All City Music Festival

Inside the Jacobson Building at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, 106 Des Moines Public Schools students are sitting forward on their chairs, feet planted on the floor, with posture any mother would be proud to witness.

“I want to see your eyes,” the conductor says, encouraging the middle school musicians to position their music stands so they can see both the notes on the page and his hands.

And then Iowa State University Band Director Mike Golemo gets really serious.

“Turn off your cell phones,” he says, “If I see you even glance down at a phone, I’ll take it away.”

The students comply because this moment is what they’ve been working for all year.  The young musicians brought their instruments to the fairgrounds for the 2014 All-City Music Festival.  They were chosen to come here because they are the top performers in their schools.  Working with Golemo and each other is an experience they won’t get to repeat.

In nearby buildings, a 200 member choir and a 100 member orchestra are having similar experiences.

The All-City Music Festival is supported each year by Marjorie Spevak, a Greenwood Elementary alum, whose father helped the school buy a radio in the 1930s so that his daughter and her fellow students could listen to a monthly children’s concert performed by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.  She said her great joy and love of music prompted her to share her resources with the students of Des Moines Public Schools.

The choir, band and orchestra performed a program individually and then they joined together for a finale called, “Let There Be Music In Our Schools.”

The finale was written by Weeks Middle School band director Jim Goodwin, a long time composer taking his first stab at a piece written for chorus, orchestra and band.

“I wrote it specifically for this occasion,” Goodwin said“They needed something tailored for this performance, where great talent meets ‘not a lot of time to practice together.’”

He said he hopes the piece, and the evening in general, will inspire students to carry their music into high school and beyond.

“I hope that they will want to continue in their music education,” he said, “and that they’ll be excited about playing or singing and they’ll stick with it because it will enrich their lives.”

Click here to see photos of rehearsal.

Check out event pictures on our Flickr page.

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