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Release: Nov. 8, 2002


Jeffrey Agrell, an adventurous horn player who teaches at the University of Iowa School of Music, is known as a composer/performer of new music who likes include improvisation on his recitals. Going beyond that image, Agrell will turn his attention to the Classical horn repertoire for a free recital with pianist Shari Rhoads and violinist Amy Appold, at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 20, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

Not only will Agrell perform Classical music; he will use the historical instrument of the Classical period, the natural horn that was in use before the introduction of valves in the early 19th century.

Agrell will play three pieces on the Nov. 20 recital: “Le Rendez-vous de Chasse” (“The meeting of the hunt”) by Gioachino Rossini, as arranged for the natural horn by the horn virtuoso Hermann Baumann; the Sonata, op. 17, for horn and piano by Ludwig van Beethoven; and the Trio for horn, violin, and piano in E-flat, op. 40, by Johannes Brahms.

Lacking valves, the natural horn has a different sound -- and requires different playing techniques -- than the instrument with valves that has become standard for most modern horn players. Specifically, valves made it possible for brass instruments to play all the notes of the chromatic scale. Without them, some instruments, such as the trumpet, could only play notes that are part of the natural overtone series. Chromatic notes were possible on the natural horn, but the player had to use special techniques to achieve them -- moving the hand in and out of the bell of the instrument.

Although Agrell has given several performance featuring his own works and other recent compositions for horn, he is quick to point out that new music is not his only interest. “My interests in horn repertoire are twofold,” he said. “As a composer and a performer, I am interested in being part of the extension of the repertoire and the creation of new music for horn. This is what I did with Evan Mazunik in our recital on Oct. 8.

“My other interest is in the re-creation of the masterpieces of the rich and varied repertoire of the past, and this is what we will be doing on the Nov. 20 recital, not only in the choice of music, but also in the choice of instruments.”

Agrell described all three pieces on his program: “The first piece, ‘Le Rendez-vous de Chasse,’ evokes the earliest times in the history of horn playing -- as a signal instrument for the mounted hunt in the 1600s. Ever since these beginnings, the horn has had an association with the hunt. The original piece by Rossini was for four horns and orchestra, skillfully (if not miraculously) reduced to a single natural horn by Hermann Baumann.

“One of the few 19th-century sonatas for the horn was written by Beethoven in 1800, for horn virtuoso Giovanni Punto. Beethoven had written out the horn part the night before the premiere and improvised the piano part in concert the next day. I will be performing the piece on the natural horn.

“The Brahms Trio is one of the great pieces of chamber music for horn. As with most of his music, Brahms had the natural horn in mind for his music, but I will perform on modern valve horn, as is most often the case today. To bring the recital music full circle, the last movement of the Trio is rollicking hunting-flavored music.”

Agrell joined the UI School of Music faculty in 2000 after a 25 year career as symphony musician. At the UI he teaches horn, directs the Horn Choir, coaches chamber music and performs with the Iowa Brass Quintet. Before coming to Iowa, he associate principal horn with the Lucerne (Switzerland) Symphony Orchestra 1975-2000, playing symphonic music, opera, operetta, ballet, musicals choral music and chamber music.

Agrell began composing and arranging during his college years and played jazz guitar and electronic music in the 1980s. For the past decade he has had a steady stream of commissions from professional chamber music ensembles. His works have appeared on CD and have been broadcast on radio and television nationally and internationally.

Widely respected as performer, teacher and composer, Agrell was a guest artist/clinician at the Midwest Horn Workshop in 2002. During the summer of 2002 he was a featured artist and clinician at the Juneau Jazz and Classics Festival and a coach for the Asian Youth Orchestra in Hong Kong. He was on the editorial staffs of two brass journals, writes two regular columns for Horn Call, and has some 60 published articles to his credit.

Appold is a founding member and first violinist of the Maia String Quartet. Her extensive performing experience also includes positions with the Youngstown and Canton symphonies and the Isabella Gardner Museum Chamber Orchestra in Boston and solo performances with the Columbus (Ohio) Symphony and the Bach Ensemble of Baltimore. She won first place in the Cleveland Institute of Music Concerto Competition and subsequently performed a concerto with the Cleveland Institute Symphony.

Prior to their appointment at the UI, Appold and the other members of the Maia Quartet were the quartet in residence for the Acadiana Symphony in Lafayette, La., serving as first-chair players in the orchestra’s string sections. The members of the quartet have also served on the chamber music faculty of the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore.

Rhoads joined the UI School of Music faculty in the fall of 2000. She earned her degree in accompanying and has completed post-graduate studies in opera coaching/conducting at the University of Southern California. Before arriving at the UI she taught music history at the Musikhochschule (Music conservatory) in Lucerne and the Conservatory of Lausanne in Switzerland. Rhoads has also been Kapellmeister at the Lucerne Theater and conductor/coach at the opera theater in Darmstadt, Germany. She was coach at the Barcelona and Madrid opera theaters.

Her accompanying credentials include recitals with Jose Carreras, Luis Lima and Montserrat Caballe with whom she worked exclusively as coach/accompanist and orchestrator. She has accompanied master classes with a number of renowned artists including singer Gerard Souzay, cellist Lynn Harrell and violist William Primrose, and served as staff accompanist for the Francesco Vinas (Barcelona, Spain) and Munich International competitions.

The School of Music is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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