New England-based Composer, Musician, Music Teacher, and Conductor
I have multifaceted work in music, composing and arranging, bassoon performance, teaching music and humanities, conducting and writing music reviews. I work in schools, churches, and concert settings.
Music Composition & Arranging
Currently, I am composing a new musical Mark the Halls (my fifth!), and working on a variety of Flex-instrumentation works for younger bands. These pieces are available on JWPepper.com and can be seen on the Works List section at my website: www.sakennedymusic.com.
In 2020, I released two albums of original piano music. Improvs for Hope is a collection of free improvisations. Off 2 Broadway features a variety of piano versions of songs from my musical theater pieces as well as unused material from abandoned projects. These are both available at my website and other platforms as our an earlier album of original piano pieces, Reflections.
Parma Records released my Marian Sonata for Violin and Piano in May 2019 on the Navona Label. It features a performance by violinist Vit Musik and Lucie Kaucka.
The Century College Chamber Orchestra commissioned an original work Convergence, and the Century College Community Band has premiered two works over the past few years including more recently the Toccata for Band (November 2019). The Woodbury Orchestra and Chorus also used a number of my original arrangements in their concert programs.
The opening segment from The Magnificent Ambersons was premiered at the MN Fringe Festival (August 2014). Two pieces from The Jurgens File were premiered at the New Musical Theater Exchange’s Showcase (February 2013).
My Festival Psalm was a runner-up for the ALCM’s Raabe Prize.
I perform as a bassoonist with the Cambridge (MA) Symphony Orchestra, the Lowell Philharmonic, and as a guest with the UMASS-Lowell Symphony. When in Minnesota, I played with the Amadeus Chamber Symphony, the St. Cloud Community Band, the Century College Chamber Orchestra, the Century College Community Band, the Woodbury Orchestra and Chorus, and as a sub for the East Metro Symphony. I did some pit orchestra work for local art schools as a guest bassoonist as well. I served as assistant conductor for the Woodbury Chorus and Orchestra.
I sub as a church musician in the New England area playing both organ and piano as needed and directing choirs as the need arises.
I am a member of the International Film Critics Society and have been reviewing film music for over two decades. Reviews appear in Film Score Monthly, The Film Music Review (Online), and on my blog Cinemusical. The latter focuses on classical music reviews as well with many artists and composers often sending their work for me to comment on in this forum. You can find quotes from my reviews peppered throughout the internet on composer websites!
My earliest musical education came playing my dad’s Lowery home organ and those old Magnus Chord Organs. From there I headed off to elementary school where I first started taking violin lessons and eventually added bassoon as well. I won a 2nd Grade Music Talent Award for playing an original composition (which eventually ended up in a more elaborate version on my Reflections CD years later). When we relocated to MN, I focused extensively on bassoon and received a scholarship to Mankato (MN) State University where I completed my BA Degree
I pursued my masters and doctorate at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. While studying musicology there, I also took composition lessons with Roger Hannay (a student of Howard Hanson). Since I enjoyed teaching, I decided to enter non-profit work with youth and took a break from academia while pursuing composition privately. This has led to some work with groups such as the Piedmont Youth Orchestra where I served as a wind coach.
From there it was off to UNC-Chapel Hill where I intended to study musicology, blending my interest in cultural humanities with history and music. I also continued my composition studies there and had multiple performances of my work (most prominent work from this period was a Trumpet Sonata). It did not take long for the musicians there to discover I played bassoon and I was then asked to sub as I could for ensembles there.
I completed my Master’s and began work on my doctorate completing my specialty and language exams, but then took a break from academia for non-profit work. During that time, I continued composing and even wrote the “Minstrel Music” entry for Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart.
Non-Music Professional & Personal Pursuits
I am originally from North Dakota but have lived in almost each region of the country. Besides having a large library of film music and classical recordings, I am also an avid board game enthusiast with around 600 games in our personal library. My wonderfully supportive wife, Erica Kennedy, is an ELCA pastor. We share our home with two cats.