Combining athletic virtuosity and lyrical expressionism, Gregory Wanamaker’s music has been called “pure gold, shot through with tenderness and grace” (San Francisco Chronicle), “achingly beautiful” (Palm Beach Daily News), “compelling” (Audiophile Audition), “outstanding” (American Record Guide), 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 from solo instrumental works to music for chorus and orchestra including multimedia works, 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 400 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.
Gregory Wanamaker’s multimedia collaboration with Carrie Mae Weems, A Story Within a Story, was commissioned in 2011 by the Syracuse-based Society for New Music, and was supported in part by a National Endowment for the Arts 2011 Access to Artistic Excellence Grant. He also is the recipient of a 2012 Individual Artist Commission from The New York State Council on the Arts in addition to awards from ASCAP, The National Association of Composers/USA and Britten-On-The-Bay.
Gregory also collaborates with director and writer, Garth Bardsley, with whom he has composed several substantial works. Their Adirondack Songs for chorus and large wind ensemble is available on Mark Records. Their recent work Laude!, for choir and orchestra, was premiered in December 2016 at the Crane School of Music in Potsdam, NY for broadcast on PBS affiliate stations.
Wanamaker’s recent residencies include SAX18 at The Conservatorium van Amsterdam, The Music and Aesthetics Symposium at The University of Florida, the inaugural American Single Reed Summit at Truman State University, and the XVIII World Saxophone Congress in Zagreb. In June 2019, his recent chamber music will be featured in a concert at Piccolo Spoleto in Charleston, South Carolina.
His 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 in April 2018, his music also appears on 10 other commercial labels including innova, Equilibrium, Albany, Centaur, Blue Griffin, Soundset, Mark Custom, White Pine, and Summit. He publishes his own music, which is available exclusively through this website at www.gregorywanamaker.com.
Wanamaker is currently Professor of Composition at the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam where he has served since 1997. He studied composition with William Averitt, Thomas Albert, Anthony Branker and Ladislav Kubík.