John Kennedy

John Kennedy

Conductor John Kennedy has led acclaimed performances and over 300 premieres worldwide, of opera, ballet, orchestral, and new music. As Resident Conductor of Spoleto Festival USA since 2010, Kennedy leads the Festival’s opera and orchestra programs, and also led the Festival’s recent commissioned world premiere of the opera Paradise Interrupted by Huang Ruo, as well as the American premieres of Kepler by Philip Glass, Matsukaze by Toshio Hosokawa, Emilie by Kaija Saariaho, Proserpina by Wolfgang Rihm, and Faustus, the Last Night by Pascal Dusapin.  Future engagements include the American premiere of Helmut Lachenmann The Little Match Girl at the Spoleto Festival.


As Artistic Director of Santa Fe New Music from 2001-2012, and New York’s Essential Music from 1988 to 2001, Maestro Kennedy led extensive surveys of contemporary and experimental music, and worked with many of the leading composers of our time. In 1992, at the behest of Merce Cunningham, Kennedy organized and directed John Cage’s memorial music event in New York. Notable engagements include the Lincoln Center Festival, Singapore International Festival of Arts, New York City Opera, New York City Ballet, The Santa Fe Opera, Zurich June Festival, Kanagawa Arts Festival, and Merce Cunningham Dance Company.

Maestro Kennedy has also served as Guest Conductor in Residence at Oberlin Conservatory, and is presently a member of the music department of Santa Clara University in Silicon Valley. As a composer, he has composed over 80 works including opera, orchestral, chamber, and experimental works which have been performed throughout the world. He served as artist President of the American Music Center from 2002-2005.

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