Iowa's Symphonies Make Their Own Music This Season With New Commissions

Jul 3, 2014

Iowa Public Radio’s Symphonies of Iowa showcases an encore broadcast of the wcfsymphony’s “Spaces: Mahler 1 and World Premiere” concert this week. The program, which includes two Canzon by Gabrieli and Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 also features the world premiere of a new work by composer Brooke Joyce called Une Cité Moderne. Brooke currently serves as the Composer-in-Residence at Luther College and is the newly elected president of the Iowa Composers Forum.

Composer Steve Heitzeg with Maestro Joseph Giunta after the Des Moines Symphony premiers Heitzeg’s work “Symphony In Sculpture”. The Des Moines Symphony has commissioned Heitzeg to compose a sequel to that work this season.

Since its inception in 1987, the Iowa Composers Forum has provided an environment for composers to create and perform new music around the state. They have inspired over 800 new works, and have assisted other composers through collaborative commissions, tour recitals, concerts, and student competitions. They also present two annual new music festivals and publish a quarterly newsletter, which features calls for scores and other opportunities to compose and promote their music. Their Fall New Music Festival is slated for early October.

Iowa’s symphonies have been the beneficiary of the Iowa Composers Forum’s efforts to foster an appreciation and love for new music. All across the state, our symphonies are commissioning and offering world premieres for their audiences.

The wcfsymphony is presenting three world premieres this season, showcasing the music of Daniel Gilliam in September, Ted Hearne in November, and Daniel Bernard Roumain in April of 2015.

The Des Moines Symphony has commissioned a second piece from Minnesota composer Steve Heitzeg. They’ll perform his Symphony in Sculpture II in May 2015, commemorating the new additions to the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines.

The Dubuque Symphony has commissioned Justin Merritt to compose a new work entitled Dubuque Dramatic to be performed by the orchestra on their November concert set. Its inspiration is drawn from the people and the spirit of Dubuque.

The Quad City Symphony, this year celebrating its 100th Anniversary, will present a new piece on each of its concerts, five of which are world premieres. A new work by John Frantzen will be premiered in October, and one by James Romig in November, David Gompper in December, William Campbell in March, and James Stephenson in April. They will also play Michael Torke’s Oracle in February, which the orchestra premiered last year.

Orchestra Iowa will soon be releasing their American Gothic recording, featuring their 2013 commission and world premiere of Iowa native and Grammy-winner Michael Daugherty’s composition of the same name.

The Des Moines Metro Opera is programming Jake Heggie’s 2007 opera Three Decembers as part of their 2nd Stages Series this December. Heggie’s work is a chamber opera about a family dealing with the impact of AIDS. The performance is a collaboration with StageWest Theatre Company to promote and support World AIDS Day 2014.

Bravo to the musical leaders in our state who have the vision to commission and perform new works. Seize the opportunity to be a part of this exciting year of new music by attending their concerts as Iowa’s cultural movers and shakers take a leadership role in promoting new music across the state. And please stay tuned as Symphonies of Iowa broadcasts these premieres on Iowa Public Radio Classical.