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William Kenlon, DMA (he/him)


  • Department of Music
  • College of Fine Arts
  • Area Coordinator, Theory & Composition
    Department of Music


Dr. William Kenlon (b. 1983), based in Washington D.C., is a composer specializing in music for chamber, choral, and jazz ensembles. Described as "pointed and groovy" (New Music Box), Kenlon's music continues to garner praise for its "lyrical personality that is original and strong" (Boston Musical Intelligencer), and for its sophisticated tonal explorations: "