Ian Wardenski is a theorist, composer, guitarist and educator. As a composer and guitarist, he is celebrated for his harmonic aesthetic, which has been described as “warm and complex with colorizations that reflect the modern jazz idiom” – Nolan DeBuke. These harmonic characteristics, as well as Wardenski’s angular and additive approach to melody and rhythm, can be heard throughout his debut album "Collective Thoughts," which was released in spring 2019. The album features Wardenski’s quintet, an innovative ensemble that combines the aesthetics of a chamber group with the freedom, spontaneity and improvisation of a small jazz combo. The album also features voice, which is used as a wordless instrument on selected compositions.
Wardenski’s current compositions continue to make use of traditional elements, while simultaneously intertwining textural components such as clusters and bands of sounds. His immersion in rhythm is also on display as he continues to explore alternative systems for rhythmic organization. These composition techniques will be showcased on Wardenski’s second album, which is scheduled to be released in spring 2022.
As a theorist and educator, Wardenski believes strongly in a close relationship between scholarship and performance, and promotes this relationship in his classes. This passion for research and performance can be seen in his graduate thesis, "Engaging the Musical Mind: Promoting the Value of Music Theory and Analysis Toward Authentic Interpretation and Performance of Selected Works of Francisco Tárrega," as well as in his dissertation, "Harmonic and Phrase Rhythm Analysis of the Core Dance Movements from the Four Lute Suites of J.S. Bach." Wardenski brings his enthusiasm of scholarship and performance to the concert stage. He has given lecture recitals throughout the United Sates and Europe. Additionally, Wardenski has shared the stage with many jazz greats including Jerry Ascione, Ray Ascione, Mercedes Beckman, Steve Fidyk, Jason Gano, Marty Knepp, Tom Pitta, Tim Powell, Frank Russo and Amy Shook.
Wardenski began his music studies at 15 under the guidance of John Lahovski, Peter Sittler and Frank DiBussolo. During this time, he attended the Creative Music Institute in Emmaus, Pa., where he studied music theory, composition and improvisation. He graduated from Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, Calif., with a Bachelor of Arts in Music. While there he studied music theory/musicianship under Denis Moreen and Michael Schmitz, and classical guitar under Richard Patterson and David Dueñas.
In fall 2004, Wardenski earned a Master of Music in Music Theory from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pa. While there he studied music theory/musicianship under Robert Shankovich, and classical guitar under Thomas Kikta and Aaron Shearer, author of the "Learning the Classic Guitar" series. Wardenski completed his Doctor of Philosophy in Music Theory at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where he studied music theory/musicianship under Steven Strunk, author of "Harmony" (New Grove Dictionary of Jazz), "Linear Intervallic Patterns in Jazz Repertory" and "Harmony of Early Bop: A Layered Approach." In addition to his work with Strunk, Wardenski studied music theory with Paul Taylor and Andrew Simpson, and classical guitar with Richard Miller.
Wardenski is chair of Performing Arts and an associate professor of music at Anne Arundel Community College. He teaches courses in music theory, composition, sight singing and ear training, jazz harmony, jazz history, and guitar. Wardenski is also the music director for the AACC Small Jazz Combo, as well as the AACC World Class Jazz series. He lives in Annapolis with his wife, soprano Tamara Tucker.
Visit Wardenski's website: ianwardenski.com.