John Kenny - Trombone/Carnyx
John Kenny, a trombonist with Donegal roots, was born in 1957 in Birmingham, Internationally recognised for his interpretation of contemporary music, he also performs jazz and early music.
As well as being a world-class trombonist, John became the first professional player of the ancient Celtic brass instrument the Carnyx in 2000 years following the reconstruction of the Deskford Carnyx by Dr. John Purser in 1993.
After 2,000 years of silence the reconstructed Deskford Carnyx was unveiled at the National Museum of Scotland in April 1993. In the same year on BBC Radio Scotland, John Purser presented an hour long documentary, The Voice of The Carnyx, and Purser and Kenny joined forces to give illustrated lectures in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Nairn.
From 1994, as John Kenny continued to experiment with playing techniques for the carnyx, he has been able to incorporate the instrument into his solo recitals. As a composer, he is particularly active in collaborations with dance and theatre, and this love of theatre is often an important feature of his recital output. After studying with Harold Nash at the Royal Academy of Music in London, and then on an Arts Council bursary with James Fulkerson, Kenny worked as an actor/musician with the Bubble Theatre in London, then made his debut as a soloist in the Purcell Room in 1982. In 1983 he was a prize-winner at the Gaudeamus International Competition in Holland, and has since given recitals and broadcast world-wide, both as a soloist and with ensembles including Ensemble Modern of Frankfurt and Ensemble Alternance of Paris, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Paragon Ensemble, and the National Orchestras of Romania and Moldova, and the Sofia Philharmonic. In 1984 he was a founder member of the TNT Music Theatre Company, collaborating with playwright Paul Stebbings in productions which continue to tour hundreds of venues throughout Europe, Russia and Japan, and Korea.
In December 2005 Kenny acted as narrator in the premier of his own dramatic setting of the Book of Revelation in modern German translation, Das A und Das O for trombone, organ, and actor for the Landshut Festival, going on to give performances in Germany & Switzerland with trombonist Michael Buettler & organist Georg Rothenaicre throughout 2006. In June 2006 Kenny premiered his cantata Nocturne for solo trombone and chamber choir in the Arctic Cathedral of Tromso in Norway, with Vokal Nord, and also composed and directed music for The American Drama Group of Europe’s production of Shakespeare’s The Taming of The Shrew, which premiered in Singapore and went on to tour the far East and Europe for ten months.
Projects in 2007 included the release of the sixth in his ongoing series of CD albums on the BML label: The Marshall Plan, in collaboration with the American poet Grantly Marshall, solo performances in France, Portugal, China (including the debut of the European Trombone Ensemble) and Bulgaria, as well as a six month period as the first ever Glenfiddich Composer in Residence in Dufftown. He received a BBC commission to write a trio for trumpet, horn and carnyx, premiered by Carnyx Brass making its televised debut before a live audience of 25,000 at Glasgow’s Proms in the Park. He established Trio d’ART with trumpeter Paul Archibald and pianist Helen Reid, during the Dartington International Summer School.
In 2008 John Kenny made his debut as a film director with the release of Secret House concluding a project begun in 2000 with film maker John McGeoch. He also commissioned and toured Scotland with a program of new works, Embracing The Unknown for trombone, harp & string quartet with harpist Catriona McKay and the Edinburgh string quartet. In September he was appointed composer in residence at the Le Corbusier convent of La Tourette on behalf of the Xenakis Institut, France.
During 2009 John Kenny composed and directed the score for TNT Music Theatre’s production of Romeo & Juliet, which toured world wide from February 2009 to April 2010. In February and March he undertook a solo recital tour of the USA, including the world premier of new works by composers Annie Guzzo and Rusty Banks in collaboration with American poets Kate Northrop and Harvey L. Hicks. Other highlights included a music theatre collaboration Küche, Diele, Bad with German composer Thomas Witzman, and a command performance on the carnyx before the Queen of Denmark at Silkeborg Museum, Jutland. In July Embracing the Unknown was released as a CD album on the Brass Classics label.
In 2010, Kenny premiered the hour long suite Tam Lin at the Celtic Connections Festival, Glasgow, in collaboration with clarinettist Dick Lee and pianist James Ross and then toured Germany, Austria and Switzerland for six weeks with TNT Theatre’s The Mystery of Edgar Allen Poe as musician, actor and composer. Other rojects included performances and recordings with La Banda Europa, True North Orchestra, Music at the Brewhouse, The Gabrieli Consort and a Carnyx Brass tour to Malta, and the premier by Trio d’ART of new works by Etienne Rolin and Peter Swan. In 2011 Kenny toured the UK with the award winning Music Theate Wales production of Greek by Mark Anthony Turnage, performed at the Salzburg Festival with Ensemble Modern, and launched the trio Pandora's Box with Miguel Tantos de Sevillano and Emily White. Projects in 2012 include lecturing and performing in Poland and Spain, the release of a duo CD/DVD album with Emily White entitled Secret House, solo performances at the Paris International Trombone Festival and the premier of a new work for the HeadSpace ensemble by Nigel Osborne at the City of London Festival.
John Kenny lives in Edinbrgh, and is a professor at both the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Glasgow.