Vanessa Gardner joins the East Texas Symphony as Executive Director beginning January 23, 2017. Originally from the Rio Grande Valley by way of Canada, Vanessa earned her Bachelor of Music degree from the Boston Conservatory (at Berklee) in Boston, MA in 2003.
As an established freelance French horn player, Vanessa has performed with Boston Ballet, Symphony New Hampshire, Vermont Symphony, Boston Landmarks Orchestra, Lexington (MA) Symphony and New Bedford Symphony, among others. She has shared the stage with world-renowned artists from a variety of genres including Augustin Hadelich, Stefan Jackiw, Thomas Studebaker, Jane Eaglen, Bang on a Can All-Stars, Joe Lovano, Kenny Werner and Sergey Antonov. Recently, Vanessa played principal horn for Jonathan McPhee's Essential Ring, a reduction of Wagner's original from 17 hours of music to two 3-hour performances, praised by the Boston Globe as "outstanding Wagner."
From 2005-2013 as ensembles and events manager at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Vanessa managed four co-curricular ensembles, a music and instrument library and worked with visiting artists from around the world including Gustavo Dudamel, Chick Corea, The Caracas Brass, The Emerson and Juilliard String Quartets and the Atlantic and Triton Brass Quintets. Simultaneously, she managed the personnel for Symphony by the Sea (Manchester, MA) and served on the board of directors and performed with the Longwood Symphony Orchestra (Boston, MA).
In 2010, Vanessa became the first General Manager of the Lexington (MA) Symphony. In the two years that followed, Lexington Symphony received the Met Life Governance Grant from the League of American Orchestras as well as the League's award in Innovative Programming and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for Lexington Symphony's educational program Orchestrating Kids Through Classics (TM). In 2013, Lexington symphony was a recipient for the Leo Kaplan Award via ASCAP for a world premiere commission honoring the town of Lexington's centennial.
In 2013, Vanessa became the Program Coordinator for the Northeastern (University) Center for the Arts where she helped reshape the focus of the Center from a presenting organization to an interdisciplinary hub that addresses key social issues with public art, music, design and advocacy. Overseeing publicity efforts, Vanessa increased the Center's online engagement 200%, produced 70+ events each academic year and collaborated with faculty, students and visiting artists.
Vanessa's most recent endeavors include serving as the Assistant Director of External Events and Conference Housing at Northeastern University where she produced large academic conferences, generating $1.5mil in revenue annually and welcomed over 4,000 guests to the campus during the summer months. She is also the Program Coordinator for the Atlantic Brass Quintet Seminar, a two-week long summer intensive with faculty from the Atlantic and Triton Brass Quintets that serves 50 gifted young brass musicians each year.
In her free time, Vanessa enjoys camping and cooking over an open fire, scuba diving, visiting the dog park with her two miniature schnauzers Max and Layla and keeping up on her long tones and scales.