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Stayin’ Alive – Symphonies in Iowa gear up!

The Dubuque Symphony Orchestra with Maestro William Intriligator on Great Give Day 2020
Ronald W. Tigges
The Dubuque Symphony Orchestra with Maestro William Intriligator

For most of Iowa’s symphonies, music is in the air. Don’t miss this opportunity to catch and support local music organizations as they continue to find creative ways to bring orchestral music to Iowans. Whether it’s making virtual concerts easily accessible, returning to the concert hall, or both, most of Iowa’s orchestras have a game plan and are making a comeback.

Des Moines Symphony Orchestra 2020 – 2021 season

On October 1, a smaller version of the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra begins their season at the Grand Hall of The Temple for Performing Arts in Des Moines. Their opening concert is called: Live from the Temple- History & Folklore. The virtual program takes listeners on a 300-year musical journey across three continents. Music director, Maestro Joseph Giunta says, “I am very proud of the creative spirit of our staff and musicians to be able to share great music through the use of technology during this unprecedented time. I have planned a wide variety of music that may not appear on a masterwork program of the orchestra that includes familiar music for smaller ensembles as well as music by underrepresented and minority composers. I also wanted to feature some of our wonderful musicians in the solo spotlight. Erin Brooker Miller, principal harpist of the symphony, will play the gorgeous “Sacred and Profane Dances” of Debussy on this first program. Other music includes living American composer Gabriela Lena Frank’s “Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout,” Bach’s familiar and energetic “Brandenburg Concerto No. 3,” and known as the Ellington of Argentina, Astor Piazzolla’s “Oblivion.”

The DMSO offers online and social channel experiences including: ReMix, Classical Conversations, and #DMSOatHOME with live streams, a listening room, and DMSO articles. The orchestra will also present Live From the Temple programs in November and December. For more information, required pre-registration for free events, and purchasing DMSO concert tickets, please visit To see Maestro Giunta’s preconcert talk go to:

wcfsymphony 2020 – 2021 season

The wcfsymphony kicks off their 91st season on October 3 with a concert paying tribute to the 250th anniversary of the birth of Beethoven. The program will be broadcast virtually from UNI’s Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center. The concert includes movements from Beethoven’s “Septet for Winds and Strings, Op. 20.” Artistic director and conductor Jason Weinberger also incorporates the Viennese tradition of serenade-style music, including movements from Louis Spohr’s Nonet in F Major, Op. 31, Schubert’s Octet in F Major, D. 803, Mozart’s Divertimento in D Major, K. 251 and Berwald’s Grand Septet in Bb Major.

Weinberger has also debuted his new podcast, Radio Hour. Other online events include Executive Director Rich Frevert creating the GBPAC digital backstage unveiling of his The Rich-er Experience and Weinberger holding his pre-concert talk on Facebook, YouTube, and Zoom. Weinberger reveals, “I’m just so excited to get back to making music with my colleagues. And despite not being able to welcome in-person audiences, I love the fact that we are able to use digital means to offer listeners a truly rich and varied experience of Beethoven’s music.”

To find more details about the wcfsymphony’s entire fall season please check

Quad City Symphony Orchestra 2020 – 2021 season

The Quad City Symphony Orchestra will open their season October 3 and 4 with Masterworks 1: Beethoven Symphony No. 1, in celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday. The concert will be available only on the QCSO’s UScreen Digital Access platform and with limited in-person access. The in-person audience will be socially distanced in the hall. The orchestra will also be socially distanced, resulting in about half as many performers on stage. All musicians, crew, staff, and audience are required to wear masks at all times, except for performing wind and brass players. The same conditions apply to all three of the fall masterwork concerts, with the socially distanced seating map in place for all indoor concerts at least through January. All tickets, digital or in-person, will be available online. Both October 3 and 4 concerts will be held at the Adler Theatre in Davenport.

