Garth Baxter is noted as a modern traditionalist composer. This is a style that combines the traditions of form and clear melodic writing with the use of contemporary approaches to harmonies and other elements. He has composed works for various performance mediums, ranging from intimate solo and small group settings to larger ensembles such as orchestra and concert band. His compositions have been performed around the world.



From Navona Records

This album features music for voice and piano, voice and guitar, chorus and organ, woodwind quintet, clarinet and piano, flute and piano and solo piano pieces. Each of these unique works has a special connection with a song.

GARTH BAXTER’S LATEST ALBUM of songs is a musical treasure hunt with the composer using melodies and fragments from his own work to create new pieces. The practice isn’t new—Rossini is famous for recycling his own material wholesale. But what Baxter does isn’t recycling out of commercial necessity but seemingly out of affection and a desire to link the songs together with shared musical material. The melodies he chooses to reuse or develop often have poetic or dramatic associations attached to them from their original work. When recognized, their familiarity helps the listener frame the wordless instrumental work, and when they are new to the listener, as in the woodwind quintet “A Jagged Path,” which contains themes based on excerpts from his opera Lily, they’re still delightful. 

Baxter clearly takes inspiration from the human voice and poetry. The five vocal songs on the first half of the album are a sort of musical anchor, and each represents a different theme or mood, from yearning nostalgia to cheeky humor. In “Spanish Johnny” for soprano and guitar, Baxter sets one of Willa Cather’s final poems (also the final song in Baxter’s song cycle From the Heart) as an engaging, dramatically structured ballad with intriguing tumbleweed-and-sunshine flavors of the American West evoked by the guitar and Baxter’s subtle, atmospheric harmonies. By contrast, “The Long Hill” is an introspective response to Sara Teasdale’s poem about the gradual realization that life has passed you by, leaving dreams unfulfilled. Baxter takes one of the lines from Teasdale’s poem and uses it for the title of the clarinet and piano duet “Wrapped in the Wind and Sun,” which quotes a melody from “The Long Hill” in the second movement. The mournful tone of the clarinet (Jennifer Tscheulin) adds an additional layer of melancholy. The stunning, heartbreaking “November 1994” and the tender love song “Tattoo” are both part of Baxter’s cycle Music’s Path and, together with the folk-inspired “Flirt,” setting a poem by Nuala Ni Chonchüir (Nuala O’Connor), contain some of Baxter’s most indelible melodies on this album. Music’s Path was commissioned by mezzo-soprano Christine Thomas, who performs the two selections from that cycle with voluptuous tone and musical urgency. The three other vocal tracks are sung by emerging soprano Katie Procell, who is a vocal chameleon, easily shifting the color of her voice to match the bravado of “Spanish Johnny,” the stunned regret of “The Long Hill” and the playful, tongue-in-cheek defiance in “Flirt.” 

With the six songs comprising his Songs Without Words in Miniature, Baxter demonstrates that his compositional voice resounds most powerfully in shorter, compact works, where he writes with more movement and momentum and less contemplation than in other, longer instrumental works on the album. Without having to adhere strictly to the inflection of the text, Baxter weaves fragments of material into beguiling, almost endless melodies wandering through more complex harmonies, as in “Hearts as One,” “We Sat Snug and Warm” and “Starry Wondrous Nights.” Pianist Bonghee Lee performs the collection with equal parts nuance and abandon. 

According to Baxter’s liner notes, the two-part “The Darkness Between Us” for flute and piano is inspired by the resilience of a young girl named Jwandune who was gravely injured when an American drone bombed her village in Afghanistan. It begins with a carefree melody inspired by an Afghan lullaby, then journeys into darkness and fear before ultimately ending in peace and light. Conversely, Baxter’s setting of Edith Sitwell’s “Still Falls the Rain” for chorus and organ begins in darkness—Sitwell wrote the poem during the London Blitz of 1940—with only occasional flickers of light. Baxter’s complex horizontal layering of voices against the ominous backdrop of the organ paints a vivid musical portrait of hopelessness. With the final stanza of Sitwell’s poem, “Then sounds the voice…,” the piece turns toward hope and one voice emerges from the crowd (presumably the voice of Christ). It’s a powerfully dramatic moment, effective and memorable in its simplicity. —Steven Jude Tietjen 

