Andrea Joynt

IPR’s Symphonies of Iowa is back for the New Year! The season kicks off with the Des Moines Symphony presenting their season debut concert under Joseph Giunta with the dazzling Natasha Paremski at the keyboard. Paremski gives us a breathtaking performance of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1.

Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre

The Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre is invading Iowa Public Radio! Join us at noon on Tuesday, January 12th for several sneak peek selections from the CROT’s production of Verdi’s La Traviata. The CROT’s principal cast features Danielle Talamantes as Violetta, Jason Slayden as Alfredo, and Stephen Gaertner as Germont. Other members include Eric Ferring as Gastone, Erin Bryan as Annina, and Loralee Songer as Flora. The principals and the ensemble will treat us to a few musical gems from their upcoming Paramount Theatre performances of Verdi’s La Traviata.

Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre

The Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre is invading Iowa Public Radio! Join us at noon on Tuesday, January 12th for several sneak peek selections from the CROT’s production of Verdi’s La Traviata. The CROT’s principal cast features Danielle Talamantes as Violetta, Jason Slayden as Alfredo, and Stephen Gaertner as Germont. Other members include Eric Ferring as Gastone, Erin Bryan as Annina, and Loralee Songer as Flora. The principals and the ensemble will treat us to a few musical gems from their upcoming Paramount Theatre performances of Verdi’s La Traviata.

Luther College

Our holiday offerings continue throughout Christmas Day with lovely specials from St. Olaf, the Rose Ensemble, Chanticleer, the Christmas Revels, Christmas at Luther, and a live performance of Handel's Messiah. Here's a complete list for Dec. 25th:

IPR Classical's holiday programming continues December 24th with specials that will add joy to your day.  (There's more to come on the 25th; we'll post those tomorrow.) Highlights include A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols live from the UK, the Spelman-Morehouse Christmas concert from Atlanta, the wfcsymphony from Cedar Falls, Amahl and the Night Visitors from Des Moines, Christmas at Luther, Doug Brown's classic reading of A Christmas Carol, and more. Here's the complete schedule:

So many exceptional classical albums came out in 2015 that reducing them to a "Top 10" came to seem counterproductive - and part of the solution was recognizing that Iowa-related classical musicians deserved a page of their own. Here it is! (The other part was to not limit myself to 10 - here's a link to what I came up with from outside of Iowa.) Below are 2015 releases by musicians who either live in Iowa or were trained here.

Every day, IPR’s sound-engineer extraordinaire Phil Maass solves knotty problems that demand thinking outside the box. So it's not surprising that when I was trying to whittle down my list of classical releases for Charity Nebbe’s year-end show, it was Phil who came up with the fix. Why, he asked, does it need to be the Top 10? Why not 15 or 17 or whatever number it comes out to? [UPDATE: I stopped at 21... see below.]

Danny Wells

Ring in 2016 with Iowa Public Radio’s Iowa Arts Showcase! Our January edition features:

·         Mitra Sadeghpour and Korey Barret revealing details about UNI Opera Theater’s production of Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah

·         Daniel Kleinknecht, delving into the Cedar Rapid’s Opera Theater’s January production of Verdi’s La Traviata

·         The Des Moines Metro Opera collaborating with the Des Moines Art Center on a performance of a staged multimedia production of Schubert’s Winterreise


Iowa Public Radio’s Performance Iowa broadcast of the wcfsymphony’s 2015 Family Holiday concert showcases a performance of the wcfsymphony’s 2015 Young Artist Concerto Competition Winner. Contest winner, violinist Jonathan Wolf, is a senior at Gilbert High School. He will present Pablo de Sarasate’s fiery Zigeunerweisen, Op. 20 with the orchestra. The program includes Howard Blake’s soundtrack to the film classic, The Snowman with soloist Philip Boesen. The orchestra shares the stage with the UNI Children’s Choir to perform seasonal favorites.

"Gallen-Kallela Symposium" by Akseli Gallen-Kallela - Licensed under Public Domain via Commons -

  Jean Sibelius was a father figure not only for Finnish music but for Finland's emergence as an independent nation. His music, with its references to Finnish lore and its awe at the power of nature, was considered old-fashioned by some in the mid 20th century - but today sounds especially relevant to many of our leading composer (and music lovers!).

Barney Sherman

Violinist Sarah Plum won a gold medal at the International Stulberg Competion (other medalists have included Joshua Bell and Jennifer Koh) and went on to become a great violinist - but less renowned than she deserves to be, because she usually focuses on new music, including a CD this year of two concertos composed for her.  But she also can play Vivaldi and Beethoven like a god, as she's de

Sunday, Suzanne Bona - host of Sunday Baroque - will join Barney Sherman on IPR Classical for a year-end pledge special. Suzanne will be heard as usual from 8AM; Barney will take over at 11; then the two of them join together from noon-2PM. (Barney will remain until 4pm). And from 11Am to 4PM, a special thank-you gift will be available at a reduced price: Stile Antico's beautiful new "Wondrous Mystery" CD.


The final broadcast of the 2015 Symphonies of Iowa series begins with Wagner’s Overture to The Flying Dutchman, an opera based on the legendary accursed sea-captain, doomed to sail the seven seas until Judgment Day for his blasphemy. The overture is followed by Debussy’s Nocturnes, an impressionist work that experiments in musical color. The third movement, Sirènes, uses a wordless women’s chorus to portray the mythical Siren’s songs from the sea. 

