Jeffrey Zeigler

Asst. Professor

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Jeffrey Zeigler is an Assistant Professor of Chamber Music and Innovation. A renowned cellist and former member of the Kronos Quartet, Zeigler is widely known as one of the most innovative and versatile cellists of our time.

Zeigler’s journey into classical music began a few weeks before entering his freshman year at Eastman, as his high school cello teacher sat him down and taught him a quick lesson on music theory, introducing him to classical music.

After graduating from Eastman, Zeigler went on to pursue a master’s degree at Rice, which led to a series of orchestra auditions and a door to the world of contemporary chamber music. Today, the New York Times has described Zeigler as “fiery”—a player who performs “with unforced simplicity and beauty of tone.” Acclaimed for his independent streak, Zeigler has commissioned dozens of works, and is admired as a potent collaborator and unique improviser. As a member of the internationally renowned Kronos Quartet from 2005-2013, he is the recipient of the Avery Fisher Prize, the Polar Music Prize, the President’s Merit Award from the National Academy of Recorded Arts (Grammy’s), the Chamber Music America National Service Award and The Asia Society's Cultural Achievement Award.

Following his tenure with Kronos, his multifaceted career has led to collaborations with a wide array of artists such as Laurie Anderson, John Corigliano, Philip Glass, Hauschka, Yo-Yo Ma, Foday Musa Suso, Tanya Tagaq and the Pulitzer Prize winning scientist Siddhartha Mukherjee. He has also performed as a soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Toronto Symphony, the Royal Danish Radio Symphony, the New Century Chamber Orchestra and the Ulster Orchestra under the batons of Peter Oundjian, JoAnn Falletta, Dennis Russell Davies and Dmitry Sitkovetsky. Recent and upcoming concertos written for him include Mark Adamo’s Last Year (at Carnegie Hall with the American Composers Orchestra), Andy Akiho’s Cello Concerto (Sun Valley Music Festival and the Oregon Symphony) and Amy Brandon’s Simulacra (Open Waters Festival). 

Zeigler has released 39 solo and chamber music recordings for Nonesuch Records, Deutsche Grammophon, Cantaloupe, Smithsonian Folkways and National Sawdust Tracks and has appeared with Norah Jones on her album Not Too Late on Blue Note Records. Zeigler can be heard on the film soundtrack for Paolo Sorrentino’s Academy Award winning film, La Grande Bellezza, as well as Clint Mansell’s Golden Globe nominated soundtrack to the Darren Aronofsky film, The Fountain. Zeigler can also be seen making an on-screen cameo in Season 4 of the Amazon Prime’s Golden Globe Award winning series Mozart in the Jungle.  

His most recent solo album, Houses of Zodiac, is his first full collaboration with his wife, trailblazing composer Paola Prestini. Strings Magazine described the album as “one of the greatest and most ambitious solo cello albums of all time”. It is a multimedia experience that combines spoken word, movement, music, and imagery into a unified exploration of love, loss, trauma and healing. Filmed by Murat Eyüboglu at MASS MoCA and Studio Polygons in Tokyo, Japan, with premieres at The Broad Museum in Los Angeles and the RomaEuropa Festival in Italy. The live and filmic experience features the performances and original choreography of New York City Ballet soloist Georgina Pazcoguin and star Butoh dancer Dai Matsuoka from Sankai Juku with the poetry of Anaïs Nin, Pablo Neruda, Brenda Shaughnessy, and Natasha Trethewey. 

Zeigler was the Music Director for two eco-documentaries that exist at the intersection of art, science, and community. Directed by Murat Eyüboglu, part one was entitled The Colorado and premiered at the Metropolitan Museum, the Kennedy Center, and Stanford Live and at over 30 film festivals. An excerpt of Part two, The Amazon, was presented at the Margaret Mead Festival at the American Museum of Natural History. 

Zeigler is the Director of the National Sawdust Ensemble, and the Label Director of National Sawdust Tracks, the in-house record label of National Sawdust, an artist-led, multidisciplinary new music venue in the heart of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where he sits on the Advisory Board. National Sawdust Tracks releases content that reinterprets genre, facilitates provocative collaboration, and encourages new ways of listening. Recent releases include albums by Kamala Sankaram, Du Yun and Gregory Spears, and music by the winners of the Hildegard Commission for Female, Trans, and Non-Binary Composers. 

Jeffrey Zeigler is a member of the Board of Directors of Chamber Music America and CelloBello and is on the Honorary Committee of the Sphinx Organization.