He gained entrance to the University of Ulster in 1984, where he took an interest in composition. After postgraduate studies in composition at The University of Wales, Gardner dedicated his time to composing.
His first commission was 'Wanting,not wanting', for the Ulster Orchestra, in 1992 (this showed an early desire to express his response to the conflict in the North). Since then, his works have been performed worldwide.
To date, he has composed 10 works for orchestra. A CD of 3 of these works will be released by RTE in 2013. A key to the development of his ensemble writing was the relationship established with 'Concorde', directed by Jane O'leary, resulting in 7 works.
He has begun to write a series of choral works (with financial support from The Arts Council) over the past few years. Works this year include a duo 'The Little Sisters of The Red Ferrari' - Paul Roe(bass cl.) and Finghin Collins(piano), a string quintet 'Bicycles' for Altissimo, and an orchestral fanfare 'Malone Lives', to be premiered by The RTE Concert Orchestra on the 20th September as part of Dublin's Culture Night celebrations. A new work for The Crash Ensemble will be premiered during Spring, 2014. Works to be premiered in 2015 include 'Chill',for violin and piano;'Eileen Gray' for soprano saxophone and pedals;and 'Malala' for piano trio. He was elected to Aosdana, Ireland's state-sponsored academy of artists, in 2003. He lives in Dublin.