Pierce Gradone’s (b. 1986) music echoes the strange brew of musical cultures that made up his childhood, from playing bluegrass in the hills of Appalachia, to sprinting the marathon of blinding-fast Pentecostal shout music. His recent work explores the notion of music as an embodied art, grappling with narratives of labor, personhood, and mechanical reproduction. Described as “gorgeous, expansive” (I Care If You Listen) and “engaging” (Chicago Tribune), Pierce’s music integrates the shimmering timbres of untempered harmony with an incisive, funk-infused rhythmic vocabulary. He has a particular interest in close collaborations with musicians, creating uniquely personal works that reflect the musical personae of his collaborators.
His works have been performed throughout the world by Eighth Blackbird, Ensemble Signal, Imani Winds, Riot Ensemble, Israel Contemporary Players, Pacifica Quartet, the Chicago Civic Orchestra, and many others. His music has been heard at a wide variety of festivals as well, including the Florida State University Festival of New Music, June in Buffalo, the Ear Taxi Festival, the Red Note Festival, the Artosphere Festival, the Great American Brass Band Festival, and the Wellesley Composers Conference. He has also received awards and commissions from the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University, American Modern Ensemble, Latitude 49, the Lyra Society of Philadelphia, Ensemble Dal Niente, Luna Nova, and Line Upon Line Percussion. He holds degrees in composition from Florida State University, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Chicago. Pierce currently serves as assistant professor of music at Knox College, overseeing the composition area and electronic music studio.
His current projects include a collection of original songs for singing flutist and clarinetist with live electronic accompaniment, and a concerto for clarinet and wind ensemble for Andrew Hudson.
Portrait by Elaine Kalvelage