Orchestra Iowa is a century-old performing arts organization that presents a diverse mix of concerts and programs, including symphonic, chamber, and pops. Initially comprised of volunteer musicians, the Orchestra performed its first concert in 1923 and began hiring paid professionals in the 1950s. Rapid growth in the 1980s included the creation of new education programs and implementation of an expanded concert series in the Paramount Theatre, the Orchestra’s now-permanent home. These expansions led the ensemble to become one of Iowa’s largest and most impactful orchestras. After the flood of 2008, Orchestra Iowa’s mission was redefined and new collaborations with area nonprofit organizations began. Since the return of programming after the COVID-19 pandemic, the Orchestra has expanded STEAM engagements, become a Carnegie Hall Link Up partner, and seen expanding audience numbers.
We strive to be a meaningful contributor to the community by providing engaging, entertaining, and educational programs! We believe in the importance of inclusion and continually work to create welcoming environments for all. Orchestra Iowa is an integral part of the cultural strength of Eastern Iowa’s Creative Corridor. Concerts and programming options each season provide artistic and culturally-enriching events in the community. As the only professional orchestra in the area, Orchestra Iowa provides access to exceptional symphonic music for local audiences. An array of programming, including pops, chamber, holiday, ballet, opera, and high-profile guest musicians, supports our core symphonic activities by interesting diverse audiences. A vital part of Orchestra Iowa’s work is in our community schools. With a strong commitment to area youth, Orchestra Iowa provides in-classroom experiences and opportunities for preschool through high school students in the Cedar Rapids and Linn-Mar school districts. Our five diverse programs impact approximately 14,000 area students each year, a number that is expected to grow with Centennial programming. Professional musicians visit classrooms to perform symphonic music, provide instruction, demonstrate the physics of sound production, and incorporate the arts to teach STEM principles. These programs help fill gaps many area schools have in their curricula.