The Des Moines Symphony Orchestra, celebrating its 81st season in 2018-2019, is Central Iowa’s largest and most active year-round professional performing arts producing organization. The mission of the Des Moines Symphony Association is to enrich, educate and inspire our community by performing great orchestral music.
Led by Music Director Joseph Giunta for the past 29 years, the Orchestra has established an outstanding national reputation as one of the country’s leading regional orchestras, performing a regular series of Masterworks, Pops, Family, and Education Concerts, as well as performing for special events. With the establishment in 2003 of the Des Moines Symphony Academy, the organization is one of only four American orchestras to sponsor an Academy of Music as an integral part of its core mission and the Symphony & Academy together are now the largest employer of professional artists in Iowa.
The Symphony is the principal resident company of the 36 year-old, acoustically acclaimed 2,662 seat Des Moines Civic Center. Performances there on its regular season of seven pairs of Masterworks concerts have included the major works of the orchestral repertoire and collaborations with some of the music world’s most prominent soloists including John Browning, Van Cliburn, Alicia De Larrocha, Simon Estes, Sherrill Milnes, Itzhak Perlman, and Yo-Yo Ma and in 2011, the Martha Graham Dance Company in a special Des Moines Performing Arts presentation.
Under the leadership of Joseph Giunta, the Orchestra has offered a well-received, highly creative and diverse mix of programming and has commissioned and given the world premieres of 20 new works over the last 25 years, including the new groundbreaking work, Symphony In Sculpture, a 30-minute work inspired by the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park. In August 2016, the Des Moines Symphony accepted an invitation by the State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation to perform Peter Hamlin’s Symphony on a Stick on the opening night of the 2016 Iowa State Fair — the very event which had inspired its commission by the Symphony in 2015. The Symphony and Joseph Giunta together received the League of American Orchestras prestigious ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming in recognition of their commitment to contemporary music.
In addition, the Orchestra regularly performs Pops concert specials including its annual New Year’s Eve Pops at the Civic Center and also produces and performs the Des Moines Symphony’s much anticipated annual, free Yankee Doodle Pops concert in July on the grounds of the Iowa State Capitol; which attracts more than 100,000 listeners, the largest single day attendance of any concert event in the State.
All of the Orchestra’s Masterworks programs are broadcast statewide on IPR Classical, the radio home of the Des Moines Symphony.