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.

Latest news…James will take up the position of Director of Music at Saint Paul’s Church and Choir School in Harvard Square, Cambridge MA in September 2019. Duties include directing the world-famous choir of men and boys in one of the most sublime acoustics in the US.

In the news!. . .Press clippings abound: Allan Kozinn gave a rave review of James’ Bach Birthday Bash at Merrill Auditorium in Portland. Click here to read the review! We are happy to announce that James was also featured in a February issue of The New Yorker and the March issue of Down East Magazine! Check out this fun feature article in Down East Magazine touting the excellent potential of the Mighty Kotzschmar. And, click here to read Alex Ross’ article on Sonnambula, a review of James’ February performance at the Cloisters in NYC—they next appear in Philadelphia in March for a series of concerts and return to the Cloisters on June 2. Sonnambula is on tour March 15-17 with Piffaro in the Philadelphia area, click here to read more about those concerts. And tune in here for the Time’s Arrow Festival at Trinity Church Wall Street. Concerts were live streaming on March 5, 7 & 9 at 1pm, and now available online, click here for more information. (2019)

Happy New Year!. . .the 2019 season has begun. Weekly rehearsals started up recently for Ars Musica and our Magic of Opera performance on March 10 should be fabulous as ever, featuring our quartet of vibrant Encore Young Artists. Trips to Maine are planned for January, February, and March, culminating in Bach’s Birthday Bash on March 20. Click here to listen to James on the fabulous podcast Live your Passion! We will hope to see you there: don’t miss another wonderful performance featuring the Mighty Kotzschmar. You will find him at St. Ignatius of Antioch on Sunday mornings, and they have a wonderful concert planned for Sunday, May 19th, so save the date! Sonnambula will next be performing up at The Cloisters on February 2nd, so get your tickets soon: those performances have been selling out quickly. Highlights of 2019 include Time’s Arrow at Trinity Wall Street in March, and quite a few Sundays spent at Bach Vespers at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. Wishing you a wonderful winter ahead! (2019)

Autumn Leaves
. . .though it is still 80 degrees (F not C) here in NYC, the fall season is most certainly upon us. Preparations are afoot for performances with Ars Musica, the Mighty Kotzschmar up in Maine, the NJ State Children’s Chorus, St. Ignatius of Antioch, Sonnambula at The Cloisters, Trinity Wall Street, and Bach Vespers at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (to mention a few)! We hope to see you for concerts here, there, and everywhere. (2018)

. . .June is here. The end of the season will soon wind down here in NYC, and the summer festival tour will be up and running: Texas, Georgia, Maine, Wisconsin, and Maine again! The NJ State Children's Chorus performed their season finale on June 3, and then James is traveling to Portland, then San Antonio with Sonnambula, then Atlanta for an organ recital, and then back to Maine for another organ recital. In July, James will be a featured guest teacher at the Madison Early Music Festival in addition to performing at Caramoor. August brings him to Lincoln Center, where he will be the tenor soloist with the Mark Morris Dance Group at the Mostly Mozart Festival. His August trips to Portland will be in two capacities: as curator and also as the featured performer on August 28th with brass and percussion at Merrill Auditorium in Portland, Maine on the Great Kotzschmar Organ. (2018)

May Day. . . April showers bring May flowers, and many, many concerts. During the first week of May, James was at Trinity Wall Street and St. Paul's Chapel for Total Embrace and Pipes at One, Concerts at St. Malachy's, a wedding here, a recording session there, two days of open house performances at St. Ignatius of Antioch for Sacred Sites Open House, and a quick trip to Portland. James conducted Bach's B minor Mass with the Ars Musica Chorale to a great crowd in Ridgewood, NJ at West Side Presbyterian Church with the Adelphi Orchestra. (2018)

Lent and Easter and April. . . Holy Week was marvelous at St. Ignatius of Antioch, and performing with Bach Vespers at Holy Trinity was a joy! The first weekend of March brought us two concerts with Ars Musica and the NJ State Children's Chorus, who are sounding great. If you know a child interested in singing, then please let them know about us. Starting March 20 (the second snowstorm on a Wednesday in March!), James recorded Monteverdi's Vespers with the Trinity Baroque Orchestra and the Choir of Trinity Wall Street. April is all about prep for Portland on the Mighty Kotzschmar! Click here for a feature article from Maine Today on the debut recital, and here for a feature article on The Forecaster. Click here to read Allan Kozinn's stellar review. (2018)

The New Year. . . January and February passed in a whirlwind: highlights include producing the Presidents' Day Conference for the NYC AGO (and performing as a part of the Pipe Organ Inauguration Festival at St. Paul's Chapel), filling in last minute as organist for Durufle's Requiem in Maine, and preparing Gershwin and Poulenc with Ars Musica. This first week of March we find James conducting two concerts in New Jersey, playing continuo with the Orchestra of Trinity Church Wall Street, preparing for a concert on March 8 with Sonnambula, and keeping busy at St. Ignatius of Antioch. News from Portland abounds as we anticipate James' debut at Merrill Auditorium as Municipal Organist. Click here to watch a featured interview and a behind the scenes tour of the great Kotzschmar Pipe Organ. This additional interview includes excerpts from Rossini's William Tell Overture (pink socks and all!) take a listen! (2018)

