Jeffrey Zeigler

Jeffrey Zeigler

About Jeffrey Zeigler

Described by the New York Times as “excellent”, and a player who performs “with unforced simplicity and beauty of tone”, Jeffrey Zeigler was the cellist of the internationally renowned Kronos Quartet for eight seasons. One of the most celebrated and influential ensembles of our time, Zeigler has performed over a thousand concerts worldwide, has premiered over 200 works and has collaborated with many of the world’s most versatile and innovative composers and performers. In the process, Zeigler has played an integral role in redrawing the boundaries of the string quartet medium.

Zeigler has been the recipient of the Avery Fischer Prize, the Polar Music Prize, the President’s Merit Award from the National Academy of Recorded Arts and the Chamber Music America Richard J. Bogomolny National Service Award among others.

Zeigler has given many notable premiers including works by John Adams, Laurie Anderson, Damon Albarn (of Blur and Gorillaz), John Corigliano, Philip Glass, Henryk Gorecki, Vladimir Martynov, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Valentin Silvestrov and Peteris Vasks to name a few. Notable collaborations include Asha Bhosle, The Bang on a Can All-Stars, jazz pianist Billy Childs, Noam Chomsky, The Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Philip Glass, Paul Hillier, Zakir Hussain, Nine in Nails, the great Azerbaijani singers Alim and Ferghana Qasimov, Afghani Rubab virtuoso Homayoun Sakhi, pipa virtuoso Wu Man, Tom Waits and Howard Zinn.

The 2013/2014 Season will see the launch of a number of new projects and collaborations. Highlights include a duo with Laurie Anderson and a trio with the experimental pianist Hauschka and the Finnish rhythm master Samuli Kosminen. Both of these collaborations premier at the River to River Festival in New York City. Zeigler will also be giving the world premier of a new Cello Concerto by Canadian composer Scott Good with the Vancouver based jazz band, The Hard Rubber Orchestra. Additionally, Zeigler will be premiering a number of newly commissioned works by Kyle Bartlett, Nimrod Borenstein, Anna Clyne, Bryce Dessner (of The National), Mohammed Fairouz, Jesse Jones, Glenn Kotche (of Wilco), Richard Reed Perry (of Arcade Fire), Paola Prestini and John Zorn.

Mr. Zeigler has appeared as a soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Toronto Symphony, the Royal Danish Radio Symphony, the Basel Symphonie, the Brooklyn Philharmonic and the Sioux City Symphony and has performed under the batons of Seiji Ozawa, Christoph Eschenbach, Michael Tilson Thomas, Leonard Slatkin, Robert Spano, Sir Roger Norrington, Mstislav Rostropovich, Peter Oundjian, James Conlon, John Adams and Dennis Russell Davies.

Over the course of his celebrated career, Mr. Zeigler has released over a dozen recordings for Nonesuch Records, Deutsche Grammophon and Smithsonian Folkways and has appeared with Norah Jones on her album “Not Too Late” on Blue Note Records. Zeigler can also be heard on the film soundtrack for Darren Aronofsky’s film, “The Fountain” featuring music by Clint Mansell and including performances by the Scottish band, Mogwai.

Jeffrey Zeigler holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester where he was a student of Stephen Doane, and a Master of Music degree from the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University where he served as the Teaching Assistant for Paul Katz. He then continued his studies at Indiana University under Janos Starker. Mr. Zeigler has also studied at the Britten-Pears School in Aldeburgh, England where he was a pupil of William Pleeth and Zara Nelsova. He is also the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts degree from the Cornish College of the Arts.

Zeigler served as the Cellist-in-Residence at Texas Christian University and as a Visting Lecturer at Indiana University at Bloomington. Recently, Zeigler was appointed to the Cello Faculty at Mannes College The New School For Music. This season, he will also be a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Oregon.

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So Why is Improvisation so Important? — by Jeffrey Zeigler

Like so many classically trained cellists, improvising was never something that I felt very comfortable trying. And although most of my professional life has been in the world of new music, improvisation was not something that I had explored in depth until a few years ago. My improvisational journey began literally the day after my final day with the Kronos Quartet when I played a concert at The Stone in New York with John Zorn and several others on one of his monthly improv nights. For those of you who have never been to one, the way that these concerts work is that everyone sits downstairs in the basement and one by one people decide in the moment who plays with whom. It can be duos, trios or quartets—you literally [...]

János Starker Remembrance Week: The Test

After a long journey a young man arrived deep in a forest where the teacher of his choice was living in a small house he had built himself. When the student arrived, the teacher was sweeping up autumn’s falling leaves. Greeting his new master, the young man received no greeting in return. And to all his questions, there were no replies. Realizing there was nothing he could do to get the teacher’s attention, the student went to another part of the same forest and built himself a house. Years later, when he was sweeping up autumn’s fallen leaves, he became enlightened. He thought to drop everything, run through the forest, and say “Thank you!” to the teacher. Instead he stayed sweeping, calm & smiling.              [...]

