Andrew Heglund is Associate Professor at the University of Nevada, Reno where he teaches percussion, directs the UNR Percussion Ensemble, and teaches jazz small groups. He holds a Doctor of Arts degree in Music from the University of Northern Colorado, a Master of Music degree in Jazz Studies from the University of North Texas, and a Bachelor of Music degree in Percussion Performance from the University of Minnesota. Dr. Heglund performs with the UNR faculty jazz quintet The Collective and has played on four recordings with the group (North, Boats, Balance, and Once and Again). Recent additional recordings include a CD with the Reno Jazz Orchestra titled Jazz Alive; a recording with Ithaca College bassoon professor Christine Schillinger titled Bassoon Surrounded, showcasing music for bassoon and percussion; and a recording featuring Heglund’s original compositions titled Blue Trapezoid. Dr. Heglund is a composer and has had several solo percussion works choreographed and performed with the Sierra Nevada Ballet. He is also an active guest soloist and has performed at colleges and universities throughout the U.S., and he organizes the annual Northern Nevada Day of Percussion and the Reno Jazz Orchestra Jazz in the Schools clinic.
Rhythm! Scene: If you weren't a university percussion professor, what career could you see yourself having pursued?
Andrew Heglund: I probably would have gone into some kind of trade like carpentry. I like building things.
R!S: What's one thing in your institution or city/town (other than your school of music or music department) that you are proud to tell people about?
AH: We have a new arts building at the University of Nevada, Reno, and I am proud to say that the new recital hall has some of the finest acoustics I have ever heard. In terms of the Reno/Lake Tahoe area, we have some of the best hiking, skiing, and incredible panoramic views around.
R!S: What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
AH: I just completed my first recording under my own name, titled Blue Trapezoid, which features my original compositions. It is something I have always wanted to do.
R!S: What is your favorite percussion instrument and why?
AH: I love all the percussion instruments, but the drum set has always been my favorite. I like the fact that it is an instrument where the playing language in many situations is based on improvisation.
R!S: Where did you grow up and what’s one interesting thing about your childhood (musically or otherwise)?
AH: I grew up in northeast suburban Minneapolis, Minnesota, and went to Spring Lake Park High School. One of my first performances unrelated to school band was at a Good Friday church service. I played a drum solo that depicted the thunderstorm. Then, I went directly to a gig with my high school English teacher who played a Hammond B3 at a steak house in St. Paul, Minnesota—complete with red shag carpeting, wrought-iron light fixtures, and lots of cigarette smoke.