Throughout the summer months you may hear the melodious sounds of classical string music drifting through the streets of Des Moines. This is all thanks to the Belin Quartet, a group of talented musicians that perform free outdoor concerts every week from May through July. The quartet explores a variety of different works within the classical genre and serves to promote classical music to children by playing an annual children’s concert in addition to visiting local schools. The Belin quartet has rotated between various venues throughout downtown Des Moines, and most recently found its home at the historic Salisbury House and Gardens lawn.
The Belin Quartet traces its roots back to 1999 when the Civic Music Association received a grant from the Iowa Foundation for Education, Environment, and the Arts, a charitable foundation created by David Belin. David Belin was a prominent Des Moines figure, with a notable reputation for his successful law career and passion for the arts. Belin was named one of the nation’s 100 most influential lawyers by the National Law Review. David’s wife, Connie Belin, also supported the arts and was a leader in education and member of the Iowa Board of Regents. She inspired the creation of the Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development at the University of Iowa, a program that has earned national recognition for providing outstanding educational programming for gifted students. As a violinist himself, David sought to share classical music with the community. David’s children have continued his legacy by supporting the Belin Quartet for the past 23 years.
Six talented local musicians rotate performing with the Belin Quartet – violinists, Tracy Engman Finkelshteyn, John Helmich, Jonathan Sturm, & Julie Fox Henson, cellist, George Work, and violist, Rebecca Vieker. Tracy has been playing in the Belin quartet since 2005 and has had a robust career playing with the Winnipeg Symphony and Manitoba Chamber Orchestra and serving on the faculty of several Universities including Northwestern, St. Olaf, Carleton College, and North Carolina State University. John Helmick joined the quartet in 2004 and has had great success as a violinist, serving as Principal Second Violin and Associate Concertmaster of the Des Moines Metro Opera and playing in the first violin section of the Des Moines Symphony. Jonathan Sturm was a founding member of the Belin Quartet in 2000 and has excelled as a violin soloist, chamber musician, and concertmaster of the Des Moines Symphony and as a professor of Music History at Iowa State University. Julie Fox Henson joined the quartet shortly after its formation in 2001 and currently serves as the Assistant Concertmaster of the Des Moines Symphony in addition to creating a highly successful teaching studio in the Ames/Des Moines area. George Work began playing with the Belin Quartet in 2008 and has excelled as a member of the Des Moines Symphony and professor of cello at Iowa State University. The newest addition to the Belin Quartet, Rebecca Vieker, is a noteworthy performer and teacher, playing in ensembles such as the Des Moines Symphony, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Lincoln Symphony, and Sioux City Symphony.
This summer, the quartet is tackling music from Bach, Beethoven, Haydn, Price, Schubert, Mozart, Dvorak, Saint-Saëns, and Mendelssohn. The concert series kicks off on Tuesday, May 24th and plays throughout the summer at 5:30 on the lawn of the Salisbury House (unless otherwise noted). See the concert schedule below:
TUESDAY, MAY 24: Beethoven String Quartet No. 3 in D major, Op. 18
TUESDAY, MAY 31: Haydn String Quartet No. 4 in D major, Op. 20
TUESDAY, JUNE 7: Price String Quartet No. 2 in A major
TUESDAY, JUNE 14: Schubert String Quartet No. 7 in D major, D. 94
TUESDAY, JUNE 21: Mozart String Quintet No. 4 in G minor, K. 516
TUESDAY, JUNE 28: Beethoven String Quartet No. 9 in C major, Op. 59, No. 3
SATURDAY, JULY 2: Dvořák String Quartet No. 12 in F major, Op. 96 “American”
FRIDAY, JULY 15: Children’s Concert, Saint-Saëns Carnival of the Animals, Des Moines Central Library, 10:30 AM
TUESDAY, JULY 19: Mozart String Quartet No. 22 in B-Flat major, K. 589
TUESDAY, JULY 26: Mendelssohn String Quartet No. 3 in D major, Op. 44
While we are crossing our fingers that the weather is sunny and pleasant every week, there is a backup rain location at the Temple for Performing Arts Grand Hall. In the spirit of David Belin, we hope to bring the entire community together to experience the joy of classical music this summer. Invite your friends, bring your kids, and celebrate the historic artistry of the Belin Quartet!