IPR Music

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Rob Merritt

Puccini’s last opera, Turandot, revolves around the beautiful Princess Turandot and the charming Prince Calaf. Turandot is full of “blood, violence, and fear – but also love and hope.”


The latest album from Weyes Blood is "Titanic Rising," with dreamy and cinematic songs haunted by the fateful tale of that doomed ocean liner.

Meanz Chan / Special To Iowa Public Radio

Lily DeTaeye's first album "Nothing To Say" is a whimsical journey, full of pop ballads and light acoustic tracks like "Footie Pajamas." As she gets ready to release her second album, prepare for something different. 

She's debuting a new single "Hurt You" in preview of her new record which is slated for an early fall release. 

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.

OI Staff

This week’s Symphonies of Iowa show on IPR features Orchestra Iowa with Ana Vidovic on guitar and their “String Theory” concert. The program includes works by Clyne, Rodrigo, Pärt and Dvořák.

The program opens with Anna Clyne’s Within Her Arms, a piece Clyne wrote for her mother. The Chicago Classical Review calls it a “powerful work, a somber, deeply felt meditation on loss.” Next, Ana Vidovic takes the stage with Orchestra Iowa to perform Joaquín Rodrigo’s famous Concierto de Aranjuez.


Thirty-six Iowa artists entered this year's Tiny Desk Contest for a chance to play a Tiny Desk concert at NPR and go on a nationwide tour. You can sort through and listen to all of the entries submitted here. 

We listened through all of the submissions from Iowa, and there were a few that really caught our ears. 

Luther College 2018

A tale of humor, deceit, mistakes, and forgiveness, Mozart’s Così fan tutte is described by the New York Times as his “last and wisest Italian comic opera.”

Così fan tutte shakes up everyone’s ideas about infidelity and devotion in a fun and light-hearted way.

The Luther College’s double cast for Così fan tutte includes:

Fiordiligi – Emily Dirks (Act I) and Natalie Nelson (Act II), soprano

Dorabella – Aidan Spencer (Act I) and Natalie Rumer (Act II), mezzo-soprano

IPR/Madeleine King

The Maytags joined Iowa Public Radio in the Basement at the Des Moines Social Club previewing several songs from their forthcoming album "Meriweather," due June 28th. The band wants to shake things up a bit on the new record. Click and listen for a preview.

The Maytags will be performing at the Des Moines Arts Festival in June and at Hinterland in August. 

Shadow Fox Photography

Drive south from Iowa City, embrace the taste of the gravel dust and make your way to rural Lone Tree. There sits a renovated barn, painted matte black and shaded by a grove of trees.


Jenny Lewis has been making indie rock for more than twenty years now. Yes, she records for major label Warner Bros., but her approach and her many collaborators are firmly indie. 

Courtesy Vakhtang Kodanashvili

Ever wondered what Iowa Public Radio/KUNI/KHKE looks like? Ever wanted to meet the faces of the beloved voices you hear every day on air? Join IPR’s Cedar Falls Studios for their open house on Tuesday, April 23, 2019 from 4:30-6:30 p.m.!

Quad City Symphony Orchestra/Nicolas Propes

IPR Classical's Performance Iowa has a special holiday broadcast this weekend. The Quad City Symphony Orchestra's St. Matthew Passion performance will air on Saturday, April 20th from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

As the finale of their 2017 Masterworks season, the QCSO performed the St. Matthew Passion, one of Bach's greatest masterpieces. It is a "work of depth and drama that expresses the power of sacrifice, metaphorically life’s journey."

University Relations

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

Shadow Fox Photography

Serious Music People: there’s another Sam and Dave that you should know about.

Annabel Wimer

The Des Moines Symphony’s “Ellis Island” 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 renowned pianist Aaron Diehl, 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 is 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.

Des Moines Metro Opera

Inspired by the true life predicament of a refugee stuck in an airport for 18 years, Jonathan Dove’s Flight is one-of-a-kind.

Flight takes an ordinary place – an airport – and highlights the qualities that actually make it extra-ordinary. Dove describes airports as “portals between the everyday world and the magical world of flying.”

