Kay Gardner (composer)

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Kay Gardner (also known as "Cosmos Wonder-Child") (1941–2002) was a musician, composer, author, and musical producer involved in using music for creative and healing purposes. Her compositions include works for chamber orchestra, symphony orchestra, choir, flute, voice and piano. She was very active in promoting the work of contemporary female musicians and composers.


Born in Freeport, New York, Gardner wrote and performed her first piano composition at the age of four. She subsequently went on to gain performance experience in chamber, orchestral, and vocal music. Gardner is considered a founder of the women's recording industry, and founded her own independent record label, Even Keel Records. She produced 17 albums, both of her own music and of others'. Gardner composed works for flute, piano, chamber ensemble, orchestra, and choir. In 1974, Gardner and Alix Dobkin recorded and produced a nationally distributed album with explicitly lesbian-feminist lyrics (Lavender Jane Loves Women, Women’s Wax Works). In 1977, Kay Gardner wrote her first piece for orchestra "(Rain Forest"), and conducted the premiere (her conducting debut) the following year at the National Women’s Music Festival in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, with Antonia Brico in attendance. Between 1976 and 1984, Gardner worked on A Rainbow Path, a large musical composition designed for meditation on the eight energy centers, or chakras, of the human organism. She conducted a women's music orchestra production of it in 1988 at the National Women's Music Festival. Gardner also co-founded the New England Women’s Symphony. She was a choir director, radio personality, and a staff writer for HOT WIRE: The Journal of Women's Music and Culture. She is credited with envisioning the Acoustic Stage venue at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival (with cellist Rachel Alexander).

Selected works[edit]


Chamber Works (published by Sea Gnomes Music)

  • Romance
  • Touching Souls
  • Crystal Bells
  • Lunamuse
  • Mooncircles, 1975, Urana Records/Wise Women Enterprises, distributed by Olivia Records
  • Prayer to Aphrodite
  • Atlantis Rising
  • The Rising Sun: Variations on an American Blues Theme
  • The Seasons
  • Winter Night, Gibbous Moon: Saga for Eleven Flutes
  • Vocalise (on Bach's Prelude in C-minor)
  • Earth Shadows for Bassoon & Chamber Ensemble
  • Viriditas
  • North Coast Nights
  • Rondo
  • Sailing Song
  • Women at the Lakeside
  • A Rainbow Path (Ladyslipper Records, 1984)

Orchestral Works

  • Lament for the Thousands
  • Century March
  • Rainforest (for chamber orchestra; recorded by the Bournemouth Sinfonietta, Leonarda Records)
  • The Rising Sun: Variations on an American Blues Theme
  • Night Chant
  • Prayer to Aphrodite
  • The Greenwood
  • Quiet Harbor

Oratorio and Opera

Choral Works (Mixed Chorus)

  • Aquarian Anthem (text: Kay Gardner)
  • Time is But the Stream...(text: Henry David Thoreau)
  • Stopping By Woods (text: Robert Frost)
  • Beloved Presence (text: Mohammed Hafiz)
  • Three Sumerian Hymns (for chorus & large ensemble)
  • Affirmation: A Benediction (text: The Upanishads)
  • Mary Had a Baby (Traditional Spiritual)
  • The Banshee Song (text: Kay Gardner)
  • Lucina's Light: A Yuletide Pageant/Cantata (Women's Chorus)
  • When We Made the Music (text: Kay Gardner)
  • The Rootwomen (text: J. Goldspinner)
  • A Creed for Free Women (text: Elsa Gidlow)
  • Dancing (text: Susan Griffin)
  • Song of the Dying Amazon (text: Shirley Tannenbaum)
  • The Spider and the Fly (text: Mary Howitt)
  • Charge of the Star Goddess (text: Traditional)

Solo Instrumental Works

  • A River Sings (for solo cello)
  • The Elusive White Roebuck (for horn & piano)
  • Moonflow (on Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata; for flute & piano)
  • Innermoods (for flute & guitar)
  • Seven Modal Improvisations (piano with any instrument/s)
  • Mariachi (for marimba)
  • Travelin' (for guitar)
  • Thou Little Tiny Child(piano arrangement of The Coventry Carol)

Solo Vocal Works

Lectures and Literature

  • Music as Medicine: The Art & Science of Healing With Sound (9-hour lecture series on tape; Sounds True)
  • Sounding the Inner Landscape: Music as Medicine (1990)

With Lavender Jane (Alix Dobkin, Gardner and Patches Attom)

  • Lavender Jane Loves Women (1973)


External links[edit]