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 such as mythology and contemporary poetry, her training as a percussionist, and her experiences of the natural world. 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, FeNAM, 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, violinist Jennifer Choi, NOW Ensemble, ETHEL, Ne(x)tworks, and The Seattle Chamber Players.
Recent performance highlights include the world premieres of Banyan by the Chicago Composers Orchestra and Just Say Yes for the Seattle Symphony, conducted by Ludovic Morlot and featuring drummer Alan White from the band Yes on drum set. Current commissions include a shakuhachi piece for the European Shakuhachi Society and a large wind ensemble piece for a consortium of university bands.
Among Gardner’s honors and awards are recognitions from Meet The Composer, ASCAP, American Music Center, American Composers Forum, Mid-America Arts Alliance, Maryland State Arts Council, The Netherland-America Foundation, Open Meadows Foundation, the Prix Ton Bruynel, and the Smithsonian Institution. She has been a composer-in-residence 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 was a visiting composer at the IUA/Phonos Foundation in Barcelona, Spain. In 2006 Innova released Gardner’s CD Luminoso, a series of six compositions for solo instrument with electronics. She was a 2008 recipient of a D.C. Commission for the Arts and Humanities Individual Artist Fellowship.
In addition to her work as a composer, Gardner is active as a digital media specialist and arts advocate. She has worked extensively in audio production for organizations such as NPR and Soundprint, and is currently associate editor of NewMusicBox, a program of New Music USA.
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Gardner holds degrees from The Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University (M.M.) and Vassar College (B.A.). Her teachers and mentors have included Annea Lockwood, Ronald Caltabiano, Morton Subotnick, Augusta Read Thomas, Bernard Rands, John Harbison, Pauline Oliveros, and Chen Yi. She currently resides in Baltimore, Maryland.