John M. Kennedy

College of Arts and Letters
Department of Music
Office MUS236



Recent Career Highlights

Beijing Performance

2021 CSULA President's Distinguished Professor Award. 

ASCAP Plus Award, 2021 (27th in career).

"Monument li Dwerja" for baritone and piano, premiered November 10, 2021, by Welsh baritone Jeremy Huw Williams and

US pianist Paula Fan, CSULA Music Recital Hall. 

"Inserts" for one or more double basses, premiered October 14, 2021, by the double basses of the CSULA String Orchestra

with bass instructor Dr. Scott Worthington, CSULA Music Recital Hall.

European Premiere: "Chaconne-Part 1", Ensemble Kammerklang, Thomas Rimul, conductor, Norway, October 2020.

Publications: "Proto-HautoAho (moto perpetuo)" and "Inserts" for solo double bass, Recital Music, UK, Winter 2021.

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, and an entire career of exploring new ideas and concepts in his music. In recent years his work has taken on themes of social justice culminating this season with two large scale projects, "Sidewalks" for singer and ensemble that will promote empathy for those around us, and a group improvisation called "Un Día en la Playa", a site specific piece with two ensembles positioned on opposite sides of the border wall at El Muro en la Playa, Tijuana, Mexico, and Border State Beach, Imperial Beach, California, USA. This work is part of a CSULA American Communities Program Fellowship exploring the theme of “Resistance.”

Throughout the global pandemic Kennedy remained active as a composer completing a set of trumpet pieces memorializing African-Americans lost to police violence (Mnemonic Meditations, 2020). Additionally he has completed “Chaconne-Part 2” for mixed sextet, “Triticco Siciliano” (2020) for solo guitar, “Folios I” (2021) for indeterminant percussion quintet, “Proto-HautaAho-moto perpetuo” (2020) and “Inserts” (2021) for solo double bass, and “Matins” (2020) for solo piano. Recent premieres include “Matins” by Canadian Pianist Heather Taves during a livestream recital at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Canada in April, 2021 (with 5 original paintings by Satik Andriassian), and the premiere of “Proto-HautaAho-moto perpetuo” (2020) in June 2021 by Susan Hagen at the International Society of Bassists virtual conference. These “pandemic” works are in the process of being recorded by artists world-wide, and will be released on streaming services in late 2021.

Recent career highlights include the World and European premieres of Chaconne-Part 1 by the French group TM+ (May 2019) and Ensemble KammerKlang in Norway (August 2020), respectively. In 2019 Italian flautist Rita D’Arcangelo released his “Yer-(2012)” for solo flute and performed the work in a series of concerts in the US before the lockdown in Spring 2020. As a double bassist he premiered William Roper’s “New-Opened Eyes-1965” memorializing the Watts Riots in February 2019, and in June 2019 premiered Roper’s entire graphic score suite,  "Experience > Dream > Memory - Slivers of Time”.  In April, 2021 he returned to double bass and electric bass performance in Jack Van Zandt’s opera “The New Frontier” at the CSU Fullerton New Music Festival. This project will continue through 2021 with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

His international profile includes premiers and performances in over a dozen countries on 4 continents, a Fulbright Scholar award to teach at the University of Malta in 2017, and service on competition juries in Europe and Hong Kong. While in Malta he was asked to write a work for brass and percussion commemorating the arrival of the SS Ohio, 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. Kennedy has made significant contributions to the solo 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. 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 been recognized by Meet the Composer (Now New Music USA), ASCAP Plus Awards and Subito grants from the American Composers Forum, Los Angeles.  At the University of Michigan, he studied music composition with Leslie Bassett and William Albright, and double bass with Lawrence Hurst and Stuart Sankey. A faculty member of California State University, Los Angeles since 1994, he received the President’s Distinguished Professor Award in 2021.

For more information on his creative activity, please visit, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Examples of his work can be found at Soundcloud, YouTube