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Alexandra Gardner headphone portrait

Alexandra Gardner. Photo by Thom Parks.

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 is thrilling audiences and performers alike with a clear, expressive sound and a flair for the imaginative and unexpected. She composes for varied instrumentations and often mixes acoustic instruments with electronics, blending lyricism, deep rhythmic exploration, textural development, and a love of sonic storytelling.

As the Seattle Symphony 2017-18 Season Composer-in-Residence, Alexandra’s new symphonic work, Significant Others, was commissioned by SSO and premiered on the orchestra’s subscription series under the baton of Music Director Ludovic Morlot. She also led workshops with LGBTQ+ youth affected by homelessness to create a collaborative composition entitled Stay Elevated, which was performed by musicians of the symphony at the Seattle Art Museum, and directed the Merriman Family Young Composers Workshop, leading 10 pre-college students in a 12-week program culminating in a performance of world premieres.

Alexandra’s compositions are regularly featured at festivals and venues around the world, including the Aspen Music Festival, Beijing Modern Festival, Centro de Cultura Contemporania de Barcelona, Festival Cervantino, Grand Teton Music Festival, The Kennedy Center, The Library of Congress, Merkin Hall, Strathmore Music Center, Symphony Space, and the Warsaw Autumn Festival.

Current projects include a multi-movement work for saxophone quartet and electronics, supported by a 2018 Rubys Artist Grant from the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation, and a composition for flute and fixed media commissioned by the National Flute Association. Recent commissions include Ciphers and Constellations for the String Orchestra of Brooklyn, Vixen for the Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble, and Perseids for a consortium of wind ensembles led by Louisiana State University.

Among Alexandra’s honors and awards are recognitions from American Composers Forum, American Music Center, ASCAP, Mid-America Arts Alliance, Maryland State Arts Council, The Netherland-America Foundation, and the Smithsonian Institution. She has conducted residencies at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, Harvestworks, Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, The MacDowell Colony, and Willapa Bay AiR, and she spent two years 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.

In addition to her work as a composer, Gardner is active as an arts advocate, educator, and digital media specialist. She has worked extensively in audio production for organizations such as National Public Radio, and from 2011-2014 was associate editor of NewMusicBox, a program of New Music USA. She enjoys helping people of all ages and abilities explore and create music through masterclasses and workshops, mentoring emerging composers, and facilitating dialog and discussion related to artistic career development and the nature of creativity.

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.). She currently resides in Baltimore, Maryland.