Expect to see veteran starter Joseph Giunta on the mound for the symphony's opening innings. No word yet on who's playing first bass.

By Michael Morain

The city’s biggest professional home team opens its season this weekend, with more than 80 players suiting up to clash with the "Titan"otherwise known as Mahler’s Symphony No. 1.

Joseph Giunta will be calling the shots again, in his 30th season, just as he did when the team played the "Titan" in 2008 and 1998 and way back in 1988, when he conducted it during his tryout for the job.
"The Mahler 1 is a signature piece for the Des Moines Symphony and me," Giunta said. "By now, it’s just part of my DNA."

He said he’d conduct it every day if he coulduntil he recalled the time, before his Des Moines days, when he conducted 21 "Messiahs" in 27 days and then 38 "Nutcrackers" between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

"That was the worst time in my life," he said. He was kidding. Mostly.

This weekend’s concerts at the Des Moines Civic Center also include Beethoven’s "Emperor" Concerto, with guest pianist Inon Barnatan, and the overture to "Candide" by the late, great Leonard Bernstein, whose centennial birthday, on Aug. 25, has prompted worldwide celebrations. Giunta was one of Bernstein’s protégés years ago in Boston and now plans to perform his music at almost all of this season’s concerts here in Des Moines.

It’s worth noting that the home team’s definition of "home" has expanded since their head coach first stepped up to the podium. Thirty years ago, almost all the players lived in Greater Des Moines, with a few commuters from Ames.

Now musicians fly in from all over the country. A second violinist is based in California. One of the trombonists teaches at the University of North Florida and another at Georgia State. The tag-team flute section hails from New York, Miami and Washington, D.C.

"Every year, music schools are putting out some of the best talent in the world," Giunta said. "There’s so much talent and so little work that a place like Des Moines can attract some tremendous musicians from all parts of the country."

It helps, he said, that the Des Moines Symphony pays "reasonably well" and offers younger musicians a chance to perform with seasoned pros, including a dozen who have played for the orchestra for Giunta’s entire tenure.

As he put it, "You take that virtuosity and that youthful energy and put it next to a veteran player, and it creates a synergy unlike anything I can possibly describe."

The Des Moines Symphony opens its 81st season at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the Des Moines Civic Center. $15-$68, with half-price and rush discounts for students.

Presented by the Remodelers Council of Greater Des Moines, see 17 homes by Central Iowa remodelers on Saturday and Sunday. Silent Rivers projects include a Victorian gem near Terrace Hill and a gorgeous deck, patio and fireplace in Urbandale. ... Read more »

By Design presents dsmDining —

Five Farms' Irish Cream Liqueur puts an emphasis on the cream, with a cow pictured on a bottle resembling milk bottles of old.

By Wini Moranville

As I mentioned in a recent dsmWeekly story, once I discovered boutique Irish gin, I banged on the door at Ingersoll Wine and Spirits to try to get them to carry my fave, Dingle Gin.

While the fine folks there were unable to obtain that particular brand, they now stock Gunpowder Irish Gin—a stellar artisanal alternative. It’s naturally flavored by botanicals from around the world, including angelica root, coriander seed, star anise, Kaffir lime, and gunpowder tea—and the result is fascinating.

Recently, an entirely different style of Irish spirit made its way to our shelves: Five Farms Small Batch Irish Cream Liqueur. Available only in five states at this point, the product combines triple-distilled Irish whiskey with cream sourced from five family-owned dairy farms in County Cork. When I heard that local chef/restaurateur George Formaro had given it a thumbs-up on his KFMG radio show, "Kitchen Insider," I asked him to elaborate.

"I like that you can actually taste the Irish whiskey flavor, and not just a booze flavor," he said. "Add a quality cream and you have a hell of drink!" I agreed. And, with a beautiful bottle, you have one hell of a gift, too.

Find Five Farms Small Batch Irish Cream Liqueur at Ingersoll Wine and Spirits, Central City Liquor, the Urbandale Fareway, the Price Chopper stores on Ingersoll and in Johnston, and in numerous Hy-Vee stores.

Wini Moranville writes about food, wine and dining for dsm magazine and dsmWeekly. Follow her on Facebook at All Things Food–DSM.

An old saying in design is every room needs a touch of black. And now has never been a better time to find this accent, since jet black accents are being done so very well these days! ... Read more »

Representing 20 countries, the Latino Heritage Festival is billed as Des Moines' largest ethnic celebration.


The annual Latino Heritage Festival returns to Western Gateway Park this weekend: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 23. It features cultural booths, music, dance, art exhibits, food vendors, activities for children and much more. Admission is $5 ($1 for children age 12 and younger). For a schedule of performances and other festival information, click here.

According to organizers, Iowa’s Latino Heritage Festival started 16 years ago as a way to celebrate the 20 Latin countries that are represented in Iowa. Iowa's population includes about 174,000 Latinos, making them the state’s largest ethnic minority.

For a guy making his way in the world 500 years ago, Ferdinand Magellan got around. A bad day in the Philippines put a stop to it. This Thursday, Sept. 20, is the 499th anniversary of his departure on a quest to sail around the world. Only one of his five ships made it.


Historian Laurence Bergreen, who wrote an award-winning book about 16th-century explorer Ferdinand Magellan, will present a lecture on Magellan’s travels Sept. 27, from 7:30 to 9 p.m., at Salisbury House.

"Over the Edge of the World: Magellan’s Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe," was a New York Times "Notable Book" for 2003. It's also in development as a motion picture and is now in its 28th printing. A Harvard graduate, Bergreen lives in New York City.

Almost to the day, Bergreen's lecture comes just one year before the 500th anniversary of Magellan’s departure on his last and most celebrated voyage. Click here for additional information and to register for admission ($10).

Ramsey Lewis brings "A Night of Chicago Jazz" to Hoyt Sherman Place Sept. 28, with jazz singer Ann Hampton Callaway.


Jazz legend Ramsey Lewis will perform with singer Ann Hampton Callaway Sept. 28 at Hoyt Sherman Place. They’ll be backed by a quintet of veteran jazz musicians in this 7:30 p.m. performance, presented by Des Moines’ Civic Music Association.

A composer, pianist, radio personality and three-time Grammy winner, Lewis has released more than 80 albums since 1965. Callaway, who was recently voted Performer of the Year by, is also an award-winning songwriter.

Tickets, ranging in price from $30 to $70, are available through the Hoyt Sherman box office or online here.

Canadian Shawn Mendez has Des Moines on his calendar for next year.


Tickets are now available to see Shawn Mendez, performing June 22, 2019, at the Iowa Events Center. For other fun opportunities, explore a pair of easy-to-use online calendars. We at dsm magazine and the Business Record maintain this calendar with handy filters so you can see just the types of events you're searching for. For even more categories, check Catch Des Moines.

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