Founded in 1991, the Des Moines Vocal Arts Ensemble (DMVAE) is a community-based auditioned choir that provides serious musicians with opportunities to seek excellence in a variety of choral literature and styles. Under the direction of Dr. Timothy McMillin—DMVAE’s artistic director and conductor—the ensemble continues to find unique ways to share its music with the community, to encourage the musical development of local youths, and to foster cooperation with other fine arts organizations in the Des Moines area and beyond.
The ensemble serves residents of Greater Des Moines of various ages and musical tastes. The 30- to 40-member choir consists of auditioned
adult singers of various ages, backgrounds and occupations from the Greater Des Moines area. As part of its mission of promoting excellence in performance, DMVAE regularly performs for and with younger singers from Des Moines area high schools and universities. The choir typically performs three to five concerts each year for the general public. During its history the choir has sought to collaborate with other choirs and to provide choral support at significant community events. Examples of this include the following:
- 2002 — Performed at the 9/11 Anniversary Memorial event at Principal Park
- 2003 — Chosen as the World Food Prize Choral Ensemble; performed with the Iowa Youth Chorus, Drake University choirs, and members of the American Guild of Organists in the Des Moines Alliance Concert featuring guest conductor, David Hill of St. John’s College
- 2004 — Performed at the North Central Convention of the American Choral Director’s Association (ACDA); performed at the World Food Prize Awards Ceremony; collaborated with the Drake Choir and Drake University Community Chorus in a cultural concert highlighting the music of Leonard Bernstein.
- 2007-08 — Collaborated with the choirs of Drake University under the direction of guest conductors, Robert Sund of Sweden and Sandra Snow of Michigan State University; performed a joint concert with Valley High School Singers and guest conductor, Ken Fleet, conductor of the London (Canada) Pro Musica.
- 2009-2010 — Performed two holiday concerts with the Des Moines Gay Men’s Chorus at the Des Moines Scottish Rite Consistory in a concert deemed a Datebook Editor’s Choice; participated in an interactive concert and clinic session with the choir of Des Moines Lincoln High School; traveled to Lincoln and Hastings, Nebraska,
performing three concerts for the general public, including a joint concert with the Lincoln Civic Choir; collaborated with the West Des Moines Valley Singers in a concert featuring guest conductor, Matthew Oltman, artistic director of Chanticleer.
- 2011-2012 — Participated in the world premiere of Heaven & Earth: A Mass on the Celtic Journey, written by Des Moines composer, Ben Allaway, and recorded by IPTV for later release and promotion; premiered “Effortlessly” by David Dickau, commissioned in
celebration of the Diocese of Des Moines’ Centennial Year; released “Christmas with Vocal Arts LIVE!”; performed at Bravo Greater Des Moines’ 7th Annual Awards Gala.
- 2013-2014: DMVAE’s outreach event included a collaboration with Waukee High School’s A Capella Choir
in a performance conducted by guest director Sandra Snow from Michigan State University.
The Ensemble collaborated with Orchestra Iowa in a performance of Mahler’s 2nd
Symphony, “The Resurrection.”
- 2015: Des Moines Vocal Arts Ensemble’s President, Daniel Montgomery, commissioned a work in remembrance of a loved one by world-renowned composer Rene Clausen. Clausen’s “Benediction” was premiered at the April 26, 2015 concert in Des Moines.
The Ensemble performed with the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra in the Memorial Day Tribute concert, performing works including John Williams’ “An American Saga,” and Howard Hanson’s “Song Of Democracy.”
- DMVAE was the featured ensemble at the 2015 Summer Symposium of the Iowa Choral Directors Association.