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.


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. Click here to listen on organlive.com. 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!

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. Read more here!

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.