(born 1971, Princeton, NJ) played guitar in jazz and metal bands until, upon first hearing the music of Anton Webern, he immediately decided to devote himself to composition. Since then, his music has been influenced by his interest in perceptual complexity, the physical and psychological dimensions of performance, and self-organizing processes in the natural world. He has been recognized as a composer of great talent, through commissions from Carnegie Hall, Tanglewood, the Koussevitzky Foundation, the Guggenheim Museum, the Fromm Foundation at Harvard University, the New York State Music Fund, Meet the Composer, the Oberlin Conservatory, and celebrated percussionist Evelyn Glennie; awards from the League of Composers/ISCM (National Prize), Deutschen Musikrat-Stadt Wesel (Symposium NRW Prize), the Aaron Copland Fund, the New York State Council on the Arts, ASCAP, the Alice M. Ditson Fund, the University of Illinois (Martirano Prize), and Columbia University (Rapoport Prize); and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, Fondation Royaumont, the MacDowell and Millay Colonies, the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, the Fritz Reiner Center for Contemporary Music, the Composers Conference at Wellesley, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, Meet the Composer, and the Yvar Mikhashoff Trust for New Music.
Major Festivals have programmed his works, including the Festival d’Automne à Paris, IRCAM-Resonances, Darmstadt, ISCM World Music days (1999, 2000), Voix Nouvelles, Musik im 20 Jahrhundert, Musikhøst, Currents in Musical Thought-Seoul, and the International Bartók Festival. Performances of Eckardt’s music have been broadcast by the BBC, Saarländisches Rundfunk, Radio Socioculturelle, WKCR, the Australian Broadcasting Company, WBAI and Cultura FM Espana. On November 20, 2008, Miller Theater in New York City presented the world premiere of the complete version of Undersong, an hour long chamber work in four parts that ends with an astonishing setting of Lauren Mullen’s poem The Distance(This), for soprano and chamber ensemble. Undersong received its first overseas performance on February 8, 2009 at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki as part of the Musica Nova Helsinki Festival.
Also active as a promoter of new music, Eckardt co-founded and serves as Executive Director of Ensemble 21, the contemporary music performance group in New York City. Under his leadership, the critically acclaimed Ensemble has earned a reputation for innovative programming and top-caliber performances, premiered over thirty works, and recorded for the CRI and Mode labels. In 1999, Ensemble 21 was the first American ensemble to collaborate in concert with IRCAM.
In 1998, Jason Eckardt received a doctorate in composition from Columbia University as a Presidential fellow. In 1992, he graduated cum laude from Berklee College of Music where he was awarded the Richard Levy Scholarship. He has attended master classes with Milton Babbitt, James Dillon, Brian Ferneyhough, Jonathan Harvey and Karlheinz Stockhausen. He has taught at Columbia University, New York University, the Oberlin Conservatory, the University of Illinois, Rutgers University and Northwestern University and recently joined the composition faculty at Brooklyn College/CUNY.
Photo: Florian Kleinefenn