History of the

The quest of the Des Moines Gamer Symphony Orchestra (DSMGSO) began in 2019. Founder Aaron Barker had performed in two other video game music ensembles, and he knew that he had to forge a similar orchestra right here in Iowa. With just two weeks of rehearsal and led by Des Moines Community Orchestra conductor Carl Johnson, 56 instrumentalists heeded the call to epicness and joined together in June 2019 to perform a free concert where the themes of Mario and Sonic and Zelda were heard by over 225 attendees. That fall, the orchestra returned under the direction of Drake University conductor Akira Mori to perform to an almost packed audience of 375.
The pandemic provided an opportunity for creativity and reorganization. While unable to meet in person, our instrumentalists took to virtual performances so that our voice could still be heard. We also formed the inaugural board of the DSMGSO, and together with generous pro bono legal support, the board applied for and received 501c3 nonprofit designation. And as restrictions began to loosen in September 2021, conductor Akira Mori reprised his role and led us in another brilliant, free concert at the Jamie Hurd Amphitheater with 475 attendees.
…..In 2022, our ensemble broke new ground with every step. In March, our very own Seth Hartman led a chamber ensemble to perform at the Iowa Esports Championship to share the music of Fortnite and Super Smash Bros. with all of the competitors. That summer, jazz instructor Brian Rodesch of Simpson College transformed our ensemble into a big band to perform the tunes of Cuphead and Persona 5 to over 500 attendees at two outdoor venues, as well as the headlining Mainframe Studios’ First Friday in August. Finally, in October 2022, the DSMGSO ascended to new heights when we joined together with the Iowa State University Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Dr. Jonathan Govias to play the most challenging and epic set that we have ever performed to over 1,000 attendees at two concerts, even welcoming our inaugural choir to take the awesome and make it legendary.
And we’re only just getting started! We want to keep making each and every concert more exciting, more epic, and more inspiring than the last. Subscribe to us on YouTube, follow us on Facebook, come to our concerts, donate to our organization, and help us show the world just how majestic video game music can be!

Contact Us: desmoinesgso@gmail.com