Alex Gartner is a celebrated conductor, composer, author, clinician, collaborative pianist, and passionate advocate for the arts. Through his work from the podium, the piano, and on printed music, he seeks to illuminate the transformative potential of music to empower one's truest self, shed light on relevant social issues, and create environments and experiences that propel music education and the arts across generational, socioeconomic, and perceptual lines.
Mr. Gartner serves as the Artistic & Executive Director of the Pensacola Children's Chorus (FL), a community-based youth choir comprised of 9 resident ensemble and 3 regional choirs that account for 300 singers. Combined, these choirs and other musical programs reach an annual audience of nearly 25,000 people, including 5,000 youth, from across Northwest Florida and Southwest Alabama. Supported by a team of 15 full- and part-time staff and a robustly generous donor base, the Pensacola Children's Chorus (PCC) serves as the premiere performing arts experience for children in grades 1-12 in Florida's panhandle.
A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Mr. Gartner previously served as the Richard W. Wesp Assistant Director of the Cincinnati Youth Choir (CYC). Under the mentorship of Robyn Lana, founder and artistic director, Gartner discovered the potential that exists in young voices, one that has underpinned his career. His experience with CYC was only heightened by the tutelage of his high school choral director, Mr. Richard Wesp, who had an lauded 57-year career teaching middle and high school in the Cincinnati area.
Outside of the sphere of children and youth, Mr. Gartner has served as a leader in many community choirs and church music departments. Presently serving as the Principal Organist for First Baptist Church of Pensacola (FL), he has held positions as Director of Traditional Music at Epiphany United Methodist Church (Loveland, OH) and Director of Music at St. James Episcopal Church (Westwood, OH). He also directed choirs in the Forest Hills School District (Anderson Township, Ohio), taught general music for an independent school in Mason, Ohio, and served as the Artistic Director for the Forest-Aires Women's Chorus (Anderson Township, Ohio). These experiences, combined with his considerable work with children's and community youth choirs, helped Mr. Gartner develop an appreciation and proclivity for the administrative aspects of running community-based choirs, a cause he champions in his book The Business of Choir with co-author Emily Williams Burch (GIA Publications, June 2022).
Mr. Gartner is an active contributor to the local, regional, and national fields of choral music, music education, and the arts. In Pensacola, he secured PCC's designation as a Kennedy Center (D.C.) Partner in Education with the local school district. Through this relationship, PCC works alongside district leaders and local teachers to offer nationally affirmed professional development workshops and facilitate community dialogue among leaders of arts organizations and their in-school counterparts. This work earned Gartner the title of Champion of the Arts (2017) bestowed by the Escambia County School District (Pensacola, FL).
Gartner has held leadership positions with numerous national arts organizations. Presently, he serves as a member of the Advocacy & Collaboration Committee of the American Choral Directors Association through which he serves as a national resource and policy consultant for issues related to the impact and awareness of the arts in community spaces. He previously served as the Repertoire and Resources Chair for Children and Community Youth for ACDA's southern region, a role in which he provided consulting services and facilitated dialogue among choir directors across 11 states. He also was a member of the national arts education council for Americans for the Arts (2020-2021). During this tenure, he and his colleagues were a catalyst for organizational reform in the areas of racial reconciliation, resource allocation, and equitable access to the arts.
During the coronavirus pandemic, Mr. Gartner's Pensacola Children's Chorus served as a vital resource for community choirs across the United States and the World. Gartner and other PCC staff members served as influential contributors to national dialogues that shaped the future of community children's and youth choirs both during the pandemic and beyond. PCC-authored resources served as operational templates for community choirs throughout Florida and the U.S., and as far away as Italy.
An active composer, Mr. Gartner's choral works have been described as both simple and intricate simultaneously. His pieces often examine issues that lie close to the heart. Past subjects have included cancer, gun violence, and memory loss. With a passion for children’s and treble voices, he is careful to approach these subjects through the lens of the singers so that they might be able to appropriately incorporate their own emotions and experiences through the learning and performance of his works. These pieces among many others are published through Santa Barbara Music Publishing, the Lorenz Corporation, Choristers Guild, and Alfred Music Publishing.
Mr. Gartner earned his Master of Music in Music Education from the University of Florida, where he conducted research to identify successful methods to develop musicianship within the performance-driven environments among successful and respected children's and youth choirs. He earned his Bachelor of Music in Music Education from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, where he graduated summa cum laude and was the recipient of the 2012 John Leman Award for Outstanding Choral Leadership. He also holds a certificate in Arts & Culture Strategy from the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice.
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