Randy Grabowski is Professor of Trumpet at the University of Northern Iowa School of Music. where he teaches applied trumpet, plays in the Northern Brass Quintet, and collaborates with colleagues in various faculty ensembles.
Currently Principal Trumpet of the wcfsymphony, Dr. Grabowski has been an active soloist and clinician as well as a dedicated educator and accomplished performer. He has been princal trumpet with the Cedar Rapids Symphony Orchestra and has performed with the Chestnut Brass Company and the Britt, Spoleto, Bear Lake, Great Music West, and Five Seasons Music Festivals. In addition, he has performed with the Indianapolis Symphony and Indiana University Faculty Brass Quintet and has presented masterclasses in the United States, Canada, Brazil, and Hungary.
In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Dr. Grabowski continues to be active as a commercial musician and has been involved in recording several commercials and compact discs. He has performed with recording artists Ray Charles, the Manhattan Transfer, Aretha Franklin, Moody Blues, Mannheim Steamroller, and the Jimmy Dorsey, Nelson Riddle, Harry James, and Benny Goodman orchestras.
Prior to settling in Iowa, Dr. Grabowski also performed with numerous television and recording artists such as: Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Dionne Warwick, Shirley MacLaine, and Sammy Davis, Jr. In addition, he was Principal Trumpet of the Reno Philharmonic, MGM-Grand, and Reno Hilton orchestras, was a member of the Great Basin Brass Quintet, and performed with a potpourri of musical organizations.
Dr. Grabowski received his B.M.E. and D.M. degrees from Indiana University and his M.M. degree from the University of Nevada-Reno.
Graduation with an undergraduate degree was followed by two summers with the Spoleto Festival and 1 1/2 years with Ken Hamilton & Friends. A move to the Reno-Lake Tahoe area resulted in a great number of varied performance opportunities for several years:
Harrah's Club (Reno & Tahoe)
John Asquaga's Nugget
Production & Touring Broadway Shows
Hello, Hollywood! Hello!
Ringling Brothers Circus
My Fair Lady
Compact Disc Recordings
Anthony Williams CD: Synthesis - Skydeck (Nov 2018)
ACE Composers: 21st Century Chamber Music, Ravello Records - 7928 (March 2016)
Christmas Time in Cedar Falls, vol. II, The Bill Shepherd Big Band (Fall 2014)
Super Panther: The UNI Panther Marching Band - soloist (Fall 2012)
Corridor Jazz Project, Vol IV (May 2011)
Christmas in Cedar Falls, The Bill Shepherd Big Band (Nov 2009)
Craig Boche with the Rod Pierson Big Band (Aug 2006)
The Daugherty-McPartland Big Band: Loves to Swing (Aug 2003)
The Bill Shepherd Big Band: Ballroom Memories (Aug 2003)
The Music of Alan Schmitz: Lyric Images - Capstone CPS-3724 (2003)
Shows with Well-Known Entertainers
Anna Maria Alberghetti
Sammy Davis, Jr.
Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra
Harry James Orchestra
Gene Krupa Orchestra
Nelson Riddle Orchestra
Carl "Doc" Severinson
Shields & Yarnell
Dick Van Dyke
There have been many solo trumpet recitals along the way. Most of them have been faculty recitals at UNI, while others have included guest recitals. In addition, there have been numerous solo performances with various ensembles. Highlights have included featured solos with the wcfsymphony (John Williams Concerto & Henri Tomasi Concerto), the UNI Wind Symphony and Symphonic Band, and various Municipal and High School bands. Chamber music collaborations with School of Music colleagues have been particularly joyful.
Cedar Rapids Symphony (Principal)
Joffrey Ballet Orchestra
Indianapolis Symphony (Substitute)
Britt Music Festival (OR)
Great Music West Festival
Bear Lake Music Festival
Five Seasons Chamber Festival
Musicians of a Cloister (Indianapolis, IN)
Reno Opera & Chamber Orchestras
Indiana Opera Company
Indiana Repertory Theatre
Brass Chamber Ensembles
Chestnut Brass Company
Northern Brass Quintet
Indiana University Faculty Brass Quintet
CRSO Brass Quintet
Great Basin Brass
DM (Doctor of Music): Indiana University, Bloomington (1988)
Major: Trumpet Performance
Minor: Music History
Minor: Higher Education
MM (Master of Music): University of Nevada-Reno (1984)
Major: Trumpet Performance
BME (Bachelor of Music in Education): Indiana University, Bloomington (1976)
Major: Instrumental (trumpet)
Biography (n.) - an account of a person’s life.
It would be relatively simple to think of, and include on this page, the history of my education and performances as a trumpet player. Although that would certainly give an accurate picture of my professional life, it would only really touch the surface of my full life. And ... my full life is what matters - it is what makes me the performer, teacher, husband, father, and friend that I am.
My life began in Peru, Illinois. My parents provided me with a set of values and ethics that reflected their own upbringing in a simpler America: hard work, honesty, loyalty, humbleness, and a sense of fairness. My father’s experiences taught him that life was hard, that dreams did not always come true, but that the mark of a solid husband and father was the ability to continue with what had to be done - to be there for his family. My mother had a generous, self-sacrificing nature with a ready laugh and willingness to be helpful.
I started playing the trumpet at an early age with the guidance of my father. When I wasn’t practicing, I was outside playing basketball - no matter whether it was a scorching 97 degrees or a face-numbing 5 below in the snow! My father provided tremendous encouragement for the trumpet playing - even if it was tough love much of the time.
School provided other outlets for my growing trumpet skills. I played with my middle school and high school bands, competed in solo competitions, and aspired to be a studio musician. It was a fine time to be a student musician - our high school band was an impressive group. We toured Europe and faired well against national competition. Next, it was on to two years of college at Northern Illinois University and then two years at Indiana University.
From there, life took an unexpected turn. I was all set to accept a high school teaching position in Iowa when I got a call from a musical group looking for a trumpet player to tour with them. After a moment of uncertainty, I was off on a multi-year excursion with Ken Hamilton and Friends that took me all across the country. We went to Puerto Rico, New York City (Copacabana), Philadelphia, Marco Island (FL), Las Vegas, San Francisco, Hawaii, Lake Tahoe, and eventually to Reno (NV) where I met my wife, Karen, and began the next chapter in my life. That chapter included several years as a professional trumpeter playing a huge variety of music. In 1984, we moved to the Midwest to complete a doctoral degree after several years as a professional trumpeter. It was in Indiana where our only child, Jennifer, was born. Our family was the perfect reflection of our busy but happy lives - and we have never lost the ability to just enjoy being together. Years of vacations, holidays, recitals, and music festivals - we live and learn from each other daily.
Now, there is a granddaughter living her own life adventures. Karen and I begin to look forward to yet another chapter and the long, pleasant stroll towards life past teaching. Throughout it all, music has been there - not an obsession, but a love nonetheless. For a while it was how I regarded myself ... what gave me value ... but the years have allowed me many opportunities to know that I am not my music. It is what I do, not who I am.
This clearer understanding has improved my work as an educator many times over. Although I teach my students to play the trumpet and be better musicians (hopefully) than when they first step through my door, my hope is that I also teach them about life ... about how to respect themselves and each other, about how to value the effort and dedication they put into their work as much as the end result, and about how life is not in the label they may affix to themselves and their playing but in the whole person they become through the experiences. This has been my journey ... my biography ... an accounting of my life ... at least of my life so far.