Iowa Arts Showcase

Through short interviews, Jacqueline Halbloom highlights the efforts and activities of non-profit arts and culture organizations throughout Iowa.  She focuses on performing arts organizations, festivals, visual arts organizations, and other cultural centers.  Iowa Arts Showcase shines a light on the contributions of arts organizations to Iowa communities.

Ways to Connect

Scott Arens

If you’re looking for all things opera, you’re in the right place! The Des Moines Metro Opera is preparing to kick off its 47th annual Festival Season.

Susan Bender

The American Gothic Performing Arts Festival will be performing Aaron Copland’s The Tender Land this Friday, June 7, 2019 at 8 p.m. This performance is the opening event of their two-week performing arts festival. Due to the weather, the production will be held at the Temple of Creative Arts, formerly known as the B'nai Jacob Synagogue, located at 529 E. Main Street in Ottumwa.

Anna Steenson

The Zenith Chamber Music Festival is back once again. The annual concert series in Des Moines highlights “national and international guest artists as well as local artists.”

Alisabeth Von Presley

Chaplin is the showbiz musical about the silent film legend the world couldn’t stop talking about.”

The original Broadway musical was written by Christopher Curtis, with help from Thomas Meehan. The musical depicts the life of legendary silent film star Charlie Chaplin.

Revival Theatre Company is one of only two theatres in the United States that will be producing the musical before it “hits the London stage with a new world premiere in 2019.”

Charlie Chaplin is the “undeniable genius that forever changed the way America went to the movies.”

Jeff Gerew

The Des Moines Symphony wraps up their 81st season celebrating Leonard Bernstein this weekend playing Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story. For Maestro Giunta, this is a “personal tribute” to Bernstein, as it was one of the pieces he studied with Bernstein when the two worked together.

The program opens with Rossini’s Overture to Italian in Algiers.

IPR's Jacqueline Halbloom

This week, the Iowa Arts Showcase heads back to the St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Dubuque for their upcoming Aldersgate Heritage service on Sunday, May 26th at 10 a.m.

On Sunday, May 26th, 2019 at 10 a.m., St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Dubuque will host a special service in honor of Aldersgate Day.


This weekend, the wcfsymphony presents their “Turkish Delight” concert on Saturday, May 11th at 4 and 7 p.m.

This weekend, the wcfsymphony is providing an opportunity to hear their winds in a very intimate and unique setting, “just the way Mozart’s audience would have.” They will perform two concerts in the Brown Derby Ballroom in Waterloo.

The program will include “Mozart’s own wind arrangement of his opera Abduction from the Seraglio, along with other party delights from Vienna’s 18th-century Turkish craze.”

LYRA, a vocal group from Russia, is currently touring the Midwest and will be in Iowa on May 5th, 7th, 8th, and 9th.

LYRA is “a vocal ensemble from St. Petersburg. All singers are professional musicians, singing in different churches of St. Petersburg. Some of them are also soloists at musical theatres of the city. Through their performances, they want to introduce enormous musical heritage of the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as traditions of Russian folk music to all people taking great interest in Russia, its history and its culture.”

Courtesy Stephen Hamilton

An internationally famous organist and a Noack pipe organ are all the buzz for this week’s Iowa Arts Showcase.

St. Anthony's Church in Davenport is hosting a concert featuring Iowa native, organist Stephen Hamilton, on Sunday, May 5th at 3 PM.

Courtesy DSM Magazine

Iowa native and internationally-renowned bass-baritone Simon Estes takes the stage with the Des Moines Symphony this weekend for their “Simon Sings Porgy & Bess” concert.

Simon Estes joins the Des Moines Symphony along with Janice Chandler-Eteme, “one of the world’s foremost lyric sopranos,” to perform selections from Gershwin’s “beloved” Porgy & Bess.

University Relations

The UNI School of Music brings Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 “Choral” to Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center.