Opera News August 2023

A more satisfying and comprehensive account of Garth Baxter's music than Ask of Me What the Birds Sang would be hard to imagine. Consider: the release features a mix of twelve vocal and instrumental pieces performed by duos, trios, a wind ensemble, a solo pianist, and choir. While variety is a key aspect of the recording, what distinguishes it even more is his writing style. Described as a “modern traditionalist,” he's a tonal composer whose works are unabashedly lyrical and melodic; Baxter isn't a hard-liner, however: an unusual harmonic gesture or smattering of dissonance will appear if the material calls for it.

Ask of Me What the Birds Sang wouldn't have the impact it does if the performers weren't such an impressive bunch, but that they assuredly are, from soprano Katie Procell and mezzo-soprano Christine Thomas to The Patagonia Winds, the Kühn Choir of Prague, and the many other instrumentalists that take part..

All twelve of the pieces presented impress in one way or another, November 1994 for the heartbreak Thomas, accompanied by Stewart, conveys in her vocal performance of the song.

Flirt, performed by Procell and pianist Valerie Hsu, for spotlighting Baxter's humorous side. Songs Without Words in Miniature, six short piano works based on art songs by Baxter, is performed by Bonghee Lee, for whom the work was written. “Hearts as One” finds Baxter at his lyrical best, but others see him venturing into Satie-like dreaminess (“Starry Wondrous Nights”) and jazz-tinged romanticism (“The Night Grew Cold Without”).

As the album nears its close, flutist Johnson partners with pianist Mariko Hiller on The Darkness Between Us, a two-part work Baxter dedicated to Jwandune, whose face was destroyed by a bomb dropped from a United States drone in Afghanistan. Whereas the first section, “Â lalo lalo lalo,” evokes the sadness and pain caused by her disfigurement, “Jwandune's Song” captures the resilience and courage she showed in dealing with surgical reconstruction. Arriving after that intimate performance is the final one, a towering treatment of Still Falls the Rain by the Kühn Choir of Prague with Lenka Navrátilová conducting and Linda Sitková at the organ.

In liner notes, Baxter discusses the words by Teasdale he set for The Long Hill and specifically makes note of the realization expressed in the text “that at some point most of us will suddenly discover we have reached middle age and our hopes to be someone grand are not going to be met.” Baxter might not be a household name in the same way that certain celebrity figures are, but in giving to the world exceptional music of the kind on Ask of Me What the Birds Sang, he most definitely qualifies as “someone grand.”


February 2023

"Ask of Me What the Birds Sang explores the voice of contemporary American composer Garth Baxter. Renowned for his art song compositions and self-styled as a modern traditionalist, Baxter presents a charming variety of instrumental and vocal works inspired by British, Irish, and American song and poetry.

The clarinetists featured on this album include Emily Robinson of the Maryland-based woodwind quintet Patagonia Winds, and the soloist Jennifer Tscheulin, also based on the Eastern seaboard. Both artists bring a wonderfully rich tone and expansive sense of musicality to Baxter’s signature lyrical writing style.

Robinson ably contributes to the agile Patagonia Winds in the two wind quintets. The first, A Jagged Path, showcases the composer’s more angular, contemporary approach to harmony in a departure from the shimmering tonality elsewhere (particularly in the second quintet, A Parting Glass), and this contrast is a welcome addition. Robinson leans into the rhythmic complexity of the work with ease, weaving intricate lines with dexterity across the ensemble and traversing the wandering melodies over the wide range of the clarinet seamlessly.

Tscheulin is paired with piano on Wrapped in the Wind and the Sun, while performing alongside flute and guitar in When Lights Begin to Show. In both contexts, the ensembles are well-balanced and particularly well-matched with flutist Karen Johnson. The flute, clarinet, and guitar trio is marvelously reminiscent of salon-type chamber stylings from an earlier period, but with a modern sensibility. The duo with piano is considerably more introspective, offering Tscheulin an opportunity to showcase their great sensitivity of phrasing.

