Music Faculty


          American composer John M. Kennedy produces an eclectic group of work, ranging from mixed ensemble and solo pieces to multi-media compositions. In January, 2014 he collaborated with director Tanya Kane-Parry on the premiere of an original musical adaptation of Jean Paul Sartre’s “The Wall” in Los Angeles.  Upcoming premieres include a new work for the Sound Ways Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia.  Since January 2012, he has received premieres including “Lamentations: Hayasdan” for flute and piano by the Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble in Moscow; “Opaque Silence-Flash: Symbia III” for solo violin in Malta; performances of his “Smoke and Mirrors: Symbia II” for solo saxophone at the 2012 World Saxophone Congress, St. Andrews, Scotland and the 2013 Thailand International Composition Festival in Bangkok; the premiere of “Yer-“ for solo flute at the Manoel Theater, Malta, and the premiere of “From the Ground Up” by the Olympia Youth Orchestra in June 2011. His commissions include the Olympia Youth Orchestra, the Baldwin-Wallace College Wind Ensemble and the Northern Ohio Youth Orchestra. Early recognition for his work includes the Charles Ives Prize from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and a Young Composer Award from ASCAP. While attending the University of Michigan, Kennedy studied with Leslie Bassett, William Albright, Fred Lerdahl and Eugene Kurtz and received his MM and A.Mus.D in Music Composition. His work receives continuing recognition with grants from Meet the Composer, Inc. (now New Music USA), annual Standard Panel Awards from ASCAP since 1991 and Subito grants from the American Composers Forum, Los Angeles. Kennedy performs regularly on the double bass as music director of the Chamber Players of Los Angeles.  Throughout his career he has worked as a scholar and teacher, focusing recently in two areas, creolization in music and the confluence of American jazz and modernist music. He has presented at conferences in the US, UK and Canada, including the AHRC Diasporas, Migration and Identities Programme/CRONEM Conference 2009 at the University of Surrey, Guildford, UK, the 2011 West Coast Conference on Music Theory and Analysis at UC-Santa Barbara on the topic “Modernist Compositional Gesture in Wayne Shorter’s ‘Nefertiti’” and regional meetings of the College Music Society. He has lectured for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, interviewing many composers including Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Christopher Rouse, Jerry Goldsmith, Elmer Bernstein, Osvaldo Golijov and Esa Pekka Salonen. Since 1994 he has taught music composition and directed the New Music Ensemble at California State University, Los Angeles where he is a professor of music composition and chairs the Department of Music, Theatre and Dance. Dr. Kennedy has the distinction of receiving the Outstanding Professor Award for 2012-2013 at CSULA. For more information on Kennedy’s music: