ASU music professor releases album to support social change

January 15, 2021

Joshua Gardner, clinical associate professor in Arizona State University's School of Music, Dance and Theatre, and Stefanie Gardner recently released “Gone is Gone,” their debut album as the Égide Duo. The Égide Duo’s mission is to collaborate with composers to create and present music that addresses social change, including issues involving the environment/climate, animal and human rights, and equality.

“We wanted to do something to make a difference,” Joshua Gardner said. “We were tired of playing the same repertoire over and over and didn’t want to bring attention to ourselves, but rather to issues that are important to us. As musicians, we want to use our voices for good, inspire listeners to act, and raise money for organizations that are making a difference in the world.” Stefanie and Joshua Gardner. Download Full Image

In addition to teaching at ASU for the last decade, Joshua Gardner also serves as director of the Performance Physiology Research Laboratory at ASU. Stefanie Gardner is on the faculty of Glendale Community College and Ottawa University. Both are Selmer Paris/Conn-Selmer and Silverstein Works performing artists on clarinet.

They have been performing together as a duo since 2006 and officially as Égide Duo since 2016. Gardner said the duo was born out of frustration with “ineffectual politics, the endless and reckless consumption of limited natural resources, the exploitation and industrialization of animals” and the overwhelming feeling of uselessness in the face of these injustices.

In order to fight the frustration, the Gardners decided to put their efforts and resources into music with a clear aim to make a difference in the world. They reached out to a few composer friends to gauge interest in the project and said they received an overwhelming show of support and encouragement to move forward.

They said they named the duo “égide,” which is French for aegis, since it means “the protection, backing or support of a particular person or organization.”

The duo’s logo, a waveform of the radio wave oscillations created by the Van Allen radiation belts, was inspired by a 2012 NASA article that included recordings of the audible-range oscillations of electromagnetic radio waves from Earth’s radiation belts, which protect the atmosphere and make life on Earth possible. They say the image reflects their commitment to finding ways to mitigate anthropogenic damage to ourselves, the food chain and our environment.

“Lost and Forgotten,” by Kurt Mehlenbacher, is about the Arizona environment and ecosystem and is one of Égide Duo’s first commissioned pieces on the new album.

For the album, they wanted to raise money for organizations making measurable differences in the world, so 100% of the proceeds will be donated to nonprofit organizations that support homeless populations, fight to achieve justice and equity, and protect the environment.

“It is our hope that pairing a musical soundscape to a cause may prompt action from our audiences by bringing awareness to the cause and eliciting an emotional response to the cause, much like how a musical score can manipulate a viewer’s emotional journey through a film,” Joshua Gardner said.

To select the pieces for the album, they collaborated with composers to choose causes they all felt strongly about supporting.

“We wanted to be certain that the composer is passionate about the topic, so we get a piece in which they are completely invested,” Joshua Gardner said. “Giving composers this freedom, we have received such amazing pieces.”

The album’s title was derived from the final movement of John Steinmetz’s “Coal Seams.” Steinmetz wrote the piece after learning that Joshua Gardner’s father, who worked in the mining industry in Kentucky, died from cancer likely caused by contact with coal dust and toxic chemicals when Joshua was only 8 years old.

The album can be purchased digitally on over 60 platforms including Apple iTunes, Amazon Music, Spotify, Deezer, YouTube Music and Pandora, and in CD format through Soundset Recordings and Égide Duo.

The album was recorded at Tempest Recording on the Soundset Recordings label and made possible by funding from the School of Music, Dance and Theatre and the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University.

Lynne MacDonald

communications specialist, School of Music, Dance and Theatre


A season of transitions brings perspective and confidence for 2019 alumna

January 15, 2021

Time spent in nursing school is full of transitions. You have your transition into the professional program, to different specialties, and then there’s the transition to practice which is meant to prepare you for your first job as an RN.

Brooke LaVelle progressed through each step successfully. She graduated from ASU’s Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation in May 2019, earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. A series of photos showing Brooke LaVelle in her cap and gown, nursing scrubs and more recently in full personal protective equipment Brooke LaVelle pictured in her cap and gown, then after starting her first job as a nurse and more recently in full personal protective equipment. Download Full Image

“As a result of my Term 7 and Term 8 clinicals, I was able to network while in school so that I had a job lined up post-graduation, at the same facility I did rotations in,” LaVelle said.

The future looked especially promising. 

She started in the progressive care unit in September at a Scottsdale area hospital, with the goal of transitioning to the intensive care unit relatively quickly. LaVelle jumped enthusiastically into her new job ready to deliver exceptional care. It marked one of the biggest transitions yet into her chosen profession and sent her into a mild version of what’s commonly known in the field as “reality shock.”

"As a new grad RN, you go through an initial period which is kind of like a honeymoon phase. After working so hard in nursing school and passing the state boards, you begin your first job and everything seems like it’s going to be rainbows and unicorns from then on … and then reality sets in and you feel like maybe you’re inadequate or don’t have the right resources to succeed," she said.

The timing of this was not great. LaVelle was trying to navigate this new, strange feeling of inadequacy as the first cases of a new, highly contagious virus were beginning to spread overseas.

She knew she couldn’t sit in that feeling for long and worked toward pulling herself out by focusing on what she was doing well and how to build on those skills. In the areas she was struggling, it was about tapping the resources available to her, doing more research and seeking more education.

“That was a big thing that helped me, along with looking in the mirror and admitting to myself I wasn’t supposed to be perfect. The reality is nursing school teaches you a lot but it does not and, truthfully, cannot teach you everything.”

All the while, LaVelle was still focused on her goal of making the transition to a role in the Intensive Care Unit. But before she could put that plan in motion the coronavirus had made its way to Arizona and the onslaught of cases quickly consumed her hospital. 

“I ended up staying in my current unit and learning a whole lot more than I thought I ever would in my first year of nursing. I took extra classes and went out for certifications I otherwise wouldn’t have. I’ve gained so much knowledge by investing myself in my first job rather than just looking at it as a means to get to the next place.”

All of those efforts have paved the way for new and exciting opportunities. LaVelle is now serving as a preceptor for nursing students and joined Edson College’s Alumni Board

At the same time, working through her insecurities as a new nurse during a global pandemic only reinforced the humbling impact that nurses have on their patient’s lives.

“We are our patient’s lifeline. They’re not able to have visitors come into the hospital, we’re the face they see from sunup to sundown every day. Whether you’re a nursing student, recent alumni or you’ve been in the field for 25 years, as nurses, we have this awesome responsibility and privilege. I do think that’s something to be mindful of.”

Her first year as a nurse may not have gone according to plan but LaVelle is enjoying the detour and optimistic about the future.

“As much as I do feel bad for all of us new nurses since we never really knew what it was like before the pandemic, in some ways, it is an advantage because it can only go up from here.”

Amanda Goodman

Senior communications specialist, Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation