Pierce Gradone (he/him) is a Chicago-based composer and bassist whose music echoes the strange cultural brew of his musical formation, from playing bluegrass in the hills of Appalachia to sprinting the marathon of blinding-fast pentecostal shout music. Described as “gorgeous, expansive” (I Care If You Listen) and “engaging” (Chicago Tribune), Gradone’s music integrates the shimmering timbres of untempered harmony with an incisive, funk-infused rhythmic vocabulary. He holds a particular interest in close collaborations with performers, creating uniquely personal compositions that reflect the musical personae of his collaborators. While his music has explored the notion of music as an embodied art and grappling with narratives of labor and mechanical reproduction, his current work interrogates the boundaries between electronic, popular, and contemporary concert music.
Gradone’s music has been performed throughout the world by Eighth Blackbird, Ensemble Signal, Imani Winds, Riot Ensemble, Pacifica Quartet, the Chicago Civic Orchestra, and many others. His music has been heard at a wide variety of festivals as well, including the Florida State University Festival of New Music, June in Buffalo, Ear Taxi Festival, Red Note Festival, Mise-En Music Festival, Soundscape Festival, Aries Composers Festival, Artosphere Festival, the Great American Brass Band Festival, and the Wellesley Composers Conference.
He has also received awards and commissions from the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University, American Modern Ensemble, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Access Contemporary Music, the LuminArts Foundation, Latitude 49, the Lyra Society of Philadelphia, Ensemble Dal Niente, Luna Nova, and Line Upon Line Percussion. In 2021, Gradone was awarded fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and Copland House. He holds degrees from Florida State University (BMus), the University of Texas at Austin (MMus), and the University of Chicago (PhD). In 2022, Pierce was appointed to the faculty of Northwestern University, where he is an Associate Professor of Instruction in the Department of Radio/Television/Film.