Luther College

As you're reading this, it's likely that someone in Iowa is practicing, memorizing, warming up or rehearsing for a choral concert in December. Iowans have planned over 60 of them from river to river, and we hope to give you a complete listing on this page. 

When Russian-born pianist Igor Levit dropped in to play Beethoven at the Tiny Desk, he admitted he was – even after four cups of coffee – "still in my time zone change." A little jet-lagged, he had flown in from Berlin the night before and hopped an early train from New York to Washington, D.C.

Tim Griffith / University of Iowa

Sarah Cahill has premiered over 60 new works by renowned composers like John Adams, Julia Wolfe and Terry Riley.

Today from 2 to 5 p.m., she’ll share another innovation at Voxman Music Building in Iowa City. She’ll play three hours of music written by women, ranging from 1707 to 2019. Admission is free, and you can come and go as you please, staying for as long or as short as you like.

Wikimedia Commons

On a stormy winter night in 1953, North Sea waters overwhelmed dykes and raged over the Dutch lowlands, drowning 1,836 people. Fifty years later, the flood remained vivid in Dutch memory, and composer Douwe Eisenga was commissioned to write a memorial piece.

He wanted to create a work that honored the occasion but also transcended it and spoke to audiences outside the Netherlands. He succeeded.

Phil Roeder

Week after week, choral singers across our state have been rehearsing diligently. Now, 'tis the season when we get to hear the results. Below is a round-up of Iowa choral concerts in November.

We'll be publishing a December "Big List," too, and we will update the November list as we learn about new concerts.

PersianDutchNetwork / Creative Commons

How can today's artists say something new and helpful about the Holocaust? For Minnesota composer Stephen Paulus and poet Michael Dennis Brown, the key was to focus on children.

In their multimedia oratorio “To Be Certain Of The Dawn,” the pair took inspiration from Roman Vishniac's photographs of Jewish children in pre-Shoah Europe. Brown, a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, says the “children’s faces are the sun, moon and stars of this work.”

Drake University Choirs

For her farewell concert, Drake University choral director Aimee Beckmann-Collier commissioned five new works - and we've got a first listen to one of them. It's a setting of a Rabindranath Tagore poem by the renowned Latvian composer Eriks Esenvalds.

Listen to this playlist on Spotify or Apple Music.

Sven Zacek / Special to IPR

America does things big. Our Super Bowl attracts 100,000 fans and a hundred million TV viewers; New Year’s Eve on Times Square draws a million celebrants. But adjusted for population, these numbers have nothing on Laulupidu, the national song festival of the tiny nation of Estonia that takes place every five years.

Jackie Blake Jensen

"Bach is the father, we are the kids,” said Mozart, maybe. The quote was reported 40 years after Mozart’s death by someone known to make stuff up and otherwise fall short of NPR sourcing standards. But even if it’s apocryphal, what makes it interesting is not who said it but which Bach he had in mind: not Johann Sebastian, but his second son, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. Let's call him CPE (1714-1788).

Courtesy Orchestra Iowa

Orchestra Iowa’s “Mahler’s Titan” concert will conclude the 2018-2019 Symphonies of Iowa season.

Orchestra Iowa’s program opens with Higdon’s blue cathedral. Composer Jennifer Higdon’s commission was premiered in 2000 by the Curtis Institute of Music. She describes her work as “a story that commemorates living and passing through places of knowledge and of sharing and of that song called life.”

Minda Kuckuck

Iowa Public Radio will present a special broadcast of the Des Moines Symphony’s 25th Annual Yankee Doodle Pops Concert to celebrate Flag Day.

At their 2018 Yankee Doodle Pops Concert, Iowa’s own internationally acclaimed bass-baritone Simon Estes thrilled the crowd with musical favorites.

Governor Kim Reynolds narrated the Armed Forces Salute and the “Oh Say, Can You Sing” contest winner, Jennifer Senne, kicked off the show singing the Star Spangled Banner.

Join Iowa Public Radio as we honor our country’s flag this Flag Day.

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.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify and Apple playlists at the bottom of the page.

Jeff Gerew

This week’s Symphonies of Iowa features The Des Moines Symphony and their Season Finale, “Bernstein’s West Side Story.”

The Des Moines Symphony wrapped up their 81st season celebrating Leonard Bernstein by performing his 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.

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.

Barney Sherman

Tune in this afternoon at 1 to hear a live preview of the 2019 ChamberFest Dubuque - including music by founder Michael Gilbertson that the Pulitzer Prize committee praised for its "rare capacity to stir the heart."  Ten years ago, Michael invited some musical friends to join him in his hometown to play a benefit for his alma mater, the Northeast Iowa School of Music. It worked - the School is going strong - and the concert has evolved into the annual ChamberFest, which still benefits community music education in Iowa.

ChamberFest Dubuque

ChamberFest Dubuque’s 11th annual festival kicks off the month of June! As part of the Northeast Iowa School of Music (NISOM), ChamberFest Dubuque features a workshop and a concert. The group performing at the concert is an ensemble of world-class performers, hand-picked by Michael Gilbertson, that exist together only at this year’s ChamberFest.

Courtesy Heartland Marimba Ensemble

Five talented Heartland Marimba Ensemble performers will bring their marimba magnificence to IPR’s Cedar Falls Studios! Wednesday at noon, they will perform music by Gershwin, McCartney, Joplin, Green, Ravel, Coley, and Rossini. The performance is free and open to the public. Tune in to IPR Classical on your favorite device or stop by IPR’s Cedar Falls Studios this Wednesday at noon for this magical live Performance Iowa broadcast!

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.”

Turkish Delight

May 29, 2019
Blake Argotsinger

This week’s Symphonies of Iowa features the wcfsymphony and their “Turkish Delight” concert.

The wcfsymphony provided an opportunity to hear their winds in a very intimate and unique setting, “just the way Mozart’s audience would have.”

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

Courtesy Orchestra Iowa

Orchestra Iowa’s “German Requiem” concert will be featured on this week’s Symphonies of Iowa broadcast.

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.”

Courtesy DSM Magazine

This week’s Symphonies of Iowa features Iowa native and internationally-renowned bass-baritone Simon Estes taking the stage with the Des Moines Symphony for their “Simon Sings Porgy & Bess” concert.

Simon Estes joined 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.

Simon Estes “has filled opera houses from New York City to Paris and beyond.”

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.”

Dubuque Symphony Orchestra

This week’s Symphonies of Iowa features the Dubuque Symphony and their “On Earth” concert.

The performance was the Dubuque Symphony’s first concert of their 60th Anniversary Concert Season.

Drake University Choirs

Aimee Beckmann-Collier jokes that she “had a plan for every minute of her life since junior high.” By age seven she knew she would be a teacher, and by age thirteen she was sure her focus would be high-school choirs. But plans can lead to unexpected vistas.

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.”