The IJCO is a big band made up of the very best jazz musicians from all over the state. With members from Des Moines, Cedar Falls, Iowa City, the Quad Cities, and everywhere in between, it’s truly special when this powerful group gets together to play.
Mike Conrad is a composer, improviser, and teacher from Iowa. He has been recognized for his arranging and composing with four ASCAP Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Awards and seven DownBeat Awards, as well as awards and commissions from the Contemporary Music Academy in Beijing, the Bundesjazzorchester of Germany, the West Point Army Jazz Knights, and many other organizations. Conrad’s music has been performed all over the world, including a 2017 concert by the Metropole Orkest in the Netherlands, a 2014 Carnegie Hall octet premiere, and a string quartet performance at the US Presidential Inauguration in 2013. Some recent career highlights include winning the SONIC Award from the International Society of Arrangers and Composers for his piece “Flyover,” collaborating on an hour-long recomposition of Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony with the incredibly creative Stegreif Orchester of Berlin, and releasing recordings with both the Iowa Jazz Composers Orchestra and the Mike Conrad Trio.
Equally accomplished on both trombone and piano, Conrad truly loves collaborating with other musicians, and always brings his creativity and expressiveness to everything he does. In addition to his own projects as a leader, Conrad regularly performs regionally with several groups such as Chris Merz’s Quartet, the Bob Washut ‘Emeritet,’ and the Max Wellman Big Band, and has also collaborated with musicians like Louis Hayes, Alexa Tarantino, and Alex Sipiagin. Conrad is in high demand as a clinician and guest director for jazz bands, with recent experiences including a residency at the University of New Hampshire, and directing the 2023 4A Iowa All-State Jazz Band.
Dr. Conrad earned degrees from the University Northern Iowa (BM and BME), the Eastman School of Music (MM), and the University of Northern Colorado (DA). He is currently serving as Associate Professor of Jazz Studies & Music Education at the University of Northern Iowa, where he directs Jazz Band Two and teaches courses/lessons in Jazz Improvisation, Jazz Pedagogy, Jazz Methods, Jazz Theory, Jazz Piano, Jazz Composition, and Jazz Arranging.