Des Moines Symphony Orchestra performs at Luther


Joseph Guinta prepares for the performance with the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra.

On Nov. 8, the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra performed at the Center for Faith and Life as part of the Center Stage Series.

DMSO was joined by pianist Jon Kimura Parker in their concert. Parker teaches piano at Rice University in Houston and has released several albums, his most recent being “Fantasy.” This was his first performance with the DMSO.

The first piece that the DMSO played was entitled “Javelin,” composed by Michael Torke and conducted by Music Director Joseph Giunta. Torke wrote this nine-minute piece with three goals in mind: to use the orchestra as a sensational instrument, to use triads, and to be thematic.

Giunta has led the DSMO for the past 31 years. He is internationally recognized as a prominent American conductor for his programming and his interpretations of traditional and new music. He has guest conducted for a number of other orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony and the Minnesota Orchestra.

The second piece was “Piano Concerto in A Minor, op. 16,” which featured the pianist, Kimura Parker. This piece was written by Eduard Grieg, a Norwegian composer. Grieg began writing this concerto after completing his studies at the Leipzig Conservatory in 1863. He composed this work in Sölleröd, Denmark, and it closed the period of his life in which he wrote only large-scale pieces. The concerto features some folk characteristics, but it stylistically resembles that of the German Romantic period. Since it is a piano concerto, the pieces main focus is the piano which plays on the main theme. Goodfellow was excited to hear this piece.

“I am really excited to hear the Grieg piano piece,” Goodfellow said. “It’s not that often that we get a big ensemble that comes to a small school like Luther. It’s cool that we get to hear such big pieces from such a big ensemble.”

The final piece that the DMSO performed was “Symphony No. 8 in G Major, op. 88” composed by Antonín Dvořák. The symphony was composed during Dvořák’s annual retreat to his home in Vysoká, Slovakia. The piece switches from G minor to G major throughout all of its four movements: Allegro con brio, Adagio, Allegretto grazioso, and Allegro ma non troppo. Kailin Jolstad (’23) expressed awe when seeing Giunta conduct without a score.

“That was an amazing performance,” Jolstad said. “I loved when the conductor conducted with no score. The orchestra, as well as the conductor, were very expressive and musical. I also really enjoyed the piano concerto.”

Director of Campus Programming Kristen Underwood said that many people at the concert were students from Decorah high school and Decorah citizens.

“There was great energy coming from the balcony,” Underwood said. “The orchestra members told me several times how much fun it was to play for such an enthusiastic crowd.”

Before the concert began, sponsors hosted a dinner for the DMSO and Luther music students. Students were seated with DMSO members who played their respective instruments, which allowed the students to engage in one-on-one discussions with the performers prior to the show. Luther Symphony Orchestra cellist Claire Goodfellow (‘20) said the conversations inspired her for her future in music.

“We get to see people who have that as their career,” Goodfellow said. “That’s their go-to. That’s what they want to do with their lives.” It’s kind of reassuring that I can still do music when I leave college. It’s also just good to see people doing things that are the same as what we’re doing here, but at a higher level, which is something to strive for.”

Kieran Benson (’22) Chips
Pianist Jon Kimura Parker prepares to perform with the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra.
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