Milwaukee Area Technical College - Music Occupations & Audio Production Programs

Terry Smirl

Drummer and percussionist Terry Smirl has been at the center of Milwaukee’s jazz and New Music scenes since the early ‘80’s. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Applied Percussion from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1986. In addition to leading the Terry Smirl Trio, he has appeared with all of the area’s best jazz musicians including Chuck Hedges, Paul Silbergleit, Brian Lynch, Berkley Fudge, Mark Davis, Hattush Alexander, John Thulin, Gerald Cannon, Jeff Hamann, Jack Grassel, Manty Ellis, Jeff Pietrangelo, Frank DeMiles, John Foshager, What On Earth?, Mike Barnett, Steve Nelson-Raney, Melvin Rhyne, Bobby Shew, Dreamtime, Great Lakes Improvisation Project, Scott Sherwood, Kaye Berigan, Nick Contorno Orchestra, Don Linke, Ron Devillers/Jack Carr Big Band, Chuck Howard Orchestra, and others.

In 1987 he became—and remains—a core member of Present Music. The Milwaukee-based New Music ensemble has grown to become one of the nation’s foremost New Music groups that commissions, performs, and records the music of our time. Mr. Smirl has recorded extensively with Present Music and has performed with the group throughout the United States, Japan, and Turkey.

In addition to his duties as Percussionist with Present Music, Mr. Smirl has been Principal Timpanist with both the Milwaukee Ballet Orchestra and the Wisconsin Philharmonic since 1993. As a freelancer, he has performed with virtually every professional ensemble in the area. He has been a substitute/extra percussionist with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra since 1983, making hundreds of appearances with that organization. Other groups with which Mr. Smirl has performed include Bel Canto Chamber Orchestra, Skylight Opera Theater, Music Under the Stars, Florentine Opera, Wisconsin Wind Orchestra, American Bach Project, Istanbul State Symphony Orchestra, Kamran Ince Ensemble, Music from Almost Yesterday, Ensemble Musical Offering, Bach Chamber Orchestra, Milwaukee Music Ensemble, Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, Festival City Symphony, and others.

Mr. Smirl’s recording experience includes alternative rock dates with Violent Femmes’ bass player Brian Ritchie, multi-instrumentalist John Kruth, and Milwaukee R&B legend Paul Cebar; jazz with New York artist Scott Sherwood, Milwaukee guitar virtuoso Jack Grassel, and the Nick Contorno Orchestra; classical music with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Present Music, and the Albany Symphony Orchestra; and Broadway show scores for the Fireside Dinner Theater.

Mr. Smirl owns and operates Les Artistes, southeast Wisconsin’s premier provider of live jazz and classical music, and he is currently on the music faculties of MATC and the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music.