James Kennerley

conductor, keyboardist, composer, tenor

Welcome to the website of James Kennerley, the NYC-based English conductor, keyboardist, tenor, and composer. Please enjoy the content, and don't hesitate to get in touch with any questions or booking inquiries.

A prize-winning composer, James specializes in music for organ and choral ensembles, and for works that incorporate historic instruments. His compositions assimilate soundscapes drawn from a diverse range of techniques and traditions such as serialism, plainchant, minimalism, counterpoint, and neo-Romanticism. His studies in composition took place at Cambridge University. For information on commissioning James, please click here.

To order scores of James' compositions, please visit our online store by clicking here.

James' 2012 piece Lauda novella was featured as part of the Twelfth Night Festival at Trinity Church, Wall Street, and was commissioned and performed by Grammy-nominated countertenor, Ryland Angel. It weaves a thirteenth-century poetic tradition with baroque musical forms such as the chaconne and Fuxian counterpoint with modal harmonies and plainsong-like recitations.

James was awarded first place in the Association of Anglican Musicians 2013 composition competition. His winning hymn tune, Norfolk Street, is subsequently due to be published.

His sacred works are many and varied in scope, and represent the bulk of James' output. His setting of the popular Advent-Christmas carol, Adam lay ybounden, has garnered much attention since its première in December of 2016. Click here to listen to that first performance.

James' large-scale mass setting, Missa Sanctae Mariae Virginis – literally “Mass of Saint Mary the Virgin” – was composed for the Episcopal church of Saint Mary the Virgin, New York City, where the composer was Music Director & Organist from 2008 to 2013. The Kyrie movement was composed in 2016. The title makes reference to the name of the church, but also makes reference to the principal source of inspiration: two ancient plainsong melodies that accompany Marian texts (Salve regina and Ave maris stella).

The Mass is composed in a vain that is influenced by the great parody Masses of Renaissance masters Palestrina, Lassus, and others. Nods are also made to the twentieth century, and particularly to the music of Herbert Howells and the Anglican tradition, and also to Jean Langlais, Olivier Messiaen, and similar French musical trends. It features a wide range of moods, from scintillating and exotic harmonies to thrilling rhythmic passages. Click here to listen to the Gloria in excelsis.

The work is composed for 8-part choir with solo sections for additional voices from within the choir. The Mass can be performed complete as part of a church service. Likewise, any of the movements will work as independent compositions which makes them suitable for concert performance. It is available for purchase here.

An engaging and versatile teacher, James was part of a workshop for the composers of Princeton Sound Kitchen at Princeton University in 2016. The result will be an opera, composed collaboratively for historical instruments, and performed in 2017.

Several of James' compositions are in preparation for publication. Please contact us directly with any questions. In the mean time, click here to visit James' online sheet music store to view available titles.