History

1937: Drake University professor Frank Noyes conducts the first concert of the Des Moines Civic Orchestra, a joint effort between university and community musicians, Nov. 21 at Hoyt Sherman Place. The event follows more than a decade of earlier efforts to form a permanent group, which eventually would change its name to the Des Moines Symphony. Noyes would conduct the Des Moines Symphony for 30 seasons.

1938: The orchestra moves its concerts to Roosevelt High School. Season tickets cost $1.

1944: Margaret Davis chosen as first permanent concertmaster, a position she will hold for 20 seasons until she retires (as Margaret Davis Kew) in May 1964.

1946: The orchestra’s first out-of-town concert is held at the U.S. Naval Air Station in Ottumwa.

1948: Concerts move to the now defunct KRNT Theater in Des Moines.

1951: For the first time, advertisements appear in printed programs.

1953: DMSO Women’s Committee (later DMSO Guild) is officially established.

1954: Concerts return to Hoyt Sherman Place for three years before moving to North High School in 1957.

1967:  Frank Noyes retires, and the baton is passed to a series of conductors, who each lead for two or three years. Wilfred Biel becomes DMSO concertmaster, holding the position for 23 seasons until his death in Sep 1990.

1967-68:  DMSO expands its classical season from four to five concerts per season.

1969: The DMSO Association adopts by-laws, elects a board and drafts a plan to dissolve its official ties with Drake University, which would happen by 1974.

1972: Concerts return again to Hoyt Sherman Place.

1974: Yuri Krasnapolsky becomes the conductor and leads for the next 13 seasons.

1977-78: DMSO more than doubles its classical season from five concerts to six concert-pairs. 

1979: The orchestra moves to its current home at the Civic Center of Greater Des Moines. On Oct. 13, Krasnapolsky conducts the first Des Moines Symphony concert, featuring Beethoven’s Consecration of the House and his Ninth Symphony.

1982: The orchestra performs its first New Year’s Eve concert.

1982-83: DMSO expands classical season from six concert-pairs to seven concert-pairs.

1989: Living History Farms hosts the first of ten annual Popcorn Pops concerts. Later that year, Joseph Giunta becomes music director and conductor.

1991: Jonathan Sturm becomes concertmaster.

1994: The first Yankee Doodle Pops concert takes place on the steps of the State Capitol, starting an annual tradition that attracts an audience estimated as high as 100,000.

2003: The Des Moines Symphony Academy opens in The Temple for Performing Arts.

2012: The Des Moines Symphony moves its administrative offices from the Civic Center to The Temple for Performing Arts.