Courtesy wcfsymphony

This weekend, the wcfsymphony presents their “To the New World” concert on Saturday, April 13th at 7 p.m.

Executive Director Rich Frevert describes the concert as “both a musical and visual delight, as we present the artwork of Gary Kelley and the music of Antonín Dvořák.” The “unique multi-media event will give audience members the inside story of Dvořák’s inspirations during his time in America.”

Courtesy Wheaton College Massachusetts

Author and art history professor at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, Tripp Evans, will be joining the Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre in a pre-opera talk before each performance of The Grant Wood Operas. Dr. Evans is the author of Grant Wood: A Life, a 2010 biography of Grant Wood. Dr. Evans will provide pre-show talks prior to each performance, discussing Grant Wood’s life.

Taylor Fiser Photography

Coming to Cedar Rapids on April 12-14th is the Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre’s world-premiere of The Grant Wood Operas: Strokes of Genius.

Courtesy of St. Luke's United Methodist Church

Home of the 5th largest collection of Tiffany church windows in the United States, St. Luke’s has more Tiffany windows than any other church in the state of Iowa!

The church was built in 1896 and is called “one of the five finest Religious Tiffany collections in the world.” The Angel in the window of the “Angel Among the Lilies” is rumored to bear the likeness of the young deceased daughter of the people who had sponsored that window.

The church’s windows were created by Louis Comfort Tiffany in New York.

Stefan Cohen

The renowned San Francisco Symphony visits Iowa this Friday, March 29, 2019 at 7:30 p.m. in Stephens Auditorium at Iowa State University. Three Iowa natives who are members of the symphony will be returning to their Iowa roots as they perform with the symphony.

The three members of the symphony with Iowa ties are Jacob Nissly, originally from Grimes, John Engelkes, originally from Parkersburg, and Linda Lukas, who studied at the University of Iowa.

IPR has a special treat on Wednesday, March 27th! Former classical music host for KUNI-FM, Peter Hamlin, will be on air from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Peter is a composer who has written works for orchestra, band, choir, chamber ensembles, voice, music theater, and most recently, electronic media. He is also a music professor at Middlebury College in Vermont, teaching theory, electronic music, and composition. He previously taught at St. Olaf College. Peter worked as a radio producer/host at KPBS-FM in San Diego from 1974-1980 and at KUNI-FM in Cedar Falls from 1980-1990.

Louis Comfort Tiffany: Treasures from the Driehaus Collection was organized by  the Richard H. Driehaus Museum  and is toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC.
Photograph by John Faier. © 2013 The Richard H. Driehaus Museum

Davenport’s Figge Art Museum recently opened a new exhibit: Louis Comfort Tiffany: Treasures from the Driehaus Museum.

The show is a “lavish overview of Tiffany’s mastery of color and form in a wide range of materials and decorative styles.”

The Figge’s exhibit showcases 62 exemplary works of Tiffany’s, including small blown glass vases to stained-glass windows and a “spectacular selection of lamps.” The works are drawn from the collection of the Richard H. Driehaus Museum in Chicago. The exhibit is on view now until May 19, 2019.

Annabel Wimer

The Des Moines Symphony’s upcoming concert is a journey to the “New World”: America.

The program highlights an immigrant’s journey to America, featuring Gershwin’s Concerto in F, with Aaron Diehl at the keyboard, Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9, “From the New World” and Peter Boyer’s Suite from Ellis Island: The Dream of America.

The Ellis Island Honors Society recently announced that Peter Boyer will be among the recipients of the 2019 Ellis Island Medal of Honor. This award is “highly prestigious” and is officially recognized by the United States Congress.

The forces of writing and music come together as Chamber Music Quad Cities pairs up with novelist Nathan Hill.

Nathan Hill is an Iowa native whose writing skills came to national attention with The Nix, his “critically acclaimed novel spanning three generations of American life.” The novel is being translated into thirty languages and was named #1 book of the year by Audible and Entertainment Weekly.

