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The music of Iowa includes such notable musicians as Slipknot, The Envy Corps, Radio Moscow, Modern Life Is War, Unknown Component, Bix Beiderbecke and Greg Brown, as well as Meredith Willson, composer of The Music Man, and Alice Ettinger who was renowned enough to perform in Europe in the 1890s. Famed swing era musician and band leader Glenn Miller was born in Clarinda. Iowa is also home to metal bands, Infandous and Black Market Fetus. The city of Walnutmarker is home to the National Traditional Country Music Association (NTCMA), which produces programs for local radio and television in Iowa. NTCMA also operates the Walnut Country Opera House, which is a theatre and home to several halls of fame and museums. The town of Clear Lakemarker is known as the place the Big Bopper, Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens took off from on the day they died; their last performance was at the Surf Ballroommarker. The Escorts (Do's & Don'ts) are one of the first bands to be inducted into the Iowa Rock N Roll Music Association's Hall of Fame.


Clear Lake is also home to the annual Buddy Holly Tribute festival. There is a National Old-Time Country Music Contest and Festival in Avocamarker, which draws upwards of 50,000 people according to the The Country Music Lover's Guide to the U.S.A.. . Iowa is also home to the Iowa Women's Music Festival and the Central Iowa Traditional Dance and Music Festival in Amesmarker. In July 2008, the inaugural 80/35 Music Festival was held in Des Moines, drawing an estimated 30,000 music fans over 2 days.

Garner, Iowamarker has been home to the Bash on the Farm Christian Music festival since 2002. The free concert features regional acts as well as national acts such as Stellar Kart, The Wedding, Keith Tkachuk and the Flying Mongooses, and 3sp.

Music institutions and venues

Music institutions and venues Iowa is also home to the Southeast Iowa Symphony Orchestra, Des Moines Symphony Orchestra, Waterloo/Cedar Falls Symphony Orchestra, Des Moines Metro Opera, Dubuque Symphony Orchestra, Cedar Rapids Opera, Cedar Rapids Symphony Orchestra, and the Northwest Iowa Symphony Orchestra. The Cedar Rapids Symphony premiered in 1921, and continued to perform through the Great Depression and World War 2, one of the few symphonies to perform continually through this period, and is thus the oldest continually operating symphony west of the Mississippi River [2].

The three major University music institutions in Iowa include the Iowa State University School of Music in Ames, University of Iowa School of Music in Iowa City, and The University of Northern Iowa School of Music in Cedar Falls. Other colleges with music programs include Wartburg, Luther, Cornell, Morningside, and Drake, among others. Also, there is the Celtic Music Association of Des Moines. Major venues include the Civic Center of Greater Des Moines.

The Nordic Choir at Luther College in Decorah has performed around the world, appearing in Norway, England, Germany, Russia, Poland, Hungary, Romania, the Baltic countries, Mexico and the Caribbean. The Nordic Choir has also appeared throughout the United States, performing in well-known concert halls as Lincoln Center in New York and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Ethnic musicians and groups

Performing Yiddish and Israeli folks music, the Java Jews are a (Jewish) Klezmer group based in Des Moines. Performed at the 2003, 2004 Iowa State Fair. [See external link]

Foot-Notes of Decorah began playing Scandinavian-American old time dance music in 1991 under the leadership of fiddler Beth Hoven Rotto. Foot-Notes maintains an oral tradition of tunes passed down by old time fiddlers in the "borderlands" around Decorah, Iowa, and Spring Grove, Minnesota, most prominent of these fiddlers being Bill Sherburne, a notable Norwegian-American fiddler who died at age 90 in 1991. Rotto apprenticed with Sherburne and learned his complete repertoire of old-time tunes before his passing. The band continues a tradition of playing for community dances in a rustic 1911 vintage two-room schoolhouse in Highlandville, Iowa, where such dances began in the mid-1970s with the music of Bill Sherburne and his band. Foot-Notes music has been featured on Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa public radio and Norwegian national radio programs. The group was selected to represent the State of Iowa at the Smithsonian Institution's Festival of American Folklife in 1996 and the Festival of Iowa Folklife in Des Moines that same year. []

References Luther College website retrieved May 18, 2007 Northwest Iowa Symphony Orchestra website retrieved October 31, 2007


  1. Byron, pgs. 66-67
  2. Cedar Rapids Symphony
  3. Northwest Iowa Symphony Orchestra

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