John M. Kennedy draws on his roots as a rock, jazz and classical bassist in all aspects of his career as a composer and educator. Through this richly diverse background, he has produced an eclectic group of multi-media, solo and ensemble compositions, which have been performed throughout North America, Europe and Asia.
He is Professor of Music Composition at California State University, Los Angeles, and over his 23-year career at CSULA has served as associate chair of the Music Department, chair of the Department of Music, Theatre and Dance, Special Assistant to the Dean of the College of Arts and Letters, and in 2013 he was recognized with an Outstanding Professor Award by the CSULA Academic Senate.
John spent the Spring, 2017 semester in residence at the University of Malta as a Fulbright Scholar. In this capacity, he taught music composition, presented seminars on American music and in April conducted the university wind ensemble in a performance of Terry Riley’s “In C” with a collaborative improvisation by members of the Department of Dance Studies.
While in Europe he received first performances of “Solace” for solo ‘cello by Interensemble in Padua, Italy, and a new work for winds and brass, "Homage Għar-Reżistenza: Malta, the Ohio and Santa Marija" commemorating the arrival of the SS Ohio and the Santa Marija Convoy into the Grand Harbour of Valletta, Malta during World War II. A new solo guitar piece, “Għanja ta’ lejla Maltija (Maltese Evening Song)”, also written while in Malta, will be premiered in 2018 by classical guitarist Satik Andriassian.
Over the last five years his professional activities have included premieres by the Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble in Moscow; the Malta International Music Festival and Competition in Valletta; the 2012 World Saxophone Congress, St. Andrews, Scotland, and the 2013 Thailand International Composition Festival in Bangkok. In 2014, his musical adaptation of Jean Paul Sartre’s “The Wall” was premiered in Los Angeles.
Early recognition for his work includes a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and a Young Composer Award from ASCAP. Professionally he has received grants from Meet the Composer, Inc. (now New Music USA), 25 Standard Panel/ASCAP Plus Awards, Subito grants from the American Composers Forum, Los Angeles and commissions from several regional orchestras and colleges.
In 2015, he presented at the World Saxophone Congress in Strasbourg, France, returned to Malta for teaching and participated as a juror and master class presenter in Hong Kong for the 2nd Hong Kong International Music Festival. Since 2015 he presented lecture recitals with guitarist Satik Andriassian at the Beijing American Center, the residence of the US Ambassador to Malta.
Dr. Kennedy attended the Berklee College of Music, received the BM in Applied Double Bass from the Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory and the MM and DMA in Music Composition from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he studied with Leslie Bassett, William Albright, Fred Lerdahl and Eugene Kurtz.