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Des Moines Symphony announces new guest artist for October Masterworks concerts


Internationally award-winning pianist, composer, and improviser Charlie Albright will substitute for Joyce Yang on October 22 & 23, performing Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

DES MOINES — The Des Moines Symphony (DMSO) today announced that renowned concert pianist Charlie Albright will join the Symphony to performRachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini at the Symphony’s second Masterworks concert set on October 22 & 23, replacing Joyce Yang.

“While we are certainly disappointed that Joyce Yang will not be able to join us in October, we are thrilled to welcome Charlie Albright back for his third appearance with the Des Moines Symphony,” said Joseph Giunta, Music Director and Conductor of the DMSO. “Our audiences may remember Charlie from his most recent, memorable performance of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue in May 2018. Charlie is a talented pianist and improvisor, and I couldn’t be more delighted to bring him back to Des Moines.

Hailed as “among the most gifted musicians of his generation” with a “dazzling natural keyboard affinity” who “made quite an impression” by the Washington Post, American pianist/composer/improviser Charlie Albright has been praised for his “jaw-dropping technique and virtuosity meshed with a distinctive musicality” by The New York Times, and his “extravagance that had showmanship but never felt cheap” with his “ease and smoothness that refuses to airbrush the music, but animates it from within” by the Philadelphia Inquirer.  Recipient of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant and Gilmore Young Artist Award, Albright won the Ruhr Klavier Festival Young Artist Award presented by Marc-André Hamelin (Germany) and the Young Concert Artists International Auditions.  In addition to performing, Albright is sought after as a speaker, masterclass instructor, teacher, and competition judge.  His debut commercial recording,Vivace, has sold thousands of copies worldwide and the first two parts of a 3-part Schubert Series of live, all-Schubert recordings was released in 2017 and 2020. Charlie Albright breaks the “classical” rules of music by connecting with audiences like no other. Through his music, speaking, and unique improvisations that bring music to life, he crosses all genres…and makes it fun.

Albright regularly shares the stage with artists from all genres, including vocalist/conductor Bobby McFerrin, violinist Joshua Bell, pianist Emanuel Ax, and Broadway vocalists Mandy Gonzalez, Scarlett Strallen, and Hugh Panaro.  He has performed five times with revered cellist Yo-Yo Ma: at the honorary degree ceremony at Harvard University for Senator Ted Kennedy; at a 10th anniversary remembrance of 9/11; at the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison; at the Aspen Institute’s Citizen Artistry conference in New York; and with the Silk Road Project.

A firm believer in education, Albright founded the Charlie Albright Scholarship and Charlie Albright Piano in collaboration with the Centralia College Foundation in his hometown. The Scholarship provides financial aid to music students, and money was raised to purchase and maintain a new 9-foot Steinway Piano for the college’s Corbet Hall.

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Born in Centralia, Washington, Albright began piano lessons at the age of 3. He studied with Nancy Adsit and earned an Associate of Science degree at Centralia College while still in high school. He was the first classical pianist in the Harvard College/New England Conservatory 5-Year AB/MM Joint Program, completing a Bachelor’s Degree as an Economics major and Pre-Med student at Harvard, and a Master of Music Degree in Piano Performance at NEC, having studied with Wha-Kyung Byun. He graduated with the prestigious Artist Diploma (A.D.) from The Juilliard School, having studied with Yoheved Kaplinsky. Albright is an official Steinway Artist.

The Symphony’s October concerts begin with William Bolcom’s raucous Ragomania, then Mr. Albright performs Rachmaninoff’s ravishing, virtuosic Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. The program continues with the elegant Symphony No. 2, written in 1775 by the first known classical composer of African ancestry, Saint-Georges. Finally – the colorful, evocative tale of the Firebird will raise the rafters of the Civic Center, bringing the concert to a dazzling finish.

THE FIREBIRD: Sat Oct 22 at 7:30PM and Sun Oct 23 at 2:30PM at Des Moines Civic Center


Single tickets are $15-$70 via (up until two hours prior to performances) and at the Civic Center Ticket Office (515.246.2300), 221 Walnut Street, Des Moines; open 10AM-5PM Monday through Friday and two hours prior to performances. Single tickets, excluding student rush tickets, increase $5 on the day of the concert.

Student tickets are half-price in all sections and are available through the Civic Center Ticket Office with valid student ID. Student rush tickets, subject to availability, are $5 for junior high and high school students and $10 for all other students the day of the concert through the Civic Center Ticket Office. Tickets will be available at the door.


Audiences can experience free Concert Prelude Talks led by Dr. Eric McIntyre, Professor of Music at Grinnell College, before each performance. Dr. McIntyre will discuss the music and composers featured in each concert 45 minutes prior to each Masterworks concert in the Prairie Meadows (East) Lobby.


Find more information, including where to park and what to expect, at 

2022-2023 Masterworks concerts, 7:30PM Saturdays & 2:30PM Sundays at the Des Moines Civic Center (221 Walnut Street, Des Moines IA, 50309). For complete program details, please use the links below:

Visit for complete season details.

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