This recording provides a helpful resource to clarinetists examining contemporary wind quintet or small chamber repertoire with a wide accessibility. Baxter’s sumptuous, warm harmonies and clear-voiced melodies in the diverse instrumental and vocal settings presented create a most pleasant listening experience for any audience.


– Emily Kerski

 The Clarinet Online  (June 2023)

Listen to Ask Of Me What The Birds Sang

The modern traditionalist composer Garth Baxter brings along a large cast of players for instrumental and vocal pieces here, where he often tips his hat to folk music, and is never short on harmony.

“Spanish Johnny” starts the listen with Katie Procell’s stunning soprano alongside Jeremy Lyons’ melodic guitar in the cultured opener, and “When Lights Begin To Show” follows with Karen Johnson’s dreamy flute and Jennifer Tscheulin’s soothing clarinet making for a very pretty landscape.

Elsewhere, “November 1994” showcases the stunning mezzo soprano of Christine Thomas amid Andrew Stewart’s graceful piano, while “Flirt” allows Valerie Hsu’s flowing keys to complement Procell’s expressive pipes.

Close to the end, “Songs Without Words In Miniature” unfolds across 6 movements of solo piano from Bonghee Lee that are quite absorbing and reflective, and “Still Falls The Rain” exits the listen with Linda Sitková’s meticulous organ meshing with the Kuhn Choir of Prague.

A very diverse take on contemporary chamber sounds, each song resonates with a distinct take on melody, and the unparalleled talent on hand sure do execute flawlessly in Baxter’s inimitable vision.

- Take Effect

Voices of Earth and Air, Volume III

From Navona Records

This album includes my work Still Falls the Rain for SATB and Organ performed by the Kühn Choir of Prague, Lenka Navrátilová, conductor and Linda Sítkov, organist.

Voices of Earth and Air, Volume III showcases contemporary choral music. There are also works by William Copper and Deborah Anderson among others.

Released October 9, 2020

"In Baxter's Still Falls the Rain, the Kühn Choir of Prague is joined by organist Linda Sitková for a lyrical, uplifting piece based on a well-known poem by Edith Sitwell. Though it concerns the suffering experienced by people during WWII, the text and Baxter's music ultimately celebrate the indomitable spirit and hope that have enabled people to survive the most devastating circumstances."
Textura - February, 2021

"Garth Baxter closes the album with Still Falls the Rain, for choir and organ, a lyrical work using one of the best-known poems of the poet Edith Sitwell. Above the tragedy of war, Baxter calls us to hope: "Still do I love, still shed my innocent light, my Blood, for thee.""
Sonograma Magazine


February 8, 2019 PARMA Recordings (Navona) released a new album of Garth's instrumental music.
The performers are:

Pianist Andrew Stewart.
Flutist Melissa Wertheimer.
Violinist Nicholas Currie.
Pianist Diana Thompson Greene.
Saxophonist Kenny Baik.
Pianist Bonghee Lee.
The Arabesque Duo (Troy King, Kathrin Murray).
The Azimuth String Quartet (Nicholas Currie, violinist James Tung violist Alice Tung and cellist Adam Gonzalez).
And the West Shore Piano Trio (violinist Heather Haughn, cellist Diana Flesner and pianist Jay DeWire.)

"With all the elements lining up perfectly, this is what listening was once all about. The kind of set that newbies and moldy figs can meet and agree over, it's a wonderful listening experience."
Chris Spector

"Each setting is a balance of the tradition of classical music's cannon of forms and developments all presented with a balanced approach to modern harmonies and melodies that draw deeply from the tradition while still pushing forward. Baxter's case for 'Modern Traditionalism' is spot on with Resistance. Each of the 10 compositions have modern harmony, voicing and melodic colors, but they are all lyrical and easy to follow and understand. ---Each of Baxter's compositions have a common theme of being immediately and intuitively accessible to the listener and that gives each piece the power to evoke sincere emotions with Baxter's 'Modern Traditionalism.' That's the short of it!"
Adorjan Horvát

"Resistance is a beautifully conceived recording that evokes beauty and complexity in a gorgeous soundscape. This is classical music that represents the history of the tradition while moving it forward."
Elberton Cisnero

