John Pemble

Arts and Culture Reporter

John Pemble is the Arts and Culture reporter at Iowa Public Radio. In 1989, John began his Iowa Public Radio career in Fort Dodge as a program host for jazz, classical, and contemporary instrumental music programs. He joined Iowa Public Radio’s news department in 2008 to produce arts and culture stories.

John spent ten years as an adjunct professor for Iowa Central Community College’s broadcasting department teaching production and operations classes.

John's favorite public radio program is Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me.

Yesterday world renowned violinist Midori began a week long residency with the Quad City Orchestra where she is holding master classes and performing concerts. Months ahead of her visit young people entered a composition contest where they were challenged to create a piece around a three note motive that also spells Midori’s name.

For 72 years the comic book Superman has told the story about a superhero who hides his identity as a mild mannered newspaper reporter named Clark Kent. Recent issues have a story arc where Superman is traveling across the country trying to reconnect with those he protects. In the newest issue released today the Man of Steel fights crime in downtown Des Moines but instead of being praised Superman's credibility is being questioned.

In two thousand seven the movie "Sixteen to Life" was filmed in the Clayton county town McGregor by Los Angeles based director Becky Smith. Smith is an Iowa native and spent a lot of time this month attending screenings of her film across the state. This weekend her film was shown for the first time in her hometown of Okoboji.

Last week Jazz bassist and vocalist Esperanza Spalding started a worldwide tour for her new album Chamber Music Society. It’s receiving high praise from critics including the jazz magazine Downbeat where Spalding is featured on this month’s cover. One of her first tour stops took her to Des Moines this weekend where hours before her evening concert Iowa Public Radio’s John Pemble found her writing new music.

Next month the Harvester Artspace lofts will open in Council Bluffs and by the end of the year thirty six units will house artists in a live / work environment. It's one of a few dozen artist lofts in the country overseen by Artspace a non profit real estate developer based in Minnesota. Tonight, the public gets their first look at the New Harvester lofts. It's part of an effort in Council Bluffs to use art to stimulate the economy and move the city forward.

Some college kids spend their summers working a part time job, an internship, or going back home to relax but some choose to spend every day of the summer committing to a rigorous training and performance environment. This is the life of a drum and bugle corps member rehearsing and competing across the country from Memorial day through the middle of August. Last night six world class drum and bugle corps competed in West Des Moines including the Colts from Dubuque.

Recording music is often a long process. It's not unusual for each song to have multiple takes, edits, and mixes taking weeks to complete. But a small studio in the Quad Cities keeps the recording process quick and simple and has gained a national reputation.

Yesterday was first day for the third annual 80/35 two day music festival. 17,000 went downtown Des Moines to hear twenty bands on three stages including last night’s headliner Spoon a group that has gained wide popularity in the indy rock and mainstream music world. Hours before Spoon played Iowa Public Radio’s John Pemble talks with Spoon’s lead singer Britt Daniel about how the band’s independent sound is doing well with large audiences across the country.

Tonight when the Des Moines Metro Opera begins its new season it will be the first time a production is directed by someone other than Doctor Robert Larsen. Since he founded the organization in nineteen seventy three Larsen has overseen nearly every aspect of the Des Moines Metro Opera but this year he decided to significantly reduce his role as sole leader.

Leslie Hall is an artist who defies description. When she was a senior at Ames High School she amassed flamboyant sweaters decorated with shiny rhinestones. In 2002 Hall launched an online picture gallery featuring her favorite gem sweaters and quickly gained a large following of fans. Five years ago Hall released her first hip hop music album where she raps about her gem sweaters and her love of do it yourself crafts. She also published several music videos on the Internet many of which have been viewed over one hundred thousand times.

Cedar Rapids- classical music ensemble Orchestra Iowa has several education programs to teach children the basics of classical music. One of these outreach programs, the Pied Pieper series, introduces preschool-aged children to the sound of each section of the orchestra. The season’s series concluded over the weekend as the bass section played popular and classical music for the next generation of classical music listeners.

Today in the Iowa City area there are at least nine theater ensembles and most of them are amateur groups lacking a permanent space to perform. Iowa City's newest theater group Red Door Ensemble debuted this spring and is trying to stand out in an already crowded theater scene.