The Des Moines Symphony Academy aims to provide the very best music education experiences for musicians of all ages. Since its founding in 2003, the Academy has become a musical community of excellence where talented and motivated instrumental students of all ages can learn from renowned professional musicians and educators. This week, Academy ensembles wrap up their 2022-23 season after a year full of wonderful performances and incredible opportunities for students.

Nearly 400 students are hosted each week at the Temple for Performing Arts downtown, where the Symphony Academy supports six youth ensembles (Preludio Strings, Youth Sinfonia, Youth Philharmonic, Youth Symphony, Youth Wind Ensemble, and Youth Jazz Orchestra) in addition to a Beginning Strings Program, Honors Ensembles, Zauberflöte, and private lessons.

Youth Ensembles

Preludio Strings, Youth Sinfonia, Youth Philharmonic
Preludio Strings and Youth Sinfonia, both designed to provide young string players with early ensemble experience, are led by Symphony violinist Matt Meyer. Youth Philharmonic, which is led by Symphony cellist and retired Valley High School orchestra director Michele Senger, is the next step for young musicians in the area, offering a unique orchestral experience for the talented intermediate string player. 

Youth Symphony
The Des Moines Symphony Academy Youth Symphony provides a unique orchestral experience for advanced high-school musicians in Central Iowa. Under the guidance of Joseph Giunta, Music Director and Conductor of the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra, the Youth Symphony provides the only full orchestral experience for pre-professional musicians in the Des Moines area.

Youth Wind Ensemble
The Academy's Youth Wind Ensemble provides motivated and accomplished high school woodwind, brass and percussion students with the opportunity to develop their musicianship and leadership skills through the study of traditional and cutting-edge wind ensemble repertoire under the musical direction of Robert Meunier, Symphony percussionist and Director of Bands at Drake University.

During the 2022-2023 season, these young ensembles performed three concerts in the beautiful Staplin Performing Arts Center in West Des Moines. The Youth Symphony also took the stage alongside the Des Moines Symphony during our March Youth Concerts, attended by nearly 5,000 schoolchildren!

Youth Jazz Orchestra
The Academy's newest ensemble, the Youth Jazz Orchestra is led by Academy alumnus and jazz pianist Nate Sparks. The ensemble provides high school musicians with a progressive big band experience on repertoire surveying historic and current Swing, Latin and Backbeat Jazz styles. During the 2022-2023 season, the Youth Jazz Orchestra has taken Des Moines by storm, providing concerts around town, including performances at Noce and at the Patty and Fred Turner Center. They even had Benny Benack III, an NYC-based trumpet player who was in town as part of Civic Music's season, join them for a few tunes at their most recent spring concert!

Additional Ensembles

In addition to our large group ensembles, the Academy also offers chamber music experiences for upper-level high school players.

The Youth Orchestras Honors Ensembles are invitation-only chamber ensembles coached by Des Moines Symphony musicians. The purpose of these ensembles is to give our high achieving Youth Symphony musicians a unique music learning and performance opportunity. Honors Ensembles serve as music ambassadors for our Academy, regularly performing at schools and other events throughout our community.

Zauberflöte is an elite flute ensemble led by Anne Stein. Selected through an audition process, the ensemble includes up to five flutists. The group rehearses year-round and performs extensively throughout the Des Moines area. Past members include students in flute degree programs and members of college and university ensembles. The “Zauberflöte Experience” is intended to challenge, stimulate and inspire advanced flutists with playing and leadership skills and grow as performers.

The 2022-2023 Symphony Academy season has seen students performing in venues throughout the Des Moines area. Congratulations to all Des Moines Symphony Academy students on another successful year of music and performance. We look forward to seeing you again next year!

Learn more about the Academy