The Des Moines Symphony Orchestra, celebrating its 82nd season in 2019-2020, 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.

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.

2015

The Symphony launches a three-concert Pops Series to augment its seven-program Masterworks Season. The Pops Season includes the Symphony's annual New Year's Eve Pops and a collaborative concert with Des Moines Performing Arts. 

2018

Spotlight at the Temple, an intimate concert series curated by Symphony musicians, debuts at the Temple for Performing Arts.

2019

The Symphony plays its inaugural season of Water Works Pops, a summer series of free outdoor concerts in the newly constructed Lauridsen Amphitheater at Water Works Park.