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, and the natural world. He has been recognized through commissions from Carnegie Hall, Tanglewood, the Koussevitzky Foundation, 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, 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, ISCM World Music Days (1999, 2000), Darmstadt, Voix Nouvelles, Musik im 20. Jahrhundert, Musikhost, Currents in Musical Thought-Seoul, New Consortium, International Review of Contemporary Music, Festival of New American Music, and the International Bartok Festival. Performances of Eckardt's music have been broadcast by the BBC, Saarlandisches Rundfunk, Radio Socioculturelle, WKCR, the Australian Broadcasting Company, WBAI, and Cultura FM Espana.
Out of Chaos, a portrait CD recorded by Ensemble 21, is available on Mode. Other recordings include 16 by Claire Chase on New Focus, Echoes' White Veil by pianist Marilyn Nonken on CRI, Transience by marimbist Makoto Nakura on Kleos, Sweet Creature by percussionist Michael Lipsey on Capstone, Multiplicities by flutist Nancy Ruffer on Metier, Tangled Loops by saxophonist Nathan Nabb on Amp, and Rendition by clarinestist Jean Kopperud on Albany. Undersong, a second portrait recording by soprano Tony Arnold and the International Contemporary Ensemble conducted by Steven Schick, is being prepared for Mode.
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 master classes with Milton Babbitt, James Dillon, Brian Ferneyhough, Jonathan Harvey, and Karlheinz Stockhausen. Previously he has taught at Columbia University, the Oberlin Conservatory, New York University, the University of Illinois, Rutgers University, and Northwestern University.