Saxophonist and composer Steven Hardy is a doctoral student at the Eastman School of Music, where he directs the Eastman Jazz Workshop Ensemble and teaches courses in jazz theory, jazz history, and saxophone styles. He has traveled around the world with various collegiate ensembles at notable venues, including Carnegie Hall and Dizzy’s Club in New York. His debut album, Encompassed, is available on streaming services and features his original small-group compositions.
As a graduate student, Steven has been fortunate to perform with various groups, including the Dave Rivello Ensemble, which was listed as a Rising Star Big Band by Downbeat magazine in 2023. He also collaborated with bassist/composer John Clayton as a member of the Eastman Jazz Ensemble on his commissioned work, Keys Are Black, Blacks Are Key, which celebrated Eastman’s centennial. While studying at Indiana University, Steven played lead alto saxophone with the Brent Wallarab ensemble, which won second place at the Jazz at Lincoln Center’s inaugural Jack Rudin Jazz Championship.
Steven was a recipient of the Ray Wright prize in 2022, which is given to students in the Eastman jazz program who embody a spirit of artistry, dedication, versatility, and entrepreneurship. He has been blessed to study privately with world-class instructors, including Charles Pillow and Gary Versace at the Eastman School of Music, Greg Ward and Tom Walsh at Indiana University, and Ray Smith at Brigham Young University (BYU).
As an undergraduate pursuing a Bachelor of Music degree in Woodwind Performance at BYU, Steven was a winner of the School of Music’s concerto competition during his first semester. Additionally, he played lead alto saxophone in BYU’s premier jazz band, Synthesis, for four consecutive years and was inducted into the Synthesis Hall of Fame. During that time, Synthesis won two Downbeat awards, performed at the annual Jazz Education Network (JEN) conference, and toured internationally in the Baltic states and the Caribbean. Steven also performed with BYU’s Wind Symphony in Australia and was a featured soloist with the group on a tour in Texas.
Steven’s drive as an artist is to inspire his community. He is currently an adjunct instructor at Alfred University in Alfred, New York, where he teaches jazz history and directs various ensembles. Originally from Salt Lake City, Steven contributed to the Utah music scene by hosting a weekly jam session for local musicians, maintaining a teaching pool of private students, and performing in Caleb Chapman’s award-winning Soundhouse bands.