Advent and Christmas. . . Recently the featured organist on a new recording of holiday arrangements by Julian Wachner with the Choir and Orchestra of Trinity Wall Street. Read the press release here. Hear James perform this month in New Jersey with Ars Musica: conducting brass, percussion, organ, and choirs! Hear him in NYC singing with the Vox Vocal Ensemble at the Cloisters and the Guggenheim, playing continuo for Handel's Messiah with Trinity Wall Street, performing with Sonnambula, and directing and playing at St. Ignatius of Antioch for both Lessons & Carols and Christmas Eve services! (2017)

Municipal Organist . . . James was appointed the Municipal Organist of Portland, Maine, by the Mayor, following a unanimous vote from the Search Committee and the City Council. He will be the eleventh organist to hold the internationally renowned position, following a 27-year tenure by his immediate predecessor, Ray Cornils. Mr. Kennerley's official duties begin in January 2018. Together with the Friends of the Kotzschmar Organ, the Municipal Organist position is one of the most prominent and significant for the promotion of the organ, its music, and the many educational and outreach opportunities it enables.  (2017)

New beginnings . . . This September will be one of the most exciting in years! In addition to beginning the choir season at Saint Ignatius and rehearsing and playing for High Holy Day services at Park Avenue Synagogue, James has taken on some new responsibilities. First is his appointment as Music Director of the acclaimed Ars Musica Chorale in neighboring Ridgewood, NJ. The chorus is in its 52nd season and James will lead them in performances of masterpieces by Sergei Rachmaninoff, Samuel Barber, George Gershwin, and Francis Poulenc, culminating in Bach’s B Minor Mass. James also assumes responsibility for the Encore Young Artist program in addition to the NJ State Children’s Chorus. And there’s more news, too, but that will have to wait for a bit! (2017)

Summer fever . . . James is in residence as a performer and teacher at the acclaimed Madison Early Music Festival, one of the leading gatherings of its type in the US. Based at the University of Wisconsin’s Madison campus, the festival brings together some of the hottest performers from the early music scene. James is performing with Sonnambula and teaching early keyboard and Spanish choral music classes. Then it’s time for some rest, teaching, and catching up on all those compositions that are (over)due. Oh, and planning the professional choir repertoire for the church season! James’ 2016 Advent/Christmas composition, Adam lay y’bounden, has already been programmed at many church and concert choir services and concerts. (2017)

April, May, June . . . The spring concert season is in full swing! Highlights include a residency at Princeton University’s composition department with Sonnambula (in addition to making edits to the CD recorded in February), a duo recital at The Norfolk Library in historic Norfolk, Connecticut with baroque violinist Noémy Gagnon-Lafrenais, and performances with the Choir of St. Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue. There’s even more early music in May, when James is playing continuo with the Baroque Orchestra and Choir of Trinity Church Wall Street for their Handel Project, giving performances of the oratorios Solomon, Jeptha, and Israel in Egypt. Watch some of those performances again here. There's a prize for anyone who can find the point where James improvises a harpsichord solo connecting movements in E minor and Bb major! April also sees the many Holy Week and Easter services at Saint Ignatius of Antioch, the most important of the church year and brimming with organ and choral music. (2017)

March Magic . . . James has been working from the piano on Clarion’s production of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte; and will also join them on stage singing in both performances as Erster Geharnischter Mann (First Armoured Man) (March 11 & 13). James is also giving a solo organ concert in Scranton as the opening event of the NEPA Bach festival as well as concerts with violinist Mark Fewer at New York City's prestigious Baryshnikov Arts Center. This month finds James also intently at work with Trinity Church, Wall Street, where he will be performing works of G. F. Handel weekly throughout the Lenten season. (2017)

Baroque February . . . James is playing continuo for a commercial recording of Handel's Messiah with the Grammy-nominated Choir and Baroque Orchestra of Trinity Church, Wall Street, under the Direction of Julian Wachner. The recording will take place in the immaculate acoustics of Drew University concert hall in Madison, New Jersey. James will also perform as part of the American Classical Orchestra's performance of Rameau's opera, Les Indes galantes under the direction of Thomas Crawford. (2017)

At the Metropolitan Museum and in the recording studio . . . Featured for the holiday concert with MetLiveArts, James performed with the early-music ensemble, Sonnambula, both singing and playing harpsichord. The group will then record many of these works for a commercial CD release in the final week of January. James' solo harpsichord performances will be featured as the music to an online video by the The Leiden Collection, one of NYC's most important galleries featuring seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish art by the likes of Rembrandt van Rijn, Gerrit Dou,  Frans van Mieris, and others. (2017)

World première performance . . . James' new Advent-Christmas carol, Adam lay ybounden, was first performed on Sunday 4th December 2016 as part of the Advent Lessons & Carols at the Church of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, NYC, where James is Organist & Choirmaster. Check out the video on YouTube! (2016)

Tour to California . . . James recently played continuo with the Grammy-nominated Choir and Baroque Orchestra of Trinity Church, Wall Street, for a West Coast tour of Handel's Messiah, under the Direction of Julian Wachner. (2016)