Equally at home composing in solitude or collaborating with other artists, Gregory Wanamaker creates music that is at times lyrically expressive while at others athletically virtuosic. His eclectic sound world responds in kind to a variety of extra-musical influences ranging from the simplicity of a still life painting, the emotions of a dramatic narrative, the graceful or angular lines of a landscape, or the visceral discourse of the moment.
Wanamaker’s music has been described as “pure gold, shot through with tenderness and grace” (San Francisco Chronicle), “achingly beautiful” (Palm Beach Daily News), “deeply romantic yet unsentimental” (I Care If You Listen), and “a technical tour de force” (Fanfare).
Gregory’s earliest musical training began at age 6 in professional summer stock theater companies, and continued through both schooled and self-guided explorations through the American folk music of the 1960s, bebop and free jazz, and Western classical music of the late 20th century. He continues his study of sounds to those from around the world, to draw from a variety of musics to inform his continually evolving voice.
Prolific in all musical media, Wanamaker’s best-known works are his chamber works that exploit unique timbral characteristics and technical extensions of wind instruments. To date, his virtuosic Duo Sonata for clarinet and saxophone has received over 500 performances world-wide and is featured on five commercial recordings. His Sonata deus sax machina was one of the required pieces for finalists of the 2014 Adolphe Sax International Competition in Dinant, Belgium and the 2020 Pushechnikov Foundation International Competition for Wind Instruments, Saxophone Division in Moscow.
Wanamaker has closely collaborated with visual artists Carrie Mae Weems and Meggie George, choreographers Cheryl Wilkins-Mitchell and Guy Thorne, and more frequently, the writer and director Garth Bardsley with whom he has created several works from intimate art songs to large works for chorus and orchestra. The creation of his music has been supported by The National Endowment for the Arts and The New York State Council on the Arts in addition to several individual and consortium commissions by performing musicians and ensembles from around the world.
His recent album Light and Shadows, Waves and Time features 21 musicians from around the globe in world premiere recordings of 8 of his recent chamber works. Released by Navona Records, his discography also spans several other commercial labels including Naxos, innova, Equilibrium, Albany, Centaur, Blue Griffin, Soundset, Mark Custom, White Pine, and Summit. He proudly publishes his own music, which is available exclusively through this website at www.gregorywanamaker.com.
Gregory Wanamaker is Professor Emeritus of Composition at the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam where he served from 1997 to 2023. He studied composition with William Averitt, Thomas Albert, Anthony Branker and Ladislav Kubík.