John M. Kennedy

College of Arts and Letters
Department of Music
Office Location: MUS 236
Phone: 323/343-4084 Email: [email protected]

Recent Career Highlights

Beijing Performance

ASCAP Plus Award, 2019 (25th in career).
Premiere: "Chaconne-Part 1", TM+, Laurent Cuniot, conductor, Los Angeles, May 2019.
CD Release: "Yer-" for solo flute, on the CD "Inspired by Rita D'Arcangelo", Spring 2019.
Double Bass: Premiere of William Roper's "New-Opened Eyes-1965" for the Hear Now Festival of LA Composers,
Wende Museum, Culver City, February 2019.
Premiere: "Breath, Smoke, Crystals" for solo alto saxophone, Tong Yang, saxophone,
18th World Saxophone Congress, Zagreb, Croatia, July 2018.
Fulbright Scholar Award, University of Malta, Spring 2017.
CSULA Outstanding Professor Award, 2013.


The breadth of John M. Kennedy’s work reflects his early background as a rock and jazz bassist, an eclectic experience that led to his realization that all sound can be music, and all music is a manifestation of the sounds and experiences around us. This holistic view of music, along with travels to distant places with his wife and children, continues to provide a deepening understanding of the many voices that surrounds us all. Over the past year his work has been premiered and performed throughout the US, most significantly his “Chaconne-Part I” in Los Angeles by TM+ of France, and “Meditation” and “Fury” for solo ‘cellist Maksim Velichkin. Upcoming first performances include the complete set of six solo ‘cello pieces for Mr. Velichkin, the premiere of his solo bass piece “Syrinx: Requies I, D.M.” in March 2019, and an new work for solo guitar for Fabio Barbagallo of Italy. As a double bassist he premiered a graphic score of William Roper memorializing the 1965 Watts Riots in February 2019, and in June 2019 premiered Roper’s entire graphic score suite,  "Experience > Dream > Memory - Slivers of Time”. Kennedy has made significant contributions to the saxophone literature and two of these works were performed at the 2018 World Saxophone Congress in Zagreb, Croatia: the premiere of “Breath, Smoke, Crystals” for solo saxophone by Tong Yang of China, and “Lamentations: Hayasdan” for saxophones and piano by Dionisios Russos of Greece. As a 2017 Fulbright Scholar at the University of Malta, he was asked to write a work for brass and percussion commemorating the arrival of the SS Ohio to Malta, breaking a WW II blockade of the island nation. The work was premiered in Malta on August 14, 2017, the 75th anniversary of the arrival. Dr. Kennedy attended the University of Michigan where he earned the A.Mus.D. and M.M. in Music Composition, studying with Leslie Bassett and William Albright; the B.M. in Double Bass Performance from Baldwin-Wallace University, studying with Anthony F. Knight; and studies in Jazz Bass and Arranging at the Berklee College of Music.

Kennedy’s work with improvisation and world music styles has impacted both his teaching and work as a composer. In 2017, he and guitarist Satik Andriassian produced an online text for the teaching of world music to non-music majors. The work emphasizes cultural understanding through music, and promotes empathy for those around us.

Throughout his career Kennedy’s work has been featured in performances worldwide including his orchestral work “Portrait...” during the 1989 Salzburg Festival at the Mozarteum,  and more recently Interensemble of Padova, Italy (2017); the Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble in Moscow (2013); the Malta International Music Festival and Competition in Valletta (2012-2015); the 2012 World Saxophone Congresses, St. Andrews, Scotland, and new music festivals in Bangkok, Thailand, Kwang-ju, Korea, and Daegu, Korea. 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. His work has received continuing recognition with grants from Meet the Composer, Inc. (now New Music USA), ASCAP Plus Awards and Subito grants from the American Composers Forum, Los Angeles. Since 1994 he has taught at California State University, Los Angeles, where he was honored with an Outstanding Professor Award in 2013. For more information on his work, please visit, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Video of my good friend William Street performing my Smoke and Mirrors: Symbia II for solo alto saxophone at the World Saxophone Congress, St. Andrews, Scotland, July 2012. Bill is the ultimate expert on this piece and has performed the work on three continents.