Melisa Walker

The Des Moines Art Center is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Fingerman Lecture with a series of lectures by leading museum directors around the nation.

Meche Kroop for Voce di Meche

Waterloo native MaKayla McDonald made Iowa proud when she sang the title role in the New York premiere of Thea Musgrave’s The Story of Harriet Tubman, put on by Utopia Opera in New York.

Des Moines Metro Opera

World-renowned soprano Sara Gartland’s career is soaring!

Ms. Gartland has performed leading roles with the Dallas, San Francisco, Austin Lyric, San Diego, and Des Moines Metro Operas to name a few. Last summer, Ms. Gartland sang the title role in Dvořák’s Rusalka with the Des Moines Metro Opera. This summer, she returns to Des Moines to play the role of Marie in Berg’s Wozzeck.

Celeste Bembry

It’s time to celebrate people like Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Langston Hughes, Ella Fitzgerald, Oliver Nelson, Thelonious Monk, Cole Porter, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, and Jesse Owens – Black History Month is here!

Join IPR in celebrating this annual observance by tuning in on Friday, February 1st at noon and Saturday, February 16th at 8 pm for a special broadcast featuring the UNI Trombone Studio’s performances in IPR’s Studios, under the direction of UNI’s Dr. Anthony Williams.

The Film Lounge

“The Film Lounge” is a series that showcases short, independent films by Iowa artists. The series is a collaboration between The Iowa Arts Council, Produce Iowa, and IPTV.

The series is in its third season this year. The season features topics such as cowboys, astronauts, ballet companies, and music videos, and includes anything from documentary to experimental and narrative to animation.

The Texas Tenors return to America’s Got Talent and their “spin-off” show, “The Champions” this Monday, January 28 at 8/7C on NBC.

The trio rose to stardom in 2009 when they competed on the 4th America’s Got Talent season and made it to the finale. They are considered the most successful music group and the third highest selling artist in the history of America's Got Talent. The three-time Emmy Award Winners, JC Fisher, Marcus Collins, and John Hagen, “take pride in remaining the same self-managed and self-produced ‘three friends with a dream’.”

Courtesy of the artist and David Castillo Gallery, Miami © Xaviera Simmons

Grinnell College’s Faulconer Galleries are bursting with two powerful exhibitions.

Opening this Friday, January 25, is “Reckoning with The Incident: John Wilson’s Studies for a Lynching Mural.” What started in 1952 with a single mural painted on an exterior wall of a building featuring twice-life size figures of a racial-terror lynching at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan is now a complete set of John Wilson’s works. The mural was so large that encountering it must have been very intense and visceral.

Jacqueline Halbloom

Whether January and February are the months you celebrate Valentine’s Day, American Heart Month, National Freedom Day, or Presidents Day, here at Iowa Public Radio, we’re celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Black History Month.

Organizations and universities all across the state of Iowa are hosting events to celebrate the rich history of the nation’s African American community. Exhibitions, concerts, lectures, theater performances, festivals, and celebrations fill the months of January and February.


With a new year comes new adventures and new art and musical events across the state of Iowa! From symphony and chamber concerts, to jazz shows and theater performances, to operas and art exhibitions, Iowa has it all to kick off 2019. Tune in to IPR Classical on Friday, January 4th at noon or listen below to hear more details about these upcoming events.

Close to Home

Dec 10, 2018
John Bloom, Summer Evening (detail), 1936, oil on Masonite, Private collection

John Bloom’s art is a celebration of Midwestern life. It also brought love into his life and an opportunity to study with Grant Wood.

The Figge Art Museum’s exhibit “John Bloom: Close to Home” showcases more than 60 works of art by the beloved local artist. Bloom grew up in small town DeWitt, Iowa. He briefly attended St. Ambrose College before enrolling in the Art Institute of Chicago, which eventually lead him to the Stone City Art Colony. There, he met his future wife Isabel and studied with Grant Wood. He also completed multiple mural commissions with Wood.