John Kilkenny, hailed as a “particularly fine timpanist” by the Washington Post, leads a dynamic, 21st-century musical career that includes regular orchestral, solo, and chamber music performances worldwide. Recent professional highlights include multiple performances of Michael Daugherty Raise the Roof: Concerto for timpani, appearances in the Kennedy Center Juke Box Series, with the 21st Century Consort, and in recital National Gallery of Art. He tours regularly presenting solo recitals and master classes at leading universities and conservatories, including, The Eastman School of Music, Central Conservatory in Beijing, The China Conservatory, The National Institute of Music in San Jose, The University of Costa Rica, The University of Michigan, New York University, Rice, Interlochen, and many others. In 2015 and again in 2017, he led successful tours of Costa Rica, making his international conducting debut with the Banda Concertos in San Jose, Costa Rica.
Over a nearly twenty-year career, he has been regularly engaged with virtually every leading Washington DC performing arts organization, from the National Symphony to the Washington Bach Consort. He performs regularly as an extra musician with the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra.
John recently completed sixteen years as Director of Percussion Studies at George Mason University. Ensembles under his direction have appeared at national and international conferences, including VMEA, NYSSMA, PAS, and the Percussive Arts Society International Convention. In 2018, he was appointed Artistic Director of the Sewanee Summer Music Festival after serving on the faculty since 2011. His arrival at Sewanee has ushered in a new era of administrative and artistic growth, with a 25% increase in enrollment, new Academy programs for pre-college students, and a doubling of annual giving to the Festival. In March of 2022, he began his tenure as Executive Director of the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera.