in their performance of Bruckner’s Fifth Symphony - the aural equivalent of entering a great cathedral; some regard it as the Austrian master's greatest work. The Bruckner Society of America, formed in 1931, promotes the work of Bruckner and helped make this Orchestra Iowa concert possible.

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.

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.

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.

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)

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