George Kobreek at

Nicholas Roth - a professor of piano at Drake and a renowned recording artist - is performing Monday at 7:30PM at Sheslow Auditorium in Des Moines. You should definitely take the opportunity to hear this Yamaha Artist live! Meanwhile, you can hear his recent interview with Barney Sherman (and some samples of his playing) by clicking on the arrow below. The Monday-night recital is part of Drake's "Keys to Excellence" series; be there if you're nearby, but meanwhile, tune in to sample Roth's art!

Des Moines Symphony

The encore of the Des Moines Symphony’s Memorial Day Tribute Concert opens with three Copland classics: Fanfare for the Common Man, for brass and percussion; A Lincoln Portrait, featuring the reading of the past president’s famous words by a narrator; and Appalachian Spring, commissioned as a ballet with “an American theme” and later rearranged as an orchestral suite.

Iowa State Center

Ring in the holidays with the arts! This month’s Iowa Arts Showcase features:


The Orchestra Iowa Chamber Players present two unique quintets in their “Fifth Element” encore concert. Principal clarinetist Christine Bellomy performs Weber’s Clarinet Quintet in B-flat Major with violinists Violetta Todorova and Karla Galva, violist Jenwei Yu, and cellist Carey Bostian. Written for clarinet virtuoso Heinrich Baermann, like most of Weber’s clarinet works, it is considered a “pocket concerto” where the strings support the clarinetist rather than share an equal weight. 

Todd Rosenberg

The final broadcast of Yo-Yo Ma’s Quad City Symphony 100th Season Celebration Concert will air on Iowa Public Radio. In honor of this special program, IPR’s Performance Iowa will broadcast Yo-Yo Ma with the Quad City Symphony Orchestra on Friday, November 27th at 1pm.

Iowa Public Radio

Don’t forget to include Iowa Public Radio Classical in your Thanksgiving celebration this year, as we present an encore of Orchestra Iowa’s 2015 Brucemorchestra concert. Our Performance Iowa broadcast will air on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 26 at 2 PM.

David Bazemore

The Quad City Symphony Orchestra’s “Masterworks IV: Musical Cathedrals” encore concert opens with Michael Torke’s Oracle. Commissioned and premiered by the QCSO in 2013, the short thematic work is based on variations of a melody, creating a Copland-esque sound. Demarre McGill, principal flute of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, joins the Quad City Symphony for Mozart’s Flute Concerto in G

Des Moines Symphony

In honor of Veteran’s Day at 11 a.m. on November 11th, 2015, Iowa Public Radio will air an encore broadcast of the Des Moines Symphony’s “Yankee Doodle Pops” concert from July 2nd. The Des Moines Symphony and Maestro Joseph Giunta are joined by Governor Terry Branstad for the Armed Forces Salute. Guest Broadway vocalists Christiane Noll and Hugh Panaro perform favorites from State Fair, The Bridges of Madison County, and The Music Man. The Des Moines Symphony will premiere selections from former Iowa composer Peter Hamlin’s Symphony on a Stick.

Lettuce Turnip

Orchestra Iowa presents an evening of Russian classics in their “Russian Masters” encore concert. The concert opens with Spring from a ballet by Glazunov, followed by Borodin’s Second Symphony. The symphony was composed over a stretch of six years, interrupted by the composer’s work on the theatre works Prince Igor and Mlada. 

Jesse Weiner

With the holiday season kicking into high gear, Iowa arts are heating up. This month’s Iowa Arts Showcase features:

•             The Grout Museum’s newest exhibit, “365 Days and Counting: Iowans in the Vietnam War” with the Grout Museum District’s Historian Bob Neymeyer and Research & Programming Assistant Christopher Shackelford

•                    Michael Oxley, director of Marshalltown’s Orpheum Theatre, outlining several events and exhibits that will open on the weekend of November 13th

Two renowned musicians - violinist Sarah Plum of Drake and pianist Francine Kay of Princeton - are giving a series of concerts in Iowa this week. You can hear them live in Des Moines Wednesday at noon at St. John's Lutheran Church and at 7:30 at Sheslow Auditorium at Drake - but you can get a live preview at 1 PM on IPR! Barney will host them live, as they perform Beethoven's Violin Sonata no. 10 and Bartok's Violin Sonata no. 2.


In their “Fantasia” encore concert, the wcfsymphony creates a unique and exciting experience by combining classic works from both of Disney’s Fantasia movies and playing along to the animated scenes. They perform favorites from the movies, like Dukas’s The Sorceror’s Apprentice and Stravinsky’s Firebird, as well as less familiar scenes, including a deleted scene featuring Debussy’s Claire de Lune. Tune in to Iowa Public Radio Classical on Monday, November 2 at 7:00 p.m. to listen to the magic.


Courtesy of CROT

The final broadcast of the 2015 Opera in October series features the Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre’s production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. It airs on Saturday, October 31 at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, November 1 at 4:00 p.m.

Grinnell College

 In 2008, Grinnell's Jennifer Williams Brown won a major award from the American Musicological Society for her edition of Francesco Cavalli's 1651 opera La Calisto. Want to hear a how performance sounds when it uses her discoveries? You're in luck! IPR will broadcast a recent performance from Simpson College Opera tonight (April 23) at 8 PM and again Sunday at 11 PM.  Brown, who chairs Grinnell's music department and directs its Collegium Musicum, served as scholar-in-residence, dramaturg, musicologist, and coach for this production.

IPR/Tony Dehner

In June of 2014, the UNI School of Music hosted the Midwest International Piano Competition.

Great news: Curt Snook's The Choral Tradition and Michael Barone's Pipedreams will return to our airwaves on Sunday, November 1st! Curt retired on June 30th (after three decades) and has been enjoying some time off - but we're delighted that he'll again be sharing his extraordinary knowledge and love of choral music with our state.