Originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia, musician, composer, and sound designer Frederick Kennedy is fascinated by the ways in which improvisation informs design, how physical space shapes our relationship to hearing and storytelling, and how technology can affect the creative act. His primary areas of work and research involve interdisciplinary collaboration with theater, dance, and video artists. Equally at home in the free-jazz avant-garde, contemporary electro-acoustic chamber music, or modern pop music production, Frederick believes in a radical elimination of boundaries between genre.
Recent projects include creating original music and designing sound for Seize the King for Classical Theater of Harlem, with choreography by Tiffany Rea-Fisher (NY Times’ Critic Pick); overseeing the audio recording and designing sound for Lincoln Center Theatre's first ever audio play, The Forbidden City; the commission Rest, created for New York’s Ma-Yi Theater company as an online audio experience in response to life under Corona virus lockdowns; the world premiere of Noah Diaz's Richard & Jane & Dick & Sally at Baltimore Center Stage; Nambi E. Kelly’s Native Son, produced by the Acting Company at the Duke Theater in New York City; Twelfth Night, at Yale Repertory Theater in New Haven, CT, with choreography by Byron Easley (CT Critics Circle best sound design nomination); The Veil Widow Conspiracy, with the National Asian American Theater Company; and Suzan-Lori Parks’ Father Comes Home from the Wars, parts 1, 2, and 3, at American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. Aside from regional theater and dance collaborations throughout the Northeastern United States, Frederick’s longtime working relationship with Canadian video artist Pierre St-Jacques has resulted in gallery showings in Canada, Europe, China, Japan, and Scandinavia.
As a musician, he has worked as a drummer and percussionist with Ken Thompson’s Slow/Fast ensemble (Bang on Can All Stars), Grammy winner Zach Brock’s Magic Number ensemble, New York Klezmer virtuoso David Krakauer, Latin Grammy–nominated Latin recording artist Pamela Rodriguez, Guggenheim Award–winning Canadian jazz artist Anna Webber, and the experimental electroacoustic improvising ensemble Gray Code, aside from many others, including his own ensemble Ocean Sounds, which received a 2012 ECMA (East Coast Music Award) nomination for Jazz Recording of the Year.
As a teacher, Frederick has served on the faculties of the Yale School of Drama, the City University of New York, and Connecticut College, teaching composition and sound design and giving individual instruction in composition and music production. He has been an invited guest artist at numerous schools, including Yale School of Drama, Temple University, Brown, the City University of New York, Texas A&M, Universidad San Francisco de Quito (Ecuador), Université de Montréal (Quebec, Canada), and the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Currently, he is Assistant Professor of Sound Design at the University of Minnesota Department of Theater Arts and Dance.
Frederick holds an MFA in sound design from Yale School of Drama, and a Bachelor of Music in jazz studies from the University of North Texas College of Music.
Fellowships and awards include artist development grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, the 2018 Burry Fredrik Fellowship in Design, and a Robert Merritt award for best original sound and music for the play Brighter than the Light of the Sun, an exploration of the entwined stories of Louis Riel and Louis B. Mayer.
He is represented by Bret Adams Artists, Ltd., in New York City.
Member United Scenic Artists, Local 829, IATSE