Faculty featured in ‘Concert on the Green’

Jennifer Dostal

Two Iowa State music instructors who have nearly 50 years of experience in the Des Moines’ Symphony between them were featured soloists during the symphony’s pops concert Monday night.

With the new school year just beginning, ISU administration and student government organized the event to welcome students, faculty and staff back to campus.

The event, called Concert on the Green, was moved indoors due to inclement weather.

“The concert will give students a chance to appreciate a type of music they might not otherwise be exposed to,” said Joe Messenger, a professor of music at ISU and a featured soloist at the concert.

“It’s really great we’re opening the school year with the symphony orchestra because a lot of students haven’t heard a symphony orchestra,” he said. “I think most students are unaware how much they would enjoy listening to a symphony orchestra if they just gave it a chance.”

Dave Stuart, associate professor of music and another featured faculty soloist, said he hopes the free on-campus concert will motivate students to attend the orchestral performances at the Civic Center in Des Moines.

“It’s hard to convince students to come down to Des Moines for a concert, so this should encourage them to come on down,” he said.

The orchestra performed a repertoire ranging from familiar pops tunes like John Williams’ “Star Wars” movie score and the Olympics’ theme, “Summon the Heroes,” to more classical pieces by Rossini and Tchaikovsky.

“This musical variety of pleasant, listenable pieces should make most people comfortable during the concert,” Messenger said.

Organizers said the performance was best suited to an outdoor setting because the musical pieces were much shorter than traditional classical pieces.

The Concert on the Green is a new addition to the Des Moines Symphony’s calendar, which includes seven concert pairs of classical music, a series of three pops concerts and additional youth concerts.

Messenger, a 27-year veteran of the orchestra, said the concert and rehearsal shows number about 60 to 65 events a year.

Stuart, a 22-year veteran of the orchestra, said many members of the symphony are music teachers and faculty at nearby schools, though a few of the positions are full-time.

“Playing in the orchestra is really a second job for most of the members,” he said.

Stuart said the orchestra decided to feature the familiar faces of the ISU faculty since the concert will be performed on the ISU campus.

“The orchestra thought it would be neat to spotlight the faculty,” he said.