Jonathan Sturm
  • Instrument Concertmaster, First Violin

Dr. Jonathan Sturm has been concertmaster of the Des Moines Symphony since 1991, and the 2020-21 season is his 30th as concertmaster. He is the longest-serving concertmaster in the orchestra’s history and has appeared as a soloist with the orchestra nine times. Besides his violin performing, Jonathan is also a world-touring violist, and for 19 years he performed as a violist in the Ames Piano Quartet with concerts in Russia, Cuba, South Africa, and across the United States and Canada. He has been heard on St. Paul Sunday and Performance Today radio broadcasts and has recorded 11 compact discs on labels including Dorian, Sono Luminus, Fleur de Son, and Albany. His audio/video project entitled Fire and Romance—on which he arranged, conducted, performed, produced, and edited solo and accompanied violin repertoire—was a silver medal winner in the Global Music Awards in 2014.

Jonathan has taught private lessons to numerous violin and viola students in Central Iowa many of whom have won regional competitions and continued their studies at reputed conservatories of music. He was the recipient of the Iowa String Teacher Association’s Leopold LaFosse outstanding studio teacher award in 2018. 

Jonathan has presented at numerous conferences and at universities on music success strategies, financial planning for musicians, assessment tools for the private lesson, stage fright, performing with new colleagues, and Baroque performance practice. His articles in peer-reviewed journals ranging from violin pedagogy to higher education administration. As Professor of Music at Iowa State University, he was the recipient of an outstanding teaching award in 2009 and an outstanding service award in 2017, and he has served as president of the Iowa State University Faculty Senate twice, in 2016 and 2019.

Jonathan first became a professional orchestra musician at age 15, joining the second violins of the Norfolk (VA) Symphony, which has since become the Virginia Symphony. His professional training came from Oberlin Conservatory, The Eastman School of Music, and Indiana University, where he studied with renowned concertmaster Josef Gingold. Prior to assuming the concertmaster chair in Des Moines, Jonathan was acting concertmaster of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra. 

Member of the Orchestra since


Most memorable experience with the Orchestra

I have two. One was performing as a soloist playing Piazzolla's Four Seasons, and the second was working with Yo-Yo Ma to perform Dvorak's cello concerto.

How I got started playing my instrument

The Minister of my church was teaching violin lessons to my mother and suggested to her that I begin as well since I always gravitated toward a musical instrument after school instead of playing sports.

Favorite composer

If stranded on a desert island, I would hope to have my violin and the solo sonatas and partitas by J. S. Bach.

Favorite solo piece

Brahms' Violin Concerto


Occasional golf, scuba diving and furniture refinishing

Other than classical music _____ is on my iPod

Other than classical music, the light jazz of Andre Previn and Diana Krall is on my iPod.