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University of Iowa News Release

Nov. 24, 2004

Agrell Presents 'A Refreshing Mix' Of Horn Music Dec. 11

Jeffrey Agrell, a horn player known for his exploration of improvised pieces and other unusual niches of the classical repertoire, will present a University of Iowa faculty recital of concert music for horn, all the way from the late 18th century to 2004, at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 11, in Clapp Recital on the UI campus. But not surprisingly, most of the music comes from the past 10 years.

Assisting artists for Agrell's recital will be pianist Alan Huckleberry and trombonist David Gier, both from the School of Music faculty. Their performance will be free and open to the public.

The program will feature six works, including music for solo horn, a duo for horn and trombone, and standard concert works for horn and piano. "The choice of program is a refreshing mix of old and new, lyrical and virtuoso," Agrell said.

The complete program will be:
-- "Drive" for horn and piano, composed in 2000 by John Peterson;
-- Concerto for horn and piano from 1973 by Alexander Arutunian;
-- "Ostinato Suite" for horn and trombone, completed earlier this year by Agrell;
-- "Three Hymn Tune Settings" for horn and piano, composed in 1988 by Paul Basler;
-- "Espana" for horn solo by Vitally Buyanovsky; and
-- the representative of the 18th-century on the program, Mozart's Concerto No. 1 in D major K 417.

Agrell provided commentary on the program: "Australian composer John Peterson's "Drive" is a jaunty piece in a quick 13/8 that makes toe-tapping as inviting as it is difficult to do in this meter.

"Acclaimed Armenian Alexander Arutiunian's best-known concerto is for trumpet, but his two-movement concerto for horn is also replete with quirky charm, with its exotic scales in the first slow movement and fast 5/8 odd meter of the second movement.

"Horn and trombone often sit next to each other in a brass quintet, but there are few duets written just for this combination. In an effort to remedy this lack, I have written a four-movement suite of engaging duets -- Quickstep, Elegy, Habanera, African Bell -- each built around a different ostinato, where a simple rhythmic pattern is repeated in one of the voices.

"Paul Basler is well-known as both a horn soloist and composer, and is the horn professor at Florida State University. He writes in a captivating and familiar tonal idiom, as in his setting of three well-known hymn tunes.

"Russian horn virtuoso Vitaly Buyanovsky's "Espana" for horn alone is one of the most exciting works ever written for solo horn with its Spanish idiom and three and one-half octave range.

"Mozart's Concerto No. 1 is another two-movement concerto, in this case cobbled together later from two separate but incomplete works. This performance will be special in that it will be performed on a natural (valveless) horn in D and the second movement will feature a projection in real time of the comments Mozart wrote in the manuscript to the horn soloist, his old friend Ignaz Leutgeb."

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, teaches introduction to improvisation 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. Several of his compositions have won awards.

Widely respected as performer, teacher and composer, Agrell has performed and given clinics and lectures at regional, national, and international workshops. He is on the faculty of the Asian Youth Orchestra in Hong Kong and was recently elected to the Advisory Council of the International Horn Society. An avid writer, he was on the editorial staffs of two brass journals for decades, writes two regular columns for the Horn Call, the journal of the International Horn Society, and has some 60 published articles to his credit. He is currently working on a multi-volume method that integrates traditional technique with aspects of improvisation, jazz and contemporary music.

Agrell has degrees from St. Olaf College and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He did further studies at the Institut de Hautes Etudes Musicales in Montreux (Switzerland) and at the Basel Conservatory.

Gier is currently associate professor at the UI, where he teaches trombone and brass chamber music and performs with the Iowa Brass Quintet. Before moving to Iowa, Gier served for six years on the faculty of Baylor University in Waco, Tex.

An active soloist, clinician and adjudicator, Gier has performed and presented at numerous colleges, universities, and professional conferences, including the International Trombone Festival, the Eastern Trombone Workshop, the Texas Trombone Symposium, and the Illinois State Trombone Workshop. In the fall of 2002 Gier presented recitals at the University of Kansas and the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and taught trombonists at Yale University and Boston University during a week-long residency.

Gier began his professional career in New England as a member of the Springfield (MA) Symphony Orchestra and Orchestra New England. He was also instructor of trombone and low brass at Choate-Rosemary Hall and Central Connecticut State University, and performed with numerous professional ensembles, including the New Haven and Hartford Symphony Orchestras, the New Orchestra of Westchester, and Keith Brion's Peerless Sousa Band. Gier is currently principal trombonist of the Quad City Symphony and the Cedar Rapids Opera Theater.

As a chamber musician, Gier performed throughout the northeast as a member of the Slide Chamber Players, a trombone quartet. The ensemble was a quarter-finalist in the Concert Artists Guild International Competition and prize-winners in the Shoreline Alliance for the Arts Chamber Music Competition. The SCP actively promoted new music, and premiered works at the Manhattan Brass Symposium, the New York Brass Conference, and the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art.

Gier spends summers with his family on Colorado, where he recently completed his twelfth season as principal trombone of the Breckenridge Festival Orchestra, under the direction of Gerhardt Zimmermann. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan and Yale University, where he completed the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in 1992.

Huckleberry is an active solo pianist and chamber musician. He has performed both in recitals and as a soloist with orchestras in Germany, Great Britain, the Czech Republic, Italy, Austria, Spain, France and the United States. He is also a prizewinner of numerous national and international piano competitions, including the first prizes in the German National Competition and the University of Michigan concerto competition.

As a chamber musician Huckleberry was the featured pianist at flutist Amy Porter's 2003 summer workshop at the University of Michigan. For the past three summers he has been the faculty chamber music coordinator and faculty pianist for the University of Michigan's All-State program at Interlochen. Prior to his appointment this fall at the UI, Huckleberry taught at the Cologne Conservatory in Germany, the University of Michigan, and at Albion College in Michigan.

A proponent of contemporary music, Huckleberry has worked extensively with composers Bright Sheng, Michael Torke, Carter Pann, Evan Chambers, John Berners, and Tom Schnauber. A collaboration with the German radio station WDR in Cologne, led to a compact disc recording of American "crossover" music, which includes works of William Bolcom, William Albright, Pann, Berners, and Schnauber. Most recently Huckleberry was invited to perform at "Criss Cross: Conversations about America's Music."

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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