Mary Gardner is a Connecticut-based percussionist, teacher, and conductor that specializes in world music, marimba, and orchestral percussion.  Mary received her Bachelor’s degree in music education and performance from Ithaca College, where she studied percussion with Gordon Stout and Conrad Alexander.  In 2010, she completed her Master’s degree in percussion performance under the direction of Grammy award winner Haruka Fujii at the University of Connecticut. Mary has also studied at the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School in London, and the University of Limerick in Ireland. 

Mary is the Director of Percussion Studies at Westport Public Schools, and also teaches beginning band at Long Lots and Greens Farms Elementary Schools.  In 2013, Mary founded the Westport Middle School Percussion Ensemble to share her passion for percussion literature, and it has grown to incorporate students from both local middle schools, as well as wind and string players who are interested in percussion.  This ensemble was selected as one of the Honor’s Performing Ensembles for the Connecticut Music Educator’s Association in 2017, and performed annually at the Connecticut Day of Percussion. 

As a performer, Mary has received acclaim for her fluency in a wide variety of styles on several different instruments. She has performed with singer/songwriters, new music groups, and several orchestras throughout the area including New Haven Symphony and the Hartford Pops. Mary has appeared on stage at such notable venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, the Goodspeed Opera House, and NYU’s Skirball Center for the Arts. Her passion for diverse genres of music has put her on stage with the West Point Brass and Emmy Award winners Lillias White and Sarah Jessica Parker. Mary also enjoys performing and arranging music with her partner, Brianne Chasanoff, and performing as the duo Violet Willows.

In addition to her career as a teacher and performing artist,  Mary is a faculty member at the Connecticut Academy of Irish Music, and is the Education Development Coordinator for Swan Percussion. Mary is an active member of the Connecticut Chapter of the Percussive Arts Society and gives workshops throughout the state.