DR. ROBERT A. GARDINER is the founder of the South Carolina Jazz Foundation and Artistic Director of the South Carolina Jazz Masterworks Ensemble. He is a Professor of Music at Lander University in Greenwood, South Carolina where he has served since 2002. He conducts the jazz ensemble and teaches applied saxophone, jazz improvisation, and courses in music education. 

Robert is a native of Cheraw, SC and received a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of South Carolina in 1990. He earned a Master of Music Degree in Jazz Studies from DePaul University in 1996 and completed his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in saxophone performance at the University of South Carolina in 2008. Prior to his arrival at Lander, Dr. Gardiner served as instructor of applied saxophone and woodwind methods at Claflin University. He has also served as director of bands at E.L. Wright Middle School, Newberry Middle School, Burbank District 111 in Chicago, and as assistant director at Newberry High School. While at E.L.Wright, he received a grant to create a comprehensive jazz program for Richland School District Two where he served as the program director and the district’s jazz coordinator. 

Robert regularly has served as a clinician and adjudicator at high schools and festivals in South Carolina and Georgia, as well as throughout the Midwest as a member of the Air Force Air Mobility Command Band in St. Louis from 1990-1994. He conducted the SCBDA Region Five Clinic Honor Band in 2010 and the Region Three Senior Band in 2011.

Robert has released one recording, “Soul of Confidence,” a CD of original compositions available on iTunes and CD Baby featuring his jazz quartet. As a performer, he has worked with a wide array of ensembles over the past 30 years encompassing many different styles of music, including jazz, classical, top-40, R&B, and salsa. He currently leads the Robert Gardiner Jazz Quartet, which performs weekly at various venues in the Columbia area. He performed regularly with the Palmetto Concert Band from 1999 to 2015 and was the founder and director of the Columbia Jazz Orchestra from 2004 through 2010. Robert works regularly as a freelance musician, and has shared the stage with a number of well-known artists and groups such as Aretha Franklin, The Four Tops, Tommy Dorsey, Clark Terry and the Charleston Symphony. 

Dr. Gardiner has served as the state chapter president of the International Association for Jazz Education. He has also served on the Jazz Committee of the South Carolina Band Director’s Association. He is currently a member of the National Association for Music Education and has been organizing and leading the SCMEA Directors Big Band at the South Carolina Music Educators Association’s annual conference since 2003.