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Violinist Gives 47 Years of Service to Iowa's Musical Community

From touring internationally with a professional quartet, to leading an orchestra, to teaching young string players, violinist Allen Ohmes has done it all, and in the process he has made a lasting impact on Iowa’s music community.

Allen OhmesThough Ohmes has lived and performed in the area for decades, the Ohio native never would have predicted a career in Iowa. After college he completed a four-year stint in the U.S. Air Force Strolling Strings, pursued a master’s degree at the Eastman School in Rochester, and worked as a freelance musician in New York.

His love of chamber music and the opportunity to become first violinist of the Iowa String Quartet (later known as the Stradivari Quartet) drew him to Iowa City in 1964. That year he also joined the Quad City Symphony Orchestra in Davenport as concertmaster, a leadership position he has held for 47 consecutive seasons. As a teacher at the University of Iowa, Interlochen Center for the Arts summer program, and other institutions and festivals, Ohmes has inspired hundreds of student musicians.

Ohmes will retire as concertmaster of the Quad City Symphony in May 2011, and the orchestra will celebrate his artistic legacy with a special chamber music concert. After retiring, he plans to continue doing what he loves: playing and teaching in Iowa.