Jeffrey Agrell joined the University of Iowa School of Music faculty in 2000 after a 25 year career as symphony musician. Besides teaching horn, he currently directs the UI Horn Choir, coaches chamber music, teaches Introduction to Improvisation, and performs with the Iowa Brass Quintet and the Iowa Horn Quartet. Professor Agrell earned degrees from St. Olaf College and the University of Wisconsin. After college he played in U.S. Army Bands for three years. He moved to Switzerland in 1975, doing further studies at the Institut de Hautes Etudes Musicales in Montreux and later at the Basel Conservatory. During the quarter century that he was Associate Principal Horn of the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, he played symphonic music, opera, operetta, ballet, musicals, and choral music, as well as performing chamber music with various ensembles throughout Europe.
Since returning to the United States, he has been very active as a guest artist and clinician, performing and giving workshops and presentations at regional, national, and international workshops, festivals, and conferences. Recent pedagogical activities include the "Creative Horn Playing" workshops he presents with pianist Evan Mazunik (see www.creativehorn.com). Outside of the university, he is a member of the faculty of the Asian Youth Orchestra in Hong Kong and was recently elected to the Advisory Council of the International Horn Society. He has performed and recorded with Confluence, the professional New York horn ensemble.
Besides performing, Jeffrey Agrell has always been very interested in the creative process and has won prizes as both a writer and composer. He was on the editorial staffs of The Horn Call and the Brass Bulletin for many years and has over seventy published articles to his credit. Currently he writes two regular columns for the Horn Call: "Technique Tips" and "The Creative Hornist." He began composing and arranging during his college years, and he played and composed for jazz guitar and electronic music in the 1980s. Since about 1990 he has had a steady stream of commissions from professional chamber music ensembles, including the Slokar Trombone Quartet, Philharmonic Brass Luzern, Swiss Clarinet Players, Wildwind Quintet and the Swiss Brass Consort. His Rhythm Suite for Clarinet and Marimba won First Prize in the 2000 composition contest of the International Clarinet Association. Jeffrey Agrell's works have appeared on CD and have been broadcast on radio and television nationally and internationally. Many of his works have been published and performed at contests and festivals. He is a member of the ASCAP and SUISA, respectively the American and Swiss composers' rights societies.
Most recently he has been very active in bringing new approaches to improvisation to classical musicians, including recitals that feature his compositions that feature integration of written and nonidiomatic improvised material. A selection of them can be heard on his recent CD release Repercussions. He is a member of the Duende Trio (with Evan Mazunik, piano, and Gil Selinger, cello), which recently recorded Gregorian Chance, which takes medieval and Renaissance music as sources for improvisation. Jeffrey Agrell has studied Soundpainting with its originator, New York composer and conductor Walter Thompson, and beginning spring 2005 will direct Gamut, the UI Soundpainting ensemble founded by Evan Mazunik in 2002.