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University of Iowa News Release

March 22, 2006

French Horn And Blues Piano Will Be Unusual Companions At UI Recital April 4

The French horn and blues piano might not seem like natural companions, but Jeffrey Agrell (left), who teaches horn at the University of Iowa School of Music, likes to explore new regions of music. And so for his next faculty recital -- at 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 4, in the UI Clapp Recital Hall -- he will perform with local blues pianist Patrick Hazell (right), as well as with classical pianist Richard Gloss and his faculty colleague John Manning on tuba.

Their performance will be free and open to the public.

Teaming up with Hazell is a logical step for Agrell to take. In addition to classical solo and chamber music, he has explored the possibilities of improvisation on the horn for many years, both in his performance and as a teacher in the School of Music. A meeting with Hazell led to what Agrell describes as "the most fun I have ever had making music"-- and now to his recital.

"I first met Pat Hazell after one of his performances two-and-a-half years ago," Agrell explained. "His brother is my neighbor and said that I ought to meet Pat and perhaps jam with him. I had no idea what a horn and a blues singer/pianist would have in common, but I was game to try, since I enjoy improvising.

"Pat was more than willing, and after he was done performing, we adjourned to a nearby cafe with a piano in the back. With no preparation, we just started playing, and it was magic."

The complete program for the April 4 recital will range from standard classical concert repertoire to the blues collaboration with Hazell:

  • "Romanza" for horn and piano, composed in 1972 by Jan Koetsier, played with Gloss.
  • Sonata for horn and piano by Joseph Rheinberger, with Gloss.
  • Agrell's "Attitudes for solo horn."
  • "Legende" for horn and piano by Robert Planel, with Gloss.
  • "Confabulations" for horn, tuba, and piano, with Manning and Hazell.

"This recital takes the listener around the world," Agrell said. "The first piece, a charming cantabile romance is by Jan Koetsier, a Dutch composer who has written many works for brass.

"The second piece is the horn's premiere sonata of the Romantic era, by German composer, organist, conductor, and teacher Joseph Rheinberger, who was primarily a composer of organ works. The sonata -- his only work for solo horn -- is in three movements in rigid classical structure, with the influences of earlier Romantic composers Schumann in sound and Brahms in structure and thematic development.

"My 'Attitudes' was commissioned by Dr. Patrick Miles, host of the 2006 Midwest Horn Symposium, for the solo horn competition. Each movement is based on a different attitude, spirit, or character.

"Planel also captures a variety of moods in 'Legende.' Planel was a Parisian composer, violinist, and pedagogue who was very active in restructuring the music curricula of French conservatories. 'Legende' was written as a conservatory examination piece."

Agrell explained how "Confabulations" grew out of some meetings he, Hazell and Manning had in Hazell's Washington, Ia., studio. "We had a terrific time making spontaneous music," Agrell said.

"After three meetings, Pat booked us to play at his Blue Shop in Burlington for an evening of music-in-the-moment. Our trio was joined by Will Parsons, Pat's drummer in his Mother Blues Band of three decades ago. We played for four hours, and it was the most fun I have ever had making music. The crowd cheered us on every step of the way.

"We made plans to perform elsewhere and the first opportunity happened to be the closer for my recital. For better or worse, we only have one chance to 'rehearse' -- the night before. The piece, 'Confabulations,' consists of some very general sketches of what we might do. In any case, it will take shape and form as we play it in concert."

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.

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 is a member of 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 80 published articles to his credit. He is on the faculty of the Kendall Betts Horn Camp and is currently working on a book of "Improvisation Games for Classical Musicians."

Hazell was called "a legend in Iowa Music" by the Des Moines Register and was inducted into the Iowa Blues Hall of fame on Dec. 17, 2000. He started his professional career in 1960, playing piano in a three-piece band in Burlington. In 1968 he established the Mother Blues Band in Iowa City, and through the 1970s and early '80s Mother Blues toured extensively in the Midwest.

In 1983 Hazell launched a career as a solo performer, including performances in Europe. His recordings were up to 34 albums by 2000, many of which have had significant airplay, both regionally and nationally, and he has been the subject of numerous news articles and television-radio broadcasts throughout his career.

He has also composed and performed sound tracks for several short independent films, beginning with a 1965 UI production by filmmaker Jack Galif that was included in an international film festival in Prague. Hazell and the Mother Blues Band performed much of the sound track for the full-length 1970 release "Nine O'Clock in the Afternoon."

As an educator Hazell deals with songwriting, improvisation, and the elements of jazz and blues. He was an instructor in a special music class at Washington High School from 1987-1995. His class, "Advanced Instrumental Music," was featured on Iowa Public Television's "Living in Iowa" program of Dec. 25, 1992, for its innovative approach to music education, allowing the students to create and perform their own music. He has also presented numerous Blues-In-The-School programs.

A founding member of the award-winning Atlantic Brass Quintet, Manning joined the UI faculty in 2004. He has toured across the United States and around the world with the Atlantic Brass Quintet, including performances in Korea, Japan, Costa Rica, France, Kuwait, India, Pakistan, England, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The quintet has won six international chamber music competitions and performed at the White House, Tanglewood, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Savannah Onstage, the Sacramento Festival for New American Music, and other festivals and concert series around the country.

An active freelance musician, Manning has performed with the Boston Symphony, the Empire Brass and the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra. He has also served as principal tubist with the Vermont Symphony and Albany (N.Y.) Symphony. Outside the realm of classical music, he has performed with the Shirim Klezmer Orchestra, Naftule's Dream, Brass Planet, the Pee Wee Fist, the Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra, Arlo Guthrie and John Lithgow.

As a Yamaha solo artist he has appeared at Louisiana State University Octubafest, the International Tuba Euphonium Conferences 2000 and 2002, and Music Educators Conferences in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Prior to coming to the UI, Manning was on the faculty of the Boston Conservatory, Boston University's School for the Arts, the Tanglewood Institute and the University of Massachusetts. He has conducted tuba master classes around the United States and worked with brass students in Japan, Costa Rica, Panama, Egypt and Oman.

Gloss holds a master's degree in piano performance from the UI, where he studied with Kenneth Amada. He has accompanied many local artists, including flutists Betty Bang Mather and Claudia Anderson, and tenor Scott McCoy. He is also the box office manager for Hancher Auditorium.

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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