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James Gardner


Born: 1962 Website  


James Gardner was born in Liverpool, England in 1962, and during the 1980s played keyboards for his group The Umbrella and thereafter for a variety of well-known artists, both live and in the studio, as well as writing and arranging music in many groups, including Pete Shelley’s band and Howard Devoto’s band Luxuria. In 1990 he co-founded the band and remix team Apollo 440, reworking tracks by artists such as U2 and Scritti Politti.

From his mid-teens, writing notated music had formed a parallel stream to these activities, and in 1991 his solo piano piece Shattered Blue Ground, played by Joanna MacGregor, was runner-up in the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival Composers’ Competition. Following encouragement from Michael Finnissy, James left Apollo 440 in 1993 in order to concentrate on composition, and in the same year attended Brian Ferneyhough’s classes at the Viitasaari Summer Academy in Finland.

James moved to New Zealand in 1994, and became a New Zealand Citizen in February 2001. In 1996 he set up the contemporary music ensemble 175 East, which he directed until April 2010. During that time the group gained an international reputation and gave many acclaimed world premiere performances of music by New Zealand and overseas composers.

James was the recipient of the 2003 CANZ Trust Fund Award, awarded annually for compositional achievement by the Composers’ Association of New Zealand. He was the inaugural Creative New Zealand-Victoria University composer-in-residence from 2004-2005 and was holder of the Trans-Tasman Composer Exchange residency for 2005/2006, during which he worked with Australia’s premier new music ensemble ELISION.

In addition to his compositional work, James is an active broadcaster on music, having written, compiled and presented well-received series on Electronic Music, Frank Zappa, Morton Feldman, Iannis Xenakis, the Moog Synthesizer, and the James Bond soundtracks of John Barry – all for the wonderfully eclectic Radio New Zealand Concert.

As a teacher, Gardner has lectured on music at the University of Auckland, Unitec Institute of Technology and the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, where he is currently an Adjunct Senior Fellow.

James is also an irregular performer in the Vitamin-S evenings of improvised music in Auckland.

Composed (41)

a study for voicing doubts

for clarinet and ensemble, 13m

blessed unrest

for piano trio, 7m 30s

brighter glimmer

for flute, clarinet and trombone, 30s


for bass clarinet and viola, 11m 30s


for clarinet, 1m 15s


for violin, 1m 15s


for viola, 1m 15s


for oboe, 1m 15s


for bassoon, 1m 15s


for saxophone, 1m 15s


for guitar, 1m 15s


for cello, 1m 15s


for trumpet, 1m 15s

Displacement Activities

for piano and electronics, 17m


for mixed quintet, 16m

ever not quite

for piano and string quartet, 7m 45s

Fetish Effigies

for flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, percussion, piano, violin, viola, cello and double bass, 9m

Given what we gather takes place

for clarinet and percussion, 7m


for bass flute, bass clarinet and bass trombone, 30s


for clarinet in A and string quartet, 6m

Gyre (Ghosts with Accents)

for percussion quartet and orchestra

I like a bit of a cavort

for chamber ensemble, 30s


for bass clarinet and cello, 1m


for percussion, double bass, bass trombone and bass clarinet, 20s

Kvetch 2

for bass clarinet, bass trombone, vibraphone and double bass, 20s

Local Economy

for trumpet and percussion, 18m

More than one attempt

for piano, horn and ensemble, 8m

Nakashima Burl

for bassoon and string trio, 26m

Queer Studies

for violin, 14m


for bass clarinet, 15m


for bass clarinet and percussion, 40s

Shattered/Blue Ground

for piano, 9m

Silent Screens ‘Auckland ’96 Version’

for chamber sextet, 4m 30s

some other plots for Babel

violin concerto for ensemble, 17m

Ten Bells for Turning Forty

for clarinet and percussion, 6m

Throat Clearing

for clarinet trio, 1m 15s

Umbra Mortis

for choir, 4m

Unlearned Lines

for bass clarinet and orchestra, 10m 30s

Performances (2)

Christchurch Symphony Orchestra | The Planets

__Benjamin Northey__ | Chief Conductor __Los Angeles Percussion Quartet__ ___ __PROGRAMME:...

Elision: The Wreck of Former Boundaries

A BLISTERING MELD OF CONTEMPORARY-CLASSICAL MUSIC Featuring amazingly visceral new works from co...