Jason Eckardt played guitar in jazz and metal bands until, upon first hearing the music of Webern, he immediately devoted himself to composition. Since then, his music has been influenced by his interests in perceptual complexity, the physicality of performance, political activism, and the natural world. He has been recognized through commissions from Carnegie Hall, Tanglewood, the Koussevitzky Foundation (1999, 2011), the Guggenheim Museum, the Fromm Foundation at Harvard University (1996, 2008), Chamber Music America, the New York State Music Fund, Meet the Composer, the Oberlin Conservatory, and percussionist Evelyn Glennie; awards from the League of Composers/ISCM (National Prize), Deutschen Musikrat-Stadt Wesel (Symposium NRW Prize), the Aaron Copland Fund, the New York State Council on the Arts, ASCAP, the University of Illinois (Martirano Prize), the Alice M. Ditson Fund, and Columbia University (Rapoport Prize); and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Fondation Royaumont, the MacDowell and Millay Colonies, the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, the Fritz Reiner Center for Contemporary Music, the Composers Conference at Wellesley, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, and the Yvar Mikhashoff Trust for New Music. His music is published by Carl Fischer.
Major festivals have programmed his works, including the Festival d'Automne a Paris, IRCAM-Resonances, Musica Strasbourg, ISCM World Music Days (1999, 2000), Darmstadt, Voix Nouvelles, Musik im 20. Jahrhundert, Musikhost, Currents in Musical Thought-Seoul, New Consortium, Festival of New American Music, and the International Bartok Festival.
Subject, a recording featuring the International Contemporary Ensemble, JACK Quartet, and soloists Tony Arnold, Jay Campbell, Jordan Dodson, Eric Lamb, and Marilyn Nonken is available on Tzadik. Two additional portrait CDs, Undersong, featuring Fred Sherry, Claire Chase, Tony Arnold, and ICE conducted by Steven Schick, and Out of Chaos, featuring Ensemble 21, are available on Mode. Other recordings include Strömkarl by Miranda Cuckson and Blair McMillen on Urlicht Audiovisual, 16 by ICE on New Focus, Echoes' White Veil by pianist Marilyn Nonken on CRI, Transience by marimbist Makoto Nakura on Helicon, Sweet Creature by percussionist Michael Lipsey on Capstone, Multiplicities by flutist Nancy Ruffer on Metier, Tangled Loops by saxophonist Nathan Nabb on Amp, Tango Clandestino by pianist Amy Briggs on Revello, A Fractured Silence by the Prism Saxophone Quartet on Innova, and Rendition by clarinetist Jean Kopperud on Albany.
Eckardt has written on subjects ranging from cognitive research informing composition to Richard Serra's use of process from a musical perspective. His work has appeared in Perspectives of New Music, Autour de la Set Theory in IRCAM's Musique-Sciences series, L'etincelle, Dansk Musik Tidsskrift, Current Musicology, and a chapter in Arcana II, edited by John Zorn.
Also active as a promoter of new music, Eckardt co-founded and served as the Executive Director of Ensemble 21, the contemporary music performance group in New York City. Under his leadership, the critically acclaimed Ensemble earned a reputation for innovative programming and top-caliber performances, premiered over thirty works, and recorded for the CRI and Mode labels. In 1999, Ensemble 21 was the first American ensemble to collaborate in concert with IRCAM.
Eckardt received a doctorate in composition from Columbia University as a Presidential Fellow. In 1992, Eckardt graduated cum laude from Berklee College of Music where he was awarded the Richard Levy Scholarship. He has attended masterclasses with Milton Babbitt, James Dillon, Brian Ferneyhough, Jonathan Harvey, and Karlheinz Stockhausen. He has taught at Columbia University, the Oberlin Conservatory, New York University, the University of Illinois, Rutgers University, and Northwestern University. In the 2015-16 academic year he will be a Visiting Professor at the Peabody Conservatory.