John M. Kennedy

Narrative, process and spontaneity are at the core of the work of composer and bassist John M. Kennedy. His early roots as a rock and jazz bassist gave him the opportunity to explore a variety of styles and piqued his curiosity in experimentation, which has been a constant throughout his career. In recent years, he has dedicated much of his creative output to social justice themes including his recent work “Sidewalks” (2023) for singer, spoken word artist, 

instrumental ensemble and media. “Mnemonic Meditations, Book I” (2020), a set of trumpet pieces memorializing African-Americans lost to police violence, was recorded by James Ford III, trumpet, and is set for release through online audio distribution platforms in Spring 2024. In late 2024, his large-scale group improvisation called “Un Día en la Playa” will premiere. This site-specific work features 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. 

Among the international soloists and ensembles who have performed his music are vocalists Nicholas Isherwood and Jeremy Huw Williams, saxophonists William Street and Tong Yang, flutists Rita D’Arcangelo and Marianne Gedigian, ensembles Brightwork New Music, TM+, Ensemble KammerKlang, and the Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble. His work has been presented at World Saxophone Congresses in the UK, France and Croatia, the Malta International Music Festival and Competition, the Thailand International Composition Festival, the Hong Kong International Music Festival, and as a US Fulbright Scholar at the University of Malta. 

Organizations such as the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, ASCAP, Meet the Composer (New Music USA), the American Composers Forum, Los Angeles, have recognized his work throughout his career. A faculty member of California State University, Los Angeles since 1994, he received the President’s Distinguished Professor Award in 2021. While attending the University of Michigan, he studied music composition with Leslie Bassett, William Albright and Fred Lerdahl, and double bass with Lawrence Hurst and Stuart Sankey. He lives in Woodland Hills, California, with his wife classical guitarist and painter Satik Andriassian.