Assistant Conductor and Director of Winds
Debra Gardner received Bachelor’s degrees in Clarinet Performance and Recording Arts from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, where she studied under Loren Kitt, Principal Clarinetist of the National Symphony. From there, she went on to Chicago to receive her M.M. in Clarinet Performance from DePaul University, where she studied under Larry Combs, Principal Clarinetist of the Chicago Symphony.
She has performed throughout the U.S., playing with such groups as the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the Chicago Contemporary Players, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, the South Bend Symphony, the Berkeley Symphony, and the Monterey Symphony. She has also participated in many music festivals, including the National Repertory Orchestra, Music Academy of the West, the Texas Music Festival, and the Sarasota Music Festival. Throughout her travels, she has had the honor of playing under the batons of many great conductors, including Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez, Christoph Eschenbach, and Zubin Mehta.
As an educator, her varied experiences include working with at-risk youth at the MERIT Music Program in Chicago, performing in outreach concerts through both the Chicago Civic Orchestra’s MusiCorps Program and the San Francisco Symphony’s Adventures in Music program, and teaching chamber music and music theory for the San Francisco Community Music Center’s Comprehensive Musicianship Program. She has maintained a private clarinet studio since beginning her studies, with many of her students winning competitions and being accepted into some of the country’s most prestigious music schools.