Jacob Harrison serves as the Director of Orchestral Activities and Associate Professor of Music at Iowa State University. In addition to conducting the ISU Symphony and Chamber Orchestras, Dr. Harrison teaches beginning and advanced undergraduate conducting. In 2014, Dr. Harrison received two awards for his teaching at ISU. At the university level, he was awarded the Early Achievement in Teaching. Additionally, he was named the 2014 Shakeshaft Master Teacher by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
A versatile conductor, Dr. Harrison is an articulate and committed advocate for the performance of the great symphonic repertoire, opera and musical theater, the music of chamber orchestras, and contemporary music. A sought after conductor, clinician, and educator, Dr. Harrison is a regular guest conductor with professional orchestras, honor ensembles, and music festivals throughout the country. In December Dr. Harrison will return Phoenix to lead performances of The Nutcracker with Ballet Arizona and the Phoenix Symphony. He has also been a repeated guest conductor with the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera. Dr. Harrison recently conducted the Iowa All-State Orchestra, and in 2018, he will lead All-State Orchestras in North Carolina and Arizona.
In recent years, he has worked with orchestras in Arizona, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Tennessee, and Texas. In Iowa, he has been the guest conductor for many honor festival orchestras including the Northwest Iowa Honor Orchestra Festival, the Northeast Iowa Honor Orchestra Festival, the Metro Honor Orchestra Festival, and the Iowa Junior Honors Orchestra Festival. Dr. Harrison is also regularly invited to clinic high school orchestra programs across the state.
Before moving to Iowa, Dr. Harrison lived in Phoenix, AZ where he served as Music Director of the North Valley Chamber Orchestra and was a cover conductor for the Phoenix Symphony. Additionally, he has guest conducted such groups as the Arizona State University Symphony, Chamber, and Sinfonietta Orchestras, the Crossing 32nd Street Contemporary Music Ensemble, the Mill Avenue Chamber Players, the Scottsdale Community Orchestra, and the Arizona Repertory Orchestra.
In 2007, Dr. Harrison was appointed Resident Conductor of the Chapparal Music Festival, a new music festival in Prescott, Arizona. A passionate supporter of music that is created for our time, he continues to work with many composers and has commissioned and premiered numerous musical works for orchestras, wind groups, and a wide variety of chamber ensembles. He was also a regular guest conductor with the Arizona Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME) throughout his time in Arizona.
Dr. Harrison is equally at home conducting opera and music theater as he is conducting contemporary music and the great symphonic literature. He has conducted productions with the Arizona Lyric Opera and with the ISU Opera Studio including Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle, Bernstein's Candide, Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, and was he the assistant conductor for Strauss’s Ariadne auf naxos.
Harrison holds both the Doctoral of Musical Arts degree in Orchestral Conducting and the Master of Music Education degree from Arizona State University. At ASU, he was a teaching assistant for the orchestra program and was the Director of the ASU Sinfonietta Orchestra. He studied orchestral and opera conducting with Timothy Russell and William Reber. He earned the Bachelor of Music Performance degree from the University of Texas at Austin.
Jacob and his wife, Kathleen, reside in Ames, Iowa with their son.