Sophia S. Ahmad

MM – Eastman School of Music
BM – Gordon College
Arts Leadership Certificate – Eastman School of Music

Sophia S. Ahmad is Vice President of Public Relations at the Greater Des Moines Partnership. From 2011-2015, she served as Director of Marketing and Public Relations at the Des Moines Symphony and Academy. During her tenure, she oversaw earned revenue and under her leadership, the organization consistently reported its highest subscription and single ticket sales revenue in history. Within her first year, she led a re-branding of the organization, including the launch of a new website and identity, and she executed a comprehensive marketing plan for the Orchestra’s 75th anniversary and the Academy’s 10th anniversary seasons.

As a pianist, she collaborates regularly with Simon Estes, she has recorded for Prentice Hall’s Inside the Orchestra DVD and she has performed with artists from the New World Symphony, the National Portuguese Symphony Orchestra and the Des Moines Symphony, among others. In 2013, she presented a lecture recital entitled Schumann’s Romantic Forest: A Musical Journey Through ‘Waldszenen, Op. 82’ throughout Central Iowa and at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. An advocate of new music, she has premiered numerous pieces and worked with composers including Libby Larsen, Bright Sheng and Simone Fontanelli. Her solo performances have been broadcast on Iowa Public Radio, and in 2012, she made solo appearances at Iowa State University and Drake University, performing the music of Philip Glass. She also appeared as the keyboard soloist in Schnittke’s Concerto Grosso No. 1 with the OSSIA new music ensemble.

Ms. Ahmad is a Presser Scholar and active as a music teacher, performer, critic and writer. At the Eastman School of Music, she taught piano class, and she co-founded and performed in the annual Women in Music Festival. She was invited to make a solo appearance in March 2014 at the tenth anniversary of the Festival, which featured Pulitzer Prize winner Jennifer Higdon as its composer-in-residence. Ms. Ahmad served as the classical album critic for the Democrat & Chronicle in Rochester, N.Y., and for four years, she covered entertainment for The Des Moines Register, where she became the media company’s first digital reporter. Her writing has been syndicated in the Chicago Sun-Times and USA Today, and she was ranked by The Bivings Group for having the third highest Twitter IQ among American newspaper journalists. Ms. Ahmad received several awards for breaking news, innovative digital reporting and extensive coverage of central Iowa’s growing entertainment scene, while establishing herself as an active media personality. In 2010, she became a fellow at the National Endowment for the Arts’ Arts Journalism Institute in Classical Music and Opera at Columbia University. In 2011, she served as a moderator for the Des Moines Public Library’s AViD Author Series and is frequently engaged as a speaker, recently addressing Wells Fargo’s Women’s Team Member Network. She continues to write for the Register as well as dsm Magazine and ia Magazine.

Ms. Ahmad holds a Master of Music in Piano Performance and Literature and an Arts Leadership Certificate from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. She earned her Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from Gordon College in Wenham, Mass., with additional chamber music studies in collaboration with New England Conservatory in Boston, Mass. Her principal teachers have included Edward Ferdinand, Mia Chung-Yee, Anne and Raymond Hanson and Douglas Humpherys. She has appeared in master classes and coachings with Malcolm Bilson, Martin Canin, Ursula Oppens, David Deveau and James Buswell.

She is a 2015 graduate of the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute’s Community Leadership Program, a past member of the Junior League of Des Moines and served on the board of Urban Ambassadors. She currently volunteers for the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute and for the Children’s Cancer Connection, among other organizations. Interact with her on Twitter at @SophiaAhmad.

How I got started playing my instrument

My sister played the piano and I wanted to be just like her!

Favorite composer

Beethoven, Schumann, Bach and Mendelssohn.

Favorite solo piece

Beethoven's Appassionata Sonata and any Schumann character piece.

Other than classical music _____ is on my iPod

U2, Madonna, Tori Amos, '80s rock