'Gone is Gone': ASU professor's debut group album focuses on social injustices

Égide Duo's album features original music played on both the clarinet and bass clarinet

Inspired by different social movements, Joshua Gardner, a clinical associate professor at the School of Music Dance and Theater, and his wife released a new classical, instrumental album, "Gone is Gone."

Égide Duo is a clarinet and bass clarinet duo made up of Joshua and his wife, Stefanie Gardner, a faculty member at Glendale Community College who teaches musical courses. Their debut album features songs inspired by environmental change, human rights and equality. It can be streamed on different platforms including YouTube, Apple Music and Spotify. All of the proceeds made from their album are given back to nonprofit organizations associated with the topics that inspired their songs. 

“We're fighting for all these amazing issues that are super important and relevant, but we want the next generation of clarinetists to come in and play this music," Stefanie Gardner said. "We want our students to see what we're doing so that they know you can really do what you want with your career. You don't just have to play the same music over and over again. You can have pieces commissioned about whatever you're passionate about."   

In 2015, the duo said they wanted to work on more original pieces they hadn't heard played before.

“We were pretty frustrated with everything in the world at that point in time," Joshua Gardner said. "That is when we got the idea to commission music addressing various social issues."

“Gone is Gone” features pieces from different composers. The Gardners wanted everyone to feel as if they had the flexibility to do work meaningful to them. They wanted everyone involved to have a way to express themselves through either composing or playing an instrument. 

One of the composers, John Steinmetz, wrote a three-part series about the coal mining industry in the U.S. These pieces are dedicated by Steinmetz to Joshua Gardner’s father, who experienced the hardships of working in the coal mining industry firsthand. 

"It struck me that what has happened to coal country is related to other problems that are going on in the world right now," Steinmetz said. "I had to be careful because I didn't want to speak for the people there, but one of the things music and the arts do is to use the imagination to enter into situations in lives that are different."

Another composer, Kurt Mehlenbacher, wrote a piece for the duo about the impact people living in the Sonoran desert have had on the environment. It focuses on the Salt River, Joshua trees and yucca moths. Mehlenbacher grew up in the Pacific Northwest and environmentalism has been something he has grown up around. 

“Working with Joshua and Stefanie is immensely easy because they just get it," Mehlenbacher wrote in an email. "They play what's on the page. Their technical and musical prowess is virtually unmatched by any other clarinetists I've encountered over the years, and they are just sensible, honest musicians." 

Égide Duo is already working on their next album and have already recorded a song for it. The new album is expected to be released sometime in 2022.


Reach the reporter at lkobley@asu.edu and follow @LKobley on Twitter.

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