The Zenith Chamber Music Festival (ZCMF) is a free annual summer concert series that brings together professional musicians from around the world, as well as local artists, to perform in diverse and unique venues in Des Moines, Iowa. The festival aims to enhance the arts in the community through innovative and diverse programming, interactive community outreach, and creative partnerships with local and regional organizations. Thanks to the support of Drake University and wonderful donors from the community, ZCMF is dedicated to making high-quality chamber music more accessible to the community and emerging student musicians.
The mission of the Zenith Chamber Music Festival (ZCMF) is to break down barriers and bridge gaps in the classical music world by providing engaging and diverse music programming and performances to the Des Moines community through our accessible free concert series. We aim to increase accessibility to world-class local and international artists by showcasing them in unique venues throughout the area.
For more information, contact Dr. Ashley Sidon by phone 515-271-2887 or email.
Respected as both a soloist and chamber musician, Ashley Sandor Sidon is the Briggs Endowed Professor of Cello at Drake University and Executive Director of the Zenith Chamber Music Festival. As an invited performer and clinician, Sidon’s credits include international solo performances across China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Canada, Taiwan, Italy, Germany, France, Poland, and Brazil. Nationally, her performances as a chamber musician and orchestral soloist have taken her to the leading universities, chamber music festivals, and concert stages from Maine to California.
Zenith Director Joyce Beyer holds a Bachelor of Music in Education and Master of Arts focused in string pedagogy from the University of Northern Iowa and is a passionate advocate for equitable access to strong music programs for all students. Joyce is the Orchestra Director at Valley High School in West Des Moines Community Schools and a Teaching Artist of Violin and Viola at Drake University. Outside educational roles, Joyce frequently performs with her string quartet, Quartet 515, and the Des Moines Symphony.
Anna Steenson is a visual storyteller dedicated to amplifying and uplifting stories in the Des Moines community. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Music and Digital Media Production and is pursuing her Master’s degree in Communication Leadership from Drake University. When she is not working on documentaries, photography, and graphic design, she performs with her sister in a musical ensemble, ClearJoy.
Xavier is a Cellist and Educator in the Des Moines Metro who is passionate about connecting people of all ages through music and learning. He holds a Bachelor of Music in Education from Drake University and is currently an orchestra director at Valley Southwoods and Valley High Schools. He maintains active private studios independently and at the Des Moines Symphony Academy and gigs and performs locally with several ensembles.
Sandy Tatge is an avid music educator and performer. Some of her career highlights include performing as a cellist with the Des Moines Symphony for 53 years, teaching orchestra in the Des Moines Public Schools for 27 years, serving as an adjunct cello instructor at Drake University and Simpson College, as well as being an integral part of various music festivals and competitions. She maintains a private cello studio and has been a respected private instructor in the Des Moines area for 50 years.
Elaina Steenson is both a skilled lawyer and accomplished musician. She practices law as a public defender in Iowa, specializing in wrongful conviction cases. Simultaneously, she’s deeply involved in the music world, teaching violin, viola, piano, and ukulele. She sings with the Des Moines Choral Society and enjoys performing in the ClearJoy duo with her sister. She was Zenith’s first intern during the 2015 inaugural season.
Natalie Steenson holds a BA degree in music and religion. She teaches early childhood classes at the Montessori Children’s House in West Des Moines, has a private piano studio, and is the Director of Music and Arts Ministry at Windsor Presbyterian Church. She is a rostered teaching artist for ASAP and CultureALL and enjoys singing with the Des Moines Choral Society.
Laura Agüero, Director of Development, 4word. Laura started her career as an opera singer and voice teacher. After a decade in the music field, she realized that she had gifts in development, so she moved into roles at the Oregon Symphony in the area of Community Outreach, then became the Executive Director of the Salem division of the Oregon Symphony, and finally, the Director of Programs. While there she had the privilege of stewarding 175 top donors, sold advertising and corporate sponsorships, helped with the concert season planning and marketing, budgeting, and oversaw the donor records/accounting. In addition to working in development, Laura still enjoys performing occasionally. Laura recently moved to Des Moines, Iowa and enjoys exploring the city with her daughter Eva Grace, son Thomas, and her husband Dr. Héctor Agüero, who is the conductor of the orchestra and wind ensemble at Drake University.
Maureen Yuen is an accomplished violinist holding a Doctorate in Education from Columbia University and a Master’s in Music from the University of British Columbia. She is the Assistant Professor of Violin and Viola at Drake University. Maureen is widely recognized for her global performances and expertise as an adjudicator, collaborating with renowned composers and mentoring emerging talents. Additionally, she is dedicated to research in violin training improvement and promoting diversity in music education, earning her prestigious recognition, including the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.