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The Honesty Pill Podcast

Dec 21, 2020

My guest today is composer Alexandra Garner, who actually never intended to work in music at all.

Growing up Alex thought she was going to become an illustrator and draw covers for The New Yorker magazine. Becoming a composer never crossed her mind and she even assumed that composers were just “dead guys in powdered wigs”.

It wasn’t until she enrolled in an electronic music class during her freshman year of college, that she realized she could make her own sounds from scratch and combine them into anything she wanted.

She has been praised as highly lyrical and provocative of thought by the San Francisco classical voice, mesmerizing by the New York times, and her music Regularly performed as the composer in residence of the Seattle Symphony.






Alexandra's composition "Coyote Turns

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About Alexandra

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 (b. 1967) 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, rhythmic exploration, textural constructions, and a love of sonic storytelling.

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.

As the Seattle Symphony 2017-18 Season Composer-in-Residence, Alexandra spent several months in Seattle for composing and educational projects. Her 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.

Recent projects include Fade for flute and soundtrack, commissioned by the National Flute Association, Hummingbird Dreams, commissioned by Astral Artists for pianist Natalia Kazaryan, and an adaptation of her orchestra work Just Say Yes for a consortium of wind ensembles. Current works in progress include a quartet for Sandbox Percussion and a work for flute, harp, and percussion commissioned by the American Harp Society.

Among Alexandra's honors and awards are recognitions from American Composers Forum, ASCAP, Mid-America Arts Alliance, DC Commission for the Arts and Humanities, The National Endowment for the Arts, The Netherland-America Foundation, and the Smithsonian Institution. She is a recipient of the Vassar College W.K. Rose Fellowship in the Creative Arts, a 2018 Rubys Artist Project Grant from the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation, and most recently a 2020 Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award. She has conducted residencies at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, Harvestworks, Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, The MacDowell Colony, and Willapa Bay AiR, and 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.

For the past several years, Alexandra has maintained a private teaching studio and coaching business. She helps composers lead creative and fruitful musical lives through coaching and mentoring, giving masterclasses and workshops, and facilitating dialog and discussion related to artistic career development and the nature of creativity.

Alexandra holds degrees from The Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University and Vassar College. She lives in Baltimore, MD with her wife and their very bossy cat Longfellow.

For more information, please visit