Faculty & Staff

John Kilkenny

Associate Director of Concert Bands | Director of Percussion Studies

Term Associate Professor of Music
  • Conductor, Symphonic Band
  • Applied Percussion
  • Conductor, Percussion Ensemble
  • B.M., Juilliard School
  • M.M., Temple University

John Kilkenny enjoys a unique career in the music world as a performer, educator and conductor. Hailed as a “particularly fine timpanist” by the Washington Post, John’s active performance schedule in the 2016-2017 season includes multiple performances of the Michael Daugherty Raise the Roof: Concerto for timpani and wind ensemble, solo and duo recitals, master classes, orchestral performances and multiple guest conducting engagements.  In 2014 he participated in the Washington DC premiere of John Luther Adams most recent large scale work, Sila: Breath of the World  with the United States Air Force Band ( a co-commission with Lincoln Center). Throughout his career, he has had the privilege to perform with a range of ensembles, including the National Symphony,Washington National Opera and Ballet, American Symphony, National Philharmonic, The Wolf Trap Center for the performing Arts Orchestra, 21st Century Consort, the Washington Bach Consort, National Gallery New Music Ensemble, Verge Ensemble,  and many others.
Recent commissions and premieres include multiple works by Alejandro Vinao, a collection of 32 duets for keyboard percussion by Nathan Daughtrey and Brett Dietz, ensemble works by Stephen Gorbos, Donald McCullough, Peter Erskine, Peter Klatzow, Victor Provost, Avner Dorman, John Luther Adams, and Nico Muhly.  He as been privileged to share the stage with an array of artists, including Robert van Sice, She e Wu, John Tafoya, Chris Deviney, Jonathan Haas, clarinetist Chad burrow, cellists Joshua Roman and Tobias Werner, flautist Karen Johnson and pianists Garry Hammond, Carlos Rodriguez, Steven Beck and Eric Huebner.

A committed educator, John is Director of Percussion Studies and Associate Director of Concert Bands at George Mason University. Under his leadership, “Mason Percussion” has become the leading university percussion program in the state of Virginia and a destination school for serious study of classical percussion. In 2011, John founded the Mason Percussion Group, an elite, audition based ensemble committed to commissioning and performing major works for percussion chamber music. Recent and upcoming highlights include collaborations with the Mason School of Dance, two feature performances the 2016 Percussive Arts Society International Convention (New Literature Showcase and Focus Day performance) the 2016 New York State Music Educators Conference, the 2014 Virginia Music Educators Conference, the 2011 Western International Band Conference, 2012 College Music Society Mid Atlantic Conference, the Sitar Arts Center and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.  Students from the program regularly appear at summer festivals (Aspen, Eastern, Sewanee, Hot Springs, Texas), world class DCI drum corps (The Cadets, Carolina Crown, Santa Clara Vanguard, Raiders) and participate actively in the artistic community of Washington DC.

John is founder and faculty advisor for the George Mason University’s International Teaching Scholars: Costa Rica  The International Teaching Scholars (ITS) Costa Rica program is comprised of two key elements – community outreaching an performance.  Students selected for participation have the opportunity to perform, teach and connect with their peers at the National Conservatory and in the SiNEM (System for National Music Education) programs in and around San Jose, Costa Rica.  The ITS program also allows Mason students to learn  real world entrepreneurial skills, participating fully in the conception, planning and implementation of a two week international tour. The program also presents participating students with the opportunity to see first hand how music education can build community, contribute to society and transform lives.

During the Summer months, John is Artist-Faculty of the internationally acclaimed Sewanee Summer Music Festival, where he teaches a select number of private students, coaches chamber music and performs with his faculty colleagues.  He is deeply involved in the Music for All organization –  first connecting with MFA as an ensemble director in 2003.  For the past several years, he has served on the panel for the Sandy Feldstein National Percussion Festival and as a faculty member for the MFA Summer Symposium.  He was founder and co-director of the University of Maryland Summer Percussion Workshop (2005-2007) and the Indiana University Percussion Academy (2008-2010).  Since 2013 he has been the percussion advisor for the Northern Virginia Youth Winds. He is in demand as a guest conductor at regional and state music festivals and as a clinician for numerous colleges and universities across the country.

John studied conducting with Anthony Maiello and began early percussion training with Jonathan Haas and William Richards.  He went on to receive his bachelor’s degree at the Juilliard School under the tutelage of Greg Zuber and Daniel Druckman.  He completed a Masters Degree at Temple University, where he studied with legendary percussionist Alan Abel.  He is sponsored by Vic Firth Mallets, Zildjian Cymbals, Remo Percussion products and is a proud Yamaha Performing Artist.
For more information please visit www.johnkilkennypercussion.com

Contact Prof. Kilkenny:  jkilken1@gmu.edu