Preview the musicians of CMA’s upcoming 97th Season with this brief overview
Whether you are a CMA (Civic Music Association) season ticket holder or have never been to one of our performances, there is a little something for every music lover this upcoming season. From rising stars to GRAMMY-Award winners, there is no shortage of artists worth seeing on the CMA stage.
Compose your own season
CMA offers a variety of season ticket packages, from CMA Unlimited (all 7 concerts) to CMA Flex. CMA Flex grants access to three or more concerts of your choosing. Let this post be a helpful guide as you decide which concerts to attend.
Artists Worth Seeing
Since 1925, CMA has been presenting the world’s most accomplished artists in small performance halls around Des Moines. From Sergei Rachmaninoff and Marian Anderson to Arturo Sandoval and Esperanza Spalding, we consistently bring world-class talent into the concert hall and our schools year after year.
For 49 years, the Fischoff Competition has featured the nation’s top rising chamber musicians. To kick off the season, CMA will host Mixed Media, this year’s winners in the Senior Wind division. This marks the beginning of the organization’s newly formed partnership with Fischoff. The quartet met the summer of 2021 in their saxophone studio at the University of Georgia’s Hugh Hodgson School of Music. In addition to their Fischoff win, the group has gained recognition through other contests like the Coltman Chamber Music Competition in Texas, where they won the Senior Instrumental division. Mixed Media will make their Iowa debut in Des Moines during their Midwest Gold Winner’s Tour this September.
Listen: Mixed Media performs during the Fischoff Competition Semifinals – https://youtu.be/AGVSN88NQ2A?t=1986
The legendary Grammy award winning vocal group, The Manhattan Transfer, will be making one last stop to Des Moines on their farewell tour this fall. The tour commemorates their golden anniversary, and an illustrious music career complete with over 20 albums and 10 Grammy wins. Throughout their time together, the group has explored the sounds of jazz, swing, blues and even pop. The Manhattan Transfer is no stranger to CMA, last performing at Hoyt Sherman Place in 2016 with Take 6. For their final tour, they will be joined by the all-female DIVA Jazz Orchestra. Combining these two music forces will make for one lively and rousing performance featuring many fan-favorites.
Listen: The Manhattan Transfer performs “Birdland” at the International Jazz Day All-Star Global Concert – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E07zZ06uKFg
With a self-titled debut album released in 2020, Wu Fei and Abigail Washburn were quick to receive attention for their unique style. Combining the sounds of the Appalachians with Chinese traditional folk songs, the two have demonstrated music knows no borders. With Washburn on banjo, and Wu Fei playing the traditional guzheng, the pair foster a rich musical conversation that blends their respective backgrounds. Throughout their songs, they weave stories of their cultures, and individual and shared experiences learned through their sacred friendship. Their Iowa debut will be extra special, as it is their only performance together in 2022.
Listen: Wu Fei and Abigail Washburn perform “Four Seasons” at OZ Arts – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bgd1ebFX5V4
Friday December 2, 2022, 7:30 PM at Sheslow Auditorium
Start the holiday season off right with “Cantus: Carols of Our Time.” Formed in 1995 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the eight-member low voice ensemble has spent the past 27 years creating chamber music and touring both nationally and internationally. A full-time ensemble, Cantus has worked to expand the repertoire for basses, tenors, and baritones with a variety of selections ranging from traditional pieces to modern 21st century music. Over time, the group has earned much praise for their “exalting finesse” and “expressive power” (The Washington Post). With an aim to promote the meaning behind a collaborative music process, Cantus’ is comprised of artists worth seeing and their return to Des Moines is sure to be inspiring.
Listen: Cantus performs Franz Biebl’s “Ave Maria” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5M2uD0Y4D4
The globally renowned pianist Garrick Ohlsson will make his Des Moines debut as part of CMA’s Lauridsen Great Pianist Series. At the early age of 13, the prodigious Ohlsson enrolled at the Julliard School of Music, having played piano for only five years. He later made headlines in 1970 as the first and only American winner of the Chopin International Piano Competition. While he is best known for his expert executions of Chopin’s work, Ohlsson has established himself over time as a versatile musician. His immense repertoire boasts over 80 concertos, ranging from Mozart to commissioned modern 21st century compositions.
Listen: Garrick Ohlsson performs Chopin’s “Ballade in G Minor, Op. 23” at the 12th International Music Festival – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YC6jqk-CRY
Named after an intricate style of Japanese woodblock printing “aizuri-e,” the Aizuri Quartet are innovators in today’s chamber world. Consisting of four “distinctive music personalities,” the all-female quartet maintains an integrated approach to their music making. Previous performances have explored incorporating other media forms, including spoken word and cinematography. The Aizuri Quartet defies the centuries old norms of classical music with a heavy emphasis on experimentation and creativity. They will be joined by Syrian clarinetist and composer Kinan Azmeh, who shares a similar passion for contemporary music.
Listen: Aizuri Quartet performs “Carrot Revolution” by Gabriella Smith – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=puZCQJzTy90
Born to a family of Pittsburgh’s leading jazz musicians, Benny Benack III has tread his own path as a triple threat: a trumpet player, pianist, and singer. Benack brings a youthful presence to the genre with his outstanding chops and immense talent. Before the age of 30, the third-generation jazz musician had already released two albums and headlined international and domestic shows at some of the world’s premier venues. In addition to his musical skill, Benack likewise captures audiences with his charisma and humorous demeanor. His intimate performance at Temple Theater will provide a delightful end to a CMA season full of varied talent.
Listen: Benny Benack III Quartet performs “A Lot of Livin’ to Do” from his sophomore album – “A Lot of Livin’ to Do” – Benny Benack III
In addition to our regularly scheduled performances, CMA also hosts featured artists in free educational and community outreach programs. As part of our mission to enrich lives through music, these programs prioritize accessibility by bringing performances directly to audiences. This season’s outreach events are still being finalized, but will consist of a mixture of masterclasses, discussions, and concerts.
With such a variety of artists, CMA’s 97th season is sure to have something for everyone. Consider trying something new, like Abigail Washburn and Wu Fei, or listen to beloved favorites like The Manhattan Transfer. Regardless of your musical background, CMA concerts foster a welcoming environment that unites audiences through the power of music.
Click here for ticket information. Single tickets go on sale July 22.