Hare Krishna, KickStarter and Fundraising in the 21st Century — by Jeffrey Zeigler

Last November, I was driving in my car listening to NPR. I became fascinated by a story by Alix Spiegel regarding the Rule of Reciprocation. Citing the work of Robert Cialdini, an emeritus psychologist at Arizona State University, Spiegel writes that, in a nutshell, the rule of reciprocation is: “If someone passes you in the hall and says hello, you feel compelled to return their greeting. When you don't, you notice it. It makes you uncomfortable, out of balance. That's the rule of reciprocation.” Spiegel goes on to write: “Cialdini noticed a similar phenomenon when he studied Hare Krishnas. In airports, they would…give…people passing by what they described as a gift: a flower, a book, a magazine. Then, after the person had the gift in…hand, they would ask for a [...]

Cello Is My Co-Pilot (Part 2) — by Jeffrey Zeigler

I am, of course, a cellist writing to other cellists. So discussing the torment that we all have to go through when we travel with our instruments is, naturally, preaching to the choir. In fact, I wrote a blog post here on CelloBello a few years ago on the topic hoping to give some helpful tips to cellists (Cello Is My Co-Pilot). And in addition to my post, there are quite a few individuals that have written many extremely helpful articles and blogs geared at helping cellists all over the world deal with the hassles of travel. The information is definitely out there to know the basic guidelines that should be followed in order to handle pretty much 99% of the situations that one will face during air travel. So [...]

By |2017-10-30T05:19:02+00:00November 1st, 2012|Categories: Cello Travel|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Tak-Sîm (Pt. 2) — by Jeffrey Zeigler

Here in Part Two of my discussion on Tak-Sîm by Alireza Farhang, I am going to focus on his application on various extended cello techniques. On this topic, I found his approach to be quite fascinating and one that I am especially excited to share with everyone here in the cello community. The piece begins with an audio trigger that I execute by pressing on a foot pedal. The trigger is a low, ambient sound that is sonically enhanced when I play a tremolo on the stick of the bow thus creating an almost a breathless quality. Although a relatively simple technique, for this technique I would suggest using what I call a "guilt free" bow. The reason is because there is a large crescendo at the tail end of [...]

Tak-Sîm (Pt. 1) — by Jeffrey Zeigler

In my next few blog posts I am going to take a temporary detour from our discussion regarding the K-Bow in order to talk about a new work that my quartet recently premiered in Paris at the Cité de la Musique. The piece is by Alireza Farhang, an Iranian composer currently residing in Paris. The work, entitled Tak-Sîm, was commissioned by IRCAM (the Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics and Music).   In past blogs I have spent a fair amount of time talking about the integration of technology and extended cello techniques into performance. My desire to discuss this piece comes from the fact that in my opinion this particular composition successfully integrates both concepts. In his own words, the composer's objective was to transmit the intonation of [...]

K-Bow (Part 1) — by Jeffrey Zeigler

A few weeks ago my quartet traveled to Syracuse University for a week long residency. While there we had many interesting and thought provoking interactions with the student body. Our activities ranged from giving a standard string master class to a screening and discussion about the film Requiem for a Dream to a discussion about how one could navigate their way through the music industry. We also worked with a team of film students for a music television show called Loud and Clear. But perhaps the most distinctive activity of the week involved our concert that utilized a new and extremely innovative technology. The new device that we used is called the K-Bow. Before we continue I need to answer the question: what is the K-Bow? In the simplest terms, [...]

Sound Designer — by Jeffrey Zeigler

As we continue our discussion about the various ways to integrate a sophisticated approach to sound design, there is one point that I would like to make before we get to far into the equipment nitty-gritty. That is of the need for your own sound designer. I think that the person in this role has both the most important as well as the most unsung job in a given concert. Important because they have complete responsibility for how you actually will sound in the hall. You may play wonderfully, but it could all be for nothing if, for example, the sound person has set you up to sound brash and tinny. But I also say unsung because the audience will only see them as the person standing at the mixing [...]

Cello Is My Co-Pilot (Part 1) — by Jeffrey Zeigler

Several years back I was flying out of the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. My cello was strapped into the seat next to me and I was ready to go. Lost in my own thoughts, a flight attendant leaned over and asked me very nicely if I was flying with an oboe. Now, I have flown a great deal with my cello over the years and have conditioned myself to be ready for whatever excuses the flight attendant brings in order to hassle me. But I had never ever heard of a cello being confused with an oboe! In complete shock, my only reaction was a nervous laugh. It was right then that I realized that she was actually quite serious and I immediately apologized. But honestly, where had she thought up [...]

To Mic, or Not to Mic — by Jeffrey Zeigler

I must admit that I myself am relatively new to the use of sound design. Previous to joining Kronos I had only dabbled here and there, and even then only in small amounts. Like so many cellists that graduate from conservatory, it really wasn’t something that I encountered very much except in specific 20th century works that required its use. In fact, I would say that, like so many, I viewed the use of amplification as a form of cheating.   To some degree, I do not completely disagree with this notion. Like all tools, it isn’t the tool itself that is the problem, but what one chooses to use it for.  If one uses amplification simply in order to play louder, then you are in fact cheating. However, like any [...]