"Resistance is an interesting choice of title for this latest collection by Garth Baxter simply because the recording presents no barrier to impede listeners from warming to its euphonious sounds. – It is undeniably accessible, and it is also music of integrity and power.---words such as romantic, pastoral, folk-tinged, compact, and lyrical come to mind as Resistance works its magic for almost eighty minutes. One pictures Baxter being delighted by this presentation of his artistry, as a more flattering portrait of the composer would be hard to imagine."
February 2019

"The album is a stunning soundscape that is both romantic in quality dramatic in exploring the sonic possibles of each instrument color.
The ability for Baxter to create music that sounds and speaks naturally from such a vast array of instrumental colors is indicative of a true master.
Baxter's compositional style is full of tradition as he steps out as an innovator. His music is firmly rooted in the structures and compositional techniques and developments of the Classical masters. Baxter is outstanding in his craftsmanship of meticulous structures that are adorned with deeply romantic motifs. "
Brice Boorman

"Resistance displays Baxter's ability to combine Romanticism with elements of 20th and 21st Century classical sounds. Baxter's music employs a unique system of melodies that are memorable through harmony that is tonal and expands the usual diatonic patterns. Baxter composes melodies that do not confirm themselves to outline major or minor triads. His compositions have elegance and a sense of adventure and that is what makes them so exciting to behold."
Steven Miller
Sound in Review

Available at:



Was released January 12th 2018 by PARMA Recordings. It will include performances by soprano Jessica Satava, pianist Andres Stewart, Tenor Peter Drackley, Soprano Annie Gill, Soprano Katherine Keem and flutist Melissa Wertheimer. It will include the song cycles Skywriting, Three Poems from Edna St. Vincent Millay, Three Madrigals, Two Last Songs, as well as Nights Without Sleep and Grandmother, think not I forget and the closing aria from the opera Lily, Is this the cost? This has been described as an "exquisite collection of works for voice."

"The songs reveal a very intimate and poetic character....they are delicate, nocturnal works, with pleasing and graceful harmonies, that accompany and elegantly underline the poetic texts."
Luciano Feliciani, Kathodik

"There are many lovely things on this recording of songs by Garth Baxter about loss and memory and of marrying words to music. Most are sad, and the composer's idiom is simple, straightforward, old-fashioned romantic, but in each Baxter's ear for matching the rhythm and sense of the verse quickly allows him to identify the central point of emotional interest at which his inspiration and the singer's art intersect."
Laurence Vittes
Gramophone Magazine, May 2018

"The world needs beauty,and there is plenty of it to be found in this collection of art songs by American composer Garth Baxter. Baxter seems to have carved out a happy if quiet career as a composer in an array of genres, with art song at the forefront. He bills himself as a modern traditionalist, and the music heard here bears out that description. His songs are suffused with lyric romanticism within a framework of familiar tonality, but plenty of modernistic touches in both his melodic and harmonic palettes keep everything fresh.----
Baxter knows how to shape lovely melodic lines and to cushion them within a warm harmonic framework."
Christopher Berg
Journal of Singing

Available at:

Katherine Keem Sings Songs and Arias by Garth Baxter

Katherine Keem Sings Songs and Arias by Garth Baxter

The recording Katherine Keem Sings Songs and Arias by Garth Baxter is now available from Centaur Records. This includes a number of art songs for voice and piano as well as some for voice and guitar. Also, there are 5 arias from the opera Lily. The artists on this release are Katherine Keem, Soprano; Andrew Stewart, Piano; Kathrin Murray, guitar; and Peter Scott Drackley, Tenor.

"{This} release by composer Garth Baxter and performed by Katherine Unha Keem , soprano; Andrew Stewart, piano; Kathrin Murray, guitar; Peter Scott Drackley , tenor, features From the Heart: Three American Womens, {which} is a significant contribution to the guitar and voice repertoire with nine songs in the collection as well the 2 Songs of Reflection."
Bernard Werner

Other Recordings

The Four Songs from Twelfth Night is included on the release

Chords and Strings, Centuries of Songs for Voice and Guitar from Lil Red Hen Records

Suzi More, Soprano; Daryl Hester, Guitar
Suzi More, Soprano; Daryl Hester, Guitar

Available at CDBaby