Originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia, sound designer, composer, musician, and educator 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.
Current projects include Rest, a personal audio meditation commissioned by New York City’s Ma-Yi Theater Company that explores the nature of silence and space in response to the pandemic. Rest is organized around a sequence of sonnified renderings of data from seismograms throughout the Northeastern United States and blends that with binaural and ambisonic recordings of pandemic life collected throughout the fall of 2020. Another ongoing project is the in-process devised opera I Am Alan Turing, for which Frederick is a company member. I Am Alan Turing, which recently presented one of its first public-facing demonstration at the Associated Designers of Canada’s 2021 "Level Up" symposium, presents a new model for creating opera, drawing on cryptography, mathematics, artificial intelligence, and Turing’s own devastating story.
Other recent theater design work includes creating original music and designing sound for 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, The Bacchae, for Classical Theater of Harlem, with choreography by Tiffany Rea-Fisher (NY Times’ Critic Pick), 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, Grammy-nominated Latin recording artist Pamela Rodriguez, Guggenheim Award-winning Canadian jazz artist Anna Webber, and the experimental electroacoustic improvising ensemble Gray Code. His own ensemble Ocean Sounds received a 2012 ECMA (East Coast Music Award) nomination for Jazz Recording of the Year for Live at the Ship’s Company Theater, released on Armored Records.
Frederick has been a lecturer at Yale School of Drama, Connecticut College, and the City University of New York, teaching composition and sound design and giving individual instruction in composition and audio production. He has been an invited guest artist at numerous schools, including Temple University, Brown, Texas A&M, Universidad San Francisco de Quito (Ecuador), Université de Montréal (Quebec, Canada), and the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
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.