Donor Spotlight: Jim and Martha Fifield

By September 14, 2021 No Comments

What do you love about CMA?

What’s not to love? CMA has long served an important role in bringing world-class music to the Des Moines and Central Iowa community. A glance through the year-by-year listing of CMA performers underscores that point. At the same time, CMA has adapted to changing times and audiences both in terms of its mix of offerings and its venues. The intimacy of the Sheslow concerts fosters a special rapport between artist and audience. Moving bigger ensembles to Hoyt Sherman allows CMA to expand its offerings. Above all, CMA’s public education mission – letting local students meet and learn from these talented visiting musicians – is the thing we love most about CMA.

How did you get involved with CMA?

Dear friends invited us to order season tickets with them in the mid 90s. That’s been a great reminder of the importance of inviting friends to discover CMA and all its offerings.
What is your first memory of a CMA concert? We were dedicated fans of WOI-FM’s Don Forsling’s “The Morning Report,” a program that introduced us to the musicianship and humor of Bolcom and Morris. (Google “Lime Jello, Marshmallow, Cottage Cheese Surprise.”) The 1995 Civic Center concert by that husband-and-wife duo was the first Civic Music performance we attended, and it didn’t disappoint.

What is your favorite recent CMA concert and why?

What a tough question! The chance to experience up close the genius of Philip Glass; a Valentine’s Day gift of Nnenna Freelon and Earl Klugh’s musical friendship; this past season’s charm of Cyrille Aimee and joyful energy of Time for Three; jazz trumpeter Arturo Sandoval revealing his piano insights; Richard Stolzman and son’s plaintive clarinets; an eclectic evening with Quartetto Gelato; the threads of humor and musicianship woven throughout a remarkable cross-over collaboration among Joshua Bell, Edgar Meyer, Sam Bush and Mike Marshall…and that’s just a start.

What might someone be surprised to know about you?

Thanks to an assignment during Jim’s work with Principal, we had the opportunity to live in Central London for 10 weeks in 2011. While there, we took advantage of every chance to catch live musical and theatrical performances. The highlight was a concert commemorating St. Paul’s Cathedral’s 300 th anniversary, which opened with Sir John Rutter conducting combined choirs in Handel’s “Zadok the Priest” and was capped by a bone-rattling rendition of Widor’s Toccata in F for pipe organ.

What are some of the things you like to do outside of coming to CMA concerts?

Spend time with our children and granddaughters, travel, read, walk, garden, keep up on current events, cheer on the Cyclones, and enjoy the amazing array of Des Moines dining options, including before and after CMA concerts.

Why do you choose to support CMA?

CMA brings talented, and richly diverse performers to Des Moines. Better yet, it shares those performers not just with CMA audiences, but also with Des Moines metro area students via workshops, master classes, and the like. Through CMA, our young son had the unforgettable opportunity to listen to Bela Fleck and Edgar Meyer (casually seated on the edge of the stage, legs dangling), as they shared insights into their collaborative process, followed by Fleck’s memorable description of musical improvisation as “…akin to riding a bicycle full speed downhill through a forest while blindfolded?” That dedication to creating such up close and personal opportunities to inspire young, diverse artists in the community truly is what sets CMA apart from the pack.

What motivates you to stay involved with CMA?  

The varied programming, the unique mix of rising and long-recognized world-class performers from the classical and jazz genres, and the chance to introduce others to one of the institutions that enrich Des Moines’ life.

In your opinion, what is the most important work this organization does?

In the 1930s, Jim’s mom was very involved with the Chautauqua movement, which was aimed at civic enlightenment, bringing talented musical and theatrical performers, along with notable lecturers to communities around America. In many ways, CMA embodies today’s version of many of those Chautauqua ideals. The remarkable list of artists who’ve performed for Des Moines audiences during CMA’s more than 90-year life speaks for itself. The lasting impact on students and audiences who’ve had the chance to enjoy and learn from those artists is immeasurable.

What other organizations or causes do you support?

DMARC Food Pantry, Des Moines Intentional Eucharistic Community, Iowa Food Coop, United Way of Central Iowa.

Do you have a message you’d like to share?  

These are incredibly challenging economic times for funding of live performance. We shouldn’t allow ours to be the last generation to have full access. CMA is a welcoming organization, in that you don’t need to be a long-time resident or rich to make an impact. Anyone can help continue CMA’s legacy of bringing creative collaborations and diverse music and artists to our community, thus allowing new generations to experience the magical connection between artist and audience that happens only via live performance.

Leave a Reply