The New Yorker | May 15, 2017
Many contemporary composers are interested in combining acoustic instruments with digital sounds, but few achieve the particular alchemy of craft, whimsy, and sensual appeal that the Baltimore-based composer Gardner consistently produces.
San Francisco Classical Voice | Edward Ortiz
For the [ensemble Citywater’s] performance much of the focus was cast on Gardner, a Baltimore composer with a deft touch at writing for the marimba and other percussion instruments. This ability played out elegantly in the round and poetic musical patterns of Ayehli, which paired a marimba with recordings made at Ground Zero shortly after 9/11.
The festival’s closing work was Gardner’s cinematic Migrations, a potent, 10-minute work whose glissandos on strings and chord clusters on the piano grew more expansive, underscoring a surprising evolution from one musical idea to the next. It was, by turns, highly lyrical music and provocative of thought.
The New Yorker | Alex Ross
In Gardner’s Luminoso, flamenco strummings are digitally processed in a way that evokes a lone guitarist wandering around a sun-baked ruin.
Time Out New York | Steve Smith
The hardware and software Gardner employs on Luminoso respond to her commands like a pianist’s Steinway or a fiddler’s Strad; her electronic elements seem to move with the same volition and flexibility as her human collaborators. Even so, nothing meanders: Each work on Luminoso has a shape, a momentum and a destination.
NewMusicBox | Molly Sheridan
If the darkness of brief winter days is getting you down, Alexandra Gardner has proffered a cure Luminoso, a six-minute work for guitar and samples which also lends its title to this disc of “solo with sounds” pieces, is inspired by the sunlight in Barcelona. The rhythms and timbres of flamenco-style guitar playing dominate the opening measures, but the bed of processed guitar sounds underneath pull things in a more ethereal direction…..the music’s movement – both in the acoustically finger picked and in the electronically crafted – generates an inherent warmth.
The Rambler | Tim Rutherford-Johnson
Alexandra Gardner’s Luminoso is an album of warm light and cool evening breezes…The strength of Gardner’s often spellbinding music on this CD is its thoughtful composition. You sense at each turn that everything has been considered and weighed before proceeding, and that soloist and electronics are ultimately in the service of a compositional form, rather than a loosely-imagined concept.
Give Me Take You
This is one of the few recent composition albums to really grab my attention as virtuosic, tasteful, and exploratory all at the same time. Gardner, though perhaps a little too keen on using the Papyrus font on her releases (yet endearingly so), is one of the most unique and rewarding musical voices engaged in electro-acoustic composition that I’ve heard in a long, long time. She seems to have equally good footing in minimalist practices as she does in rhythmic complexity and electronic techniques.
Primetime A and E | Mark Keresman
To some acoustic music fans, electronics are the Devil’s Tool. But, regardless whether it’s a wood flute, a turntable, or a synthesizer, all are means to make sounds most humans can’t generate on their own. That said, contemporary composer Alexandra Gardner finds a nexus between both worlds – each piece here is for a solo instrument (acoustic guitar, marimba, soprano sax, bass clarinet) playing in tandem with some variation of electronic media (sampler, computer, etc.). One of the cool things about Luminoso is it’s often difficult to tell where the “human element” ends and the “artificial intelligence” begins. The other is the meditative (though not always soothing) aspect of Gardner’s compositions – fascinating, stimulating stuff, smack-dab in the middle of the post-serial cerebral (Christian Wolff, Morton Feldman) and the “repeating patterns” crews (Terry Riley, Steve Reich). Fine by me.
Gramophone | Ken Smith
…Gardner really does have a lot to say on her own terms.
AllMusic | James Mannheim
Compared with the obsessive detail attending some contemporary electronic pieces (Luminoso) gives you an idea of the freely creative feel of Gardner’s music, and of its delights for the listener.
The Baltimore Sun | Tim Smith
There also seemed to be hints of bird sounds – happier in tone than Messiaen’s mournful creatures – in Alexandra Gardner’s Tourmaline, a 2004 work for soprano sax and electronics. Mobtown co-founder Brian Sacawa delivered the taut, engaging piece with his usual understated virtuosity.
The New York Times | Steve Smith
Alexandra Gardner’s Tourmaline surrounded the saxophonist Brian Sacawa’s graceful lines and flutters with bustling electronic counterpoint and ghostly echoes.
Night After Night | Steve Smith
…Tourmaline was mezmerizing when heard at the recent MATA Festival.
Revista Musica Catalana
La compositora Alexandra Gardner, demostrando un auténtico y profundo conocimiento de los medios electrónicos, con Tourmaline plantea un verdadero contraste entre los dos medios sonoros que
enmarca magníficamente dentro de una forma bien trabada, en que tiempo y sonido se amalgaman en un ágil discurso y unidad.
The Way of Ideas
Berkshire Fine Arts
You want to hear much more of Alexandra Gardner, whose The Way of Ideas was next up. She talks about creating dramatic musical landscapes, and that she did, but in a curious and challenging way. Although her piece was deftly shaped, her concern for lack of control and her wish to let the music arise from delicious temptation and random thoughts was wonderfully exhibited. Not one but several ribbons rolled out from a sound block only to begin another. Without the pressure of willing, the music became evanescent.
Seattle Post Intelligencer
Seattle Chamber Players goes from strength to strength with its annual festival of contemporary music, now in its fourth year and attracting larger audiences every time. At the first of three concerts in Icebreaker IV: The American Future, organized by Alex Ross, music critic of The New Yorker, five of the program’s works were commissioned by or for the ensemble, the core members of which are Paul Taub, flute; Laura DeLuca, clarinet; David Sabee, cello (in this program, Joshua Roman substituted); and Mikhail Shmidt, violin. Alexandra Gardner’s well-structured The Way of Ideas was light and exciting.
A stunning weekend festival by Seattle Chamber Players demonstrates the great vitality of contemporary classical music. In Alexandra Gardner’s The Way of Ideas, you sensed an undercurrent of melancholy tempering the cheerful surface, all drawn together organically.
Fascinating as the Seattle Chamber Players’ three previous ‘Icebreaker’ festivals have been, it’s surprising that they and factotum Elena Dubinets were able to top themselves again. Alexandra Gardner’s The Way of Ideas made a good concert opener Friday: brightly percolating and attractively sec, to use wine terminology.
The Baltimore Sun
Taken from a line in Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass about how thoughts become reality, VERGE’s balanced reading of The Way of Ideas let us hear how the flute’s motif would soon become the clarinet’s. The interplay between flautist David Whiteside and clarinetist Rob Patterson was so jovial and so transparent, following Gardner’s hocketting logic was a delight indeed.
The Washington Post | Daniel Ginsberg
The players capped off the concert with a gripping account of Alexandra Gardner’s Migrations, a pungently attractive ensemble piece. Cellist Ignacio Alcover made strong contributions, while conductor Robert Pound was there to keep it’s bracing effects and textures in balance.
San Antonio Express-News | Mike Greenberg
…(Crows) is a thoughtful, compact and deeply beautiful work that one fervently hopes to hear again.
Alexandra was a featured guest on SoundNotion #87. (October 2012)
Urban Modes | Cornelius Dufallo
read the interview (September, 2009)
The Vassar Quarterly | David Ezer
read the feature article (Summer 2000)