All about the Des Moines Choral Society
The Des Moines Choral Society, under the direction of Artistic Director Dr. James Rodde, is made up of auditioned volunteer singers from throughout Central Iowa. With a long tradition in the community, the Des Moines Choral Society is a major force for the promotion of quality choral music in Iowa. The choir was recognized in March 2000 as best Artist/Performing Group by the Iowa Arts Council through their Arts Build Communities award program, and received a Friends of Iowa Civil Rights Award in 2006 for the Iowa Heritage Concert series. [RETURN]
Our Artistic Director
Dr. James Rodde, the Louise Moen Endowed Chair in Music and Director of Choral Activities at Iowa State University, became the Artistic Director of the Des Moines Choral Society in January, 2003. Dr. Rodde's choirs have been honored with performances at distinguished events, including four national and four divisional ACDA conventions. An active clinician, Dr. Rodde has conducted several All-State Honor Choirs, most recently in Wisconsin, Texas, South Dakota, Iowa, Colorado, Minnesota, and Nebraska.
Elaine Millett Wedeking earned degrees in piano performance from William Penn College and Northeast Missouri State University (now Truman University). She completed additional graduate study at Northwestern University, Boston University/Tanglewood Institute, and Drake University. She served on the faculties of NMSU and Westmar College, where she taught and performed regularly both as a soloist and accompanist. In addition to her work with the Choral Society, she is involved in the choir programs at Lincoln High School, Plymouth Congregational Church, and Drake University. Since 2001 she has served as a staff accompanist for the American Suzuki Institute summer program in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. Elaine has been the Choral Society accompanist since 1997.
Des Moines Choral Society Board of Directors, 2016-2017
Leslie Behaunek, President
Aaron Collmann, VP of Member and Concert Services
Ed Collinet, VP of Development
Beth Ann Edwards, VP of Community Outreach
Gordon Smith, Treasurer
Rachel Miller, Secretary
Board of Directors
Dr. James Rodde, Artistic Director, Ex Officio
Vivente!, Megan Barrett & Meisha Sible, Office Administrator, Ex Officio
In December 2009, the Des Moines Choral Society was invited to perform Christmas carols for the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony in the Iowa State Capitol Rotunda. Governor Chet Culver, Lt. Governor Patty Judge, and other state officials were present for the tree lighting and kick off to the annual Toys for Tots toy drive. [top]
The Des Moines Choral Society has a long history of outreach to the larger community, helping to insure that future generations will participate in and enjoy choral music performance.
In 1999, the Des Moines Choral Society inaugurated an educational outreach program, bringing singers of the Choral Society to fourth and fifth grade students in the schools. The first program, Fascinatin' Rhythm, demonstrated the varieties of rhythm found in choral music and gave children the opportunity to join the adult singers in performing several selections. This exciting program served over 900 students in the Des Moines metropolitan area in 1999 and over 950 students in the Des Moines inner-city schools and the community of Pella in 2000.
The educational outreach program continued with Animalia in 2000-2001 and 2001-2002 season, again targeting fourth and fifth graders. In March 2002, the Choral Society singers visited five Des Moines schools they had not visited the prior year, including Smouse Elementary, where the singers worked with kids with developmental disorders. The Animalia program demonstrated how composers write music in different ways in the melody, the rhythm, the words using animals as the main theme. Imagine the sight of over 100 fourth and fifth grade students in class, cheering wildly after singing along with the Choral Society singers. Imagine the thrill of nine- and ten-year-old boys joining along in song with adult tenors and basses!
In early May, 2015 the Choral Society sponsored a 3-day visit by Mack Wilberg, renowned choral composer and director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The visit was in celebration of the choir's 35th season and provided a great opportunity for outreach. During his visit, Dr. Wilberg conducted two workshops: one for area high school choirs held at St. John's Lutheran Church, and one for choral conductors and choir singers, held at Plymouth Congregational Church. Capping the weekend was a performance of Dr. Wilberg's music by the Choral Society at First Christian Church, with Dr. Wilberg conducting the choir, chamber orchestra, and organ. The 'Wilberg Weekend' was a great success, attracting over 800 visitors to the workshops and concert.
The Choral Society could not offer these exciting, in-demand educational programs without the financial support of corporations in central Iowa. Their support demonstrates their commitment to the importance of music in the future of our community. To contribute to this exceptional cause, visit our Donate page. [top]
P.O. Box 31007, Des Moines, IA 50310