John M. Kennedy
Chair and Professor of Music in Composition and Theory
American composer John M Kennedy produces an eclectic group of work, ranging from mixed ensemble and solo pieces to multi-media works (which he refers to as his “things and gadgets” series) and a group of “Songbooks” inspired by Whitman. This season “Sangre Eterna” (Song Book II) and his “Duo Concerto” for violin, clarinet and chamber ensemble will be premiered in Los Angeles and Norway, respectively, and his multi media collaboration with Robert Martin, “Cell-a-Phone Rap” will be performed as part of Soundwalk 2008 in Long Beach, California.
Recognition for his work includes the Charles Ives Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, grants from Meet the Composer, Inc., Young Composer and annual Standard Panel Awards from ASCAP since 1991, the American Composers Forum, Los Angeles and Creative Leave and Creative Activity Grants from California State University, Los Angeles. An active performer, he is music director of the Chamber Players of Los Angeles, and as a double bassist he has performed with UK spoken word artist Anthony Joseph.
After years as a self-taught Rock bassist, Kennedy began formal training at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, studying Jazz bass and arranging, and continued at the Baldwin Wallace College Conservatory, studying composition and double bass. After completing the B.Mus. in double bass performance he received a commission by the Northern Ohio Youth Orchestra (1985) and was awarded First Prize in the Ohio Federation of Music Clubs Young Composer Contest. As a fellowship student in composition at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Kennedy studied with Leslie Bassett, William Albright, Fred Lerdahl and Eugene Kurtz. An advocate for the music of our time, Kennedy is actively involved in the performance and dissemination of works of living composers. Leslie Bassett, Antoine Bonnet, William Kraft, Henry Brant, Chinary Ung and Kui Dong, have all worked with him as a conductor.
As music director of the Chamber Players-Los Angeles he has conducted works of Stravinsky and will perform “Gnarly Buttons” of John Adams next season. 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.
Dr. Kennedy holds a Master of Music and a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Michigan. His Bachelor of Music degree is from Baldwin Wallace College Conservatory.