The opera will warm the hearts of all listeners. As the plot unfolds, each character's inner conflict leads to the ultimate compassionate conclusion.

The Des Moines Metro Opera cast for Flight includes:



It's good to have many skills, but even better when they synergize. At Grinnell College, John Rommereim conducts choirs, writes music, teaches composition and theory, plays keyboards, and researches musicology. The strands are varied but they weave together into something more than their sum. What connects them, Rommereim told me, is imagination. He explains in this short interview: 


Much can be said about Andrew Bird:  a classically trained violinist, known for his whistling (as befits his actual name), he was in the indie-jazz band Squirrel Nut Zippers in the '90s, and has been releasing his own style of indie music since his band Bowl Of Fire and a solo career that began in 2003.  

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.”

Taylor Fiser Photography

A picture is worth a thousand words, but in the case of the Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre, it’s worth at least a thousand notes!

Just over ten years ago, CROT founder and artistic director, Daniel Kleinknecht had an “aha” moment.

Brooklyn Museum

This week’s Symphonies of Iowa features The Quad City Symphony Orchestra and their “French Moderns” concert.

What better forces to pair up than music and art? The Figge Art Museum in Davenport and The Quad City Symphony Orchestra partnered up last fall to create a celebration of “French Moderns.”

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.


Karen O is a powerful (both visually and sonically) vocalist, and she has fronted the band Yeah Yeah Yeahs since 2000.  She has also done solo projects and collaborated with some interesting people, gravitating toward the artier side of indie rock.  Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse) has been a part of Gnarls Barkley, Broken Bells and Danger Doom, and has worked with many others as a respected producer, musician and songwriter.  Karen O and Danger Mouse met in 2007, discussed working together, and finally got serious about it in 2015.  The project has come to fruition with the new album "Lux P

Des Moines Metro Opera

IPR’s Arias in April savors the Des Moines Metro Opera’s production of Dvořák’s brilliant setting of an ancient folk tale, complete with an unforgiving witch, a gorgeous sea nymph and a beautiful princess.

Dvořák’s gripping opera, Rusalka, often compared to Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, ushers his heroine, Rusalka, through the joys of falling in love, coupled with the heartbreak of broken commitments as the result of several tragic decisions.

Courtesy Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre, Wikimedia Commons

The Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre will soon be performing their own commission and premiere, The Grant Wood Operas: Strokes of Genius. The CROT will present a sneak peek in Iowa Public Radio’s Cedar Falls studios! The CROT’s cast features Jessica Pray, Thaddeus Ennen, Nicholas Nestorak, Jhe Russell, Jessica Grigg, Melanie Long, and Alex Soare, with Haley Stamats as Stage Director, and Pedro Yanez at the keyboard. The vocalists will treat us to an hour of operatic hits and several Grant Wood Operas surprises.

OI Staff

This week, IPR’s Symphonies of Iowa features internationally acclaimed cellist Zuill Bailey and Iowa’s own Michael Daugherty on Orchestra Iowa’s “Tales of Hemingway” concert.

The program opens with Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture, a depiction of the story of Coriolanus, a Roman patrician. Then, Michael Daugherty’s Tales of Hemingway is performed with guest cellist Zuill Bailey.

Des Moines Metro Opera

Kicking off IPR’s broadcasts is a performance by the Des Moines Metro Opera’s 2018 production of Johann Strauss II’s Die Fledermaus.

Die Fledermaus is described as an “effervescent and sparkling confection” that contains “familiar melodies” and “delightful charm.” A tale about a friend who plays a joke on another friend, the story will bring laughter to all listeners.

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.

Jon Lemons Photography (Instagram: jonlemons)

Des Moines-based band The Maytags, who have been blending soul, funk, and jazz for years, are releasing a new album this summer.

"Meriweather," due on June 28th, will be the band’s second full-length album. It follows their first full-length album "Lovelines," and the EP "Nova." The new record is co-produced by lead vocalist and guitarist Dustin Smith and Jon Locker of Sonic Factory Studios in Des Moines.