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symphony no. 1 - innocence (in a sense)

"Kennedy’s Symphony 1 explores the human condition in terms of individuals interacting with the world and with loved ones. The score itself is graphically elegant, full of symmetries, rhythms, and parallelisms."

Taleamor Park Artist Residency

The subtitle of this symphony, Innocence (in a Sense), originated in 2005 as the title of one of my earliest works of juvenilia: a pop music album. While completing Symphony No. 1, my wife and I have welcomed our first two children into the world – two daughters, Ivy Pearl and Amelia Harper Kennedy. To see these children blossom in their first years of life, a well-spring of joy for any new parent, brought with it the reconsideration of my own growth as a colleague, friend, father, musician, and human over the last ten years. This work marks the end of my academic studies and closes that chapter of my life while simultaneously looking ahead to the one my family has started. Symphony No. 1 considers the nature of answering two, self‑imposed philosophical questions: How do we interact with the world around us? How do we protect the innocence of those loved ones we hold dear and are commissioned to sustain? The work as a whole is highly self‑referential with recurring quotations from two of my earlier works, Ford’s Theatre: An American Tragedy in One Act (2011) and In Memoriam (2012), as recurring memories or dreams. The First movement presents a question of unanimity, permeated with an unrealized goal of homophony. This movement is divided into four sections and is a nested, microcosm of a symphony within a symphony. The Second movement, in a somewhat standard scherzo form, gives a false answer to this question posed by the first movement (with a momentary resolution to D - the longterm goal of the work), attempting to outrun or outwit the question all together. Movement 3, a theme and variations, attempts to answer the question with intellectual

reason (through compositional devices of symmetry, inversion/retrogression, and canonic/fugal writing), but is quickly sidetracked by its own flight of fancy and hubris. The question is ultimately posed again in the Fourth movement, a cyclic, Adagio return of many earlier themes, for a final reconsideration and meditation. Are we to completely shut off the world around us in an effort to keep the innocence of those we love, or do we expose them to the world we have collectively created? 


Programming an approximately forty-five minute new work is a daunting task to ask of any modern orchestra. Having this in mind while constructing the work, any one of the four movements has the power and capability to be programmed as a stand alone piece, fitting the needs of any orchestral concert series. The first and final movements (15' each) work effectively as stand-alone tone poems for the first half of your program, while either of the middle two movements can be performed separately; a quirky scherzo/concerto for orchestra (Movement 2, 5'00") or a colorful fantasia (Movement 3, 10'00").

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