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Alexandra Gardner

Baltimore, MD         

Praised as “highly lyrical and provocative of thought” (San Francisco Classical Voice), “mesmerizing” (The New York Times), and “pungently attractive” (The Washington Post), the music of composer Alexandra Gardner draws inspiration from sources including mythology, contemporary art forms, and her training as a percussionist. Composing for varied instrumentations and often mixing acoustic instruments with electronics, Gardner is building new audiences for contemporary music through an expressive sound and flair for the imaginative and unexpected.

Gardner’s compositions have been featured at festivals and venues throughout the world, including performances at the Aspen Music Festival, Warsaw Autumn Festival, MATA, Beijing Modern Festival, Centro de Cultura Contemporania de Barcelona, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Look & Listen, Conservatory of Amsterdam, Symphony Space, Merkin Hall, The Library of Congress, Festival Cervantino, and The Kennedy Center. Her music has been commissioned and performed by acclaimed ensembles and musicians such as SOLI Chamber Ensemble, cellist Joshua Roman, Percussions de Barcelona, NOW Ensemble, pianist Jenny Lin, and The Seattle Chamber Players.

Recent performance highlights include the world premieres of Just Say Yes for the Seattle Symphony, conducted by Ludovic Morlot and featuring drummer Alan White from the band Yes on drum set, Banyan by the Chicago Composer’s Orchestra, and Ciphers and Constellations for string orchestra with electronics, commissioned by The String Orchestra of Brooklyn. During the summer of 2016 the Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble took eight newly commissioned works including Gardner’s Vixen for mixed chamber ensemble on a tour of National Parks to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park System.

Gardner’s music has received honors and awards from organizations such as ASCAP, American Music Center, American Composers Forum, Mid-America Arts Alliance, Maryland State and District of Columbia Arts Councils, Meet The Composer, The Netherland-America Foundation, Open Meadows Foundation, the Prix Ton Bruynèl, and the Smithsonian Institution. She has conducted residencies at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, Harvestworks Digital Media Arts Center, Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, and The MacDowell Colony. She was awarded the 2002-03 Vassar College W.K. Rose Fellowship in the Creative Arts, and from 2002-2004 she served as a visiting composer at the Institut Universitari de l’Audiovisual in Barcelona, Spain. Her music is recorded on the Innova, Ars Harmonica, and Naxos labels.

Gardner holds degrees from The Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University and Vassar College. She currently resides in Baltimore, Maryland.

For more information, please visit www.alexandragardner.net.

The Way of Ideas

The Way of Ideas was commissioned by The Seattle Chamber Players for their 2008 Icebreaker IV Festival, curated by Alex Ross. The title is inspired by a quote from Philip Pullman’s book, “The Golden Compass”: “The idea hovered and shimmered delicately, like a soap bubble, and she dared not even look at it directly in case it burst. But she was familiar with the way of ideas, and she let it shimmer, looking away, thinking about something else…”. Performed by Kelli Kathman, flute; Alicia Lee, clarinet; Yuki Numata, violin; Joshua Roman, cello.

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electric blue pantsuit

The inspiration for electric blue pantsuit came from a dream fragment, in which I am watching a crowded, noisy cocktail party take place, and a friend (a dream friend – the ones we recognize in our dreams but have never met in real life) emerges from the crowd wearing a glowing bright blue pantsuit. This image has stayed with me for years, and for me the music expands upon that scene, as if the violin is dreaming about a celebration in which it is talking to friends, meeting new people, engaging in animated discussions and dancing.

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Two by Eight

Saxophone, bassoon, electric guitar, violin, cello, contrabass, piano, drum set. When Compagnie ch.AU approached me about this project, for which they were commissioning several composers to write two minute works, I wondered what could really be accomplished with eight instruments in only two minutes. As it turns out, a whole lot of energy can be packed in 120 seconds!

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NewMusicBox Articles

Conversations October 15 2014 | By Alexandra Gardner
Lainie Fefferman: Strength In Numbers

"I like things that are minimal, unexpectedly simple, and surprisingly powerful… In math and music I think it's really striking how you can take these tiny little ideas, and they...

Listen September 9 2014 | By Alexandra Gardner
Sounds Heard: No Lands—Negative Space

Negative Space is the first full length album of electronic musician/sound artist Michael Hammond's recording project No Lands; it features nine electronic works that combine song format and ambient soundscape—the...

Listen August 19 2014 | By Alexandra Gardner
Sounds Heard: J.C. Sanford Orchestra—Views From The Inside

Composer-trombonist-conductor JC Sanford's recent release Views From The Inside on Whirlwind Recordings delivers loads of aural surprises wrapped up in layers of jazz orchestra.

See more of Alexandra Gardner's articles on NewMusicBox.