The QCSO’s Masterworks 1: Beethoven Symphony No. 1 opens with “Banner,” Jessie Montgomery’s 200th Anniversary tribute to “The Star Spangled Banner” for string quartet and chamber or string orchestra. The program continues with Beethoven’s “Coriolan Overture.” In addition to Beethoven’s First Symphony, the program also includes George Walker’s early work “Lyric for Strings.” Walker was influenced by Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” and the loss of his grandmother. An amazing composer and trailblazer, Walker was the first African American who graduated from Curtis, the first African American to debut as soloist on Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the first African American to receive his doctorate from Eastman, and the first African American to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1996 for his work, “Lilacs,” for voice and orchestra.

The orchestra is offering Concert Conversations with Music Director and conductor Maestro Mark Russell Smith, host Kai Swanson, and featured artists virtually before the first three Masterworks concerts. These performances may be found only on the QCSO’s Uscreen Digital Access platform.

For more details on the Quad City Symphony’s in-person and virtual concerts, to buy tickets, and to see their educational offerings, go to

Ottumwa Symphony Orchestra 2020 – 2021 season

The Ottumwa Symphony Orchestra begins their season with their annual Symphony Ball on December 5. Their March 6 performance introduces the world-premiere of Nancy McFarland Gaub’s “Violin Concerto in D,” featuring concert violinist and composer Nancy McFarland Gaub as soloist. Three more shows follow, including two fundraisers and a May program presenting string bass soloist Volkan Orhan. OSO’s Board of Directors member and orchestra manager, Patty Babb says, “The OSO concerts include stirring performances of world class repertoire, all under the direction of Maestro William LaRue Jones.”

For more concert details and information on purchasing tickets for the upcoming Ottumwa Symphony season please visit

Dubuque Symphony Orchestra 2020 – 2021 season

The Dubuque Symphony Orchestra’s season starts with an upbeat and festive holiday program showcasing the DSO’s brass and percussion musicians. Music Director and conductor, Maestro William Intriligator states, “The Dubuque Symphony Orchestra is very excited to get back to live, in-person concerts starting in December 2020! These past months we have enjoyed reaching patrons through our ‘Live From Our Living Room’ series on Facebook and with some in-person, outdoor chamber music concerts. Yet starting in December, we will be back to concerts in Five Flags Theater, with safety guidelines in place for the audience and musicians. We look forward to welcoming back our audiences as they enjoy great live music performed by their Dubuque Symphony Orchestra.”

The DSO will present four Classic concerts in February, March, April, and June of 2021. The programs incorporate much-loved selections interspersed with new works, including Matthew Coley’s setting of Scott Joplin’s “The Ragtime Medley,” starring the Heartland Marimba Quartet. In order to accommodate social distancing, the DSO will trim down their ensemble, limit the number of available tickets per concert, cut out intermissions, and add a new matinee performance on Saturday. For ticket ordering information or questions and details on the DSO’s free Facebook “Live From Our Living Room” series, please call the DSO office at 563-557-1677, email or visit

Orchestra Iowa 2020 – 2021 season update

The August 10 derecho that swept across portions of Iowa with hurricane force winds hit Orchestra Iowa’s office building and damaged their music library. This storm struck after music director and conductor Tim Hankewich and his team had already carefully crafted six concerts for OI’s 2020 fall performances. The tough decision was made that all of OI’s fall concerts were canceled.

Jeffrey Collier, Orchestra Iowa’s Chief Executive Officer, reveals their dilemma, “The dual impact of the pandemic and the derecho has created an extraordinarily challenging situation for Orchestra Iowa as we strive to explore creative ways to continue bringing live music to our community. As for damage, a substantial number of the holdings in our music library were damaged or destroyed as a result of broken water pipes. Opus Concert Café, our intimate performance space on the main floor of the Orchestra Iowa building, also sustained substantial water damage, including the electrical panels that house the lighting system for the first floor. Our team is working tirelessly to restore our facilities back to full operation so we can again present transformative musical experiences, and we are confident that when all is said and done, we will return stronger and better than before.”

We all wish Orchestra Iowa the best of luck as they recover from the devastation, rebuild following the derecho, and reconstruct their 2021 concert season. For more details on Orchestra Iowa’s progress, their future plans, and their Arts Iowa Performing Arts Network, please see

Jacqueline Halbloom is a Sr. Music Producer and Classical Music Host