April 14, 2015
An instructor shows a young musician finger placement on a violin during a music lesson.
New Music Program For Kids  


The Des Moines Symphony Academy and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Iowa recently launched a new program to bring beginner-level string instrument classes to 16 area youths.  


The Beginning Strings Program seeks to reach children who have limited or no access to music instruction or instruments. Underwritten by Harry and Pam Bookey, the program is modeled after Harmony Project, a Los Angeles-based after-school music program that was recently featured on National Public Radio.


"We recognize the significant impact that quality music instruction has on children's lives and their intellectual development, and ... we are thrilled to partner with the Boys and Girls Clubs to help bring these experiences to their students," says Des Moines Symphony Academy managing director Joshua Barlage.       




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Chef Lisa LaValle and winery owner Dana Brown discuss food and wine pairings for their Winefest

 Prima Dinner.     

Prima Dinner Peek    

By Wini Moranville   


Tickets for those lavish, multi-coursed Winefest Prima Dinners go on sale tomorrow, April 15; expect sales to be swift. According to Natasha Sayles, Winefest's executive director, almost half of the tickets have been pre-sold to Winefest patrons (advance booking is one of the benefits of patronage).


Lisa LaValle, chef at Trellis Restaurant at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, is among the six chefs presenting Prima Dinners. LaValle says she plans to hold the dinner outdoors on the garden's boardwalk, weather permitting.


I recently sat in on a tasting of the dinner's wines, which will be presented by Calcareous Vineyards. The gathering offered a chance for LaValle and winery owner Dana Brown to think about the food and wine pairings for the dinner.


No decisions were made (Lisa collected the half-full bottles for further inspiration), but the wines--including the reds that were rich with full-throttle Paso Robles fruit and elegant structure--will no doubt inspire some irresistible dishes.


Also present was the dinner's sponsor, Rita Perea, owner of Rita Perea Leadership Consulting, who, along with LaValle and Brown, completes the triumvirate of "girl power" for the dinner.


"When the sponsorship opportunity presented itself, I felt like the stars were aligned," Perea said. "I am a successful female business owner and feel strongly about supporting other female-owned businesses, and other females in general."

fyi: Mark Your Calendar   

  • Professionals and community members are invited to the 2015 Herb and Karen Baum Symposium on Ethics and Professions on April 17, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., in Drake University's Olmsted Center (2507 University Ave.). The symposium will cover how people in a wide range of professions can engage in human rights work. Registration for the event is free for Drake University students, faculty and alumni; $32.64 for the public. For more information and to register, click here. In conjunction with the symposium, a free public lecture by former Sen. Tom Harkin will be April 16 at 7 p.m. in the same building; register here.

  • A series of events today through April 18 will mark Polk County Housing Trust Fund's (PCHTF) Affordable Housing Week, including the Housing Matters Symposium April 16; Hawthorn Hill's 6th annual Art & More for Shelter fundraiser April 16; and the Community Walking Tour of affordable housing in downtown Des Moines April 17. Locations and times vary; click here to see the calendar. Visit for more information.

  • ArtForceIowa will open "Consent 2 Create," an exhibit featuring artwork by at-risk youths, at Polk County Heritage Gallery (111 Court Ave.) April 20. The gallery also will host the Consent 2 Create Gala May 21 from 5 to 8:30 p.m. that will include art and music by the youths, a silent auction featuring works by prominent area artists and catering by Patton's Restaurant. Tickets to the gala cost $40 in advance, $45 at the door, and the can be purchased here. For more information, click here. The exhibit runs through June 3.
Sherryl Viars has been named client relations and sales manager at K. Renee.
P.S. Exciting News From K. Renee


Sherryl Viars, a longtime Des Moines marketing professional, has joined K. Renee as the client relations and sales manager. You can meet Viars at a special event the clothing boutique will host April 23-25 that will feature custom creations from Amina Marie Millenary. Stop by during store hours to sip a complimentary mint julep and peruse the collection of one-of-a-kind hats as well as the store's new spring collection.    

P.S.S.  A Creative Hang Out


As most artists know, the creative process can be a solitary--and lonely--affair. That fact spurred local arts advocate Chad Michael Cox to start Art Hang, a new group that meets the fourth Friday of every month (April 24 this month) at the Ritual Café downtown (1301 Locust St.). The breakfast gathering is open to writers, visual artists, musicians and others involved in creative endeavors, says Cox, who recently published his first book, a fantasy called "The Adow," and serves as the group's facilitator. Though Cox says there's no formal agenda, Art Hang helps foster camaraderie as well as ideas and inspiration. "It's an opportunity to share your artistic journey with others," he says. Art Hang begins at 8 a.m. and lasts about an hour; for more details, email Cox at or call 343-7163..



Belle Du Chene is senior editor of dsm magazine.

Wini Moranville, author of "The Bonne Femme Cookbook: Simple, Splendid Food That French Women Cook Every Day," is a food, wine and travel writer who covers the dining scene for dsm magazine. Follow her at All Things Food DSM - Wini Moranville and catch her food segment on Fridays at 6:40 a.m. on KCWI-23's "Great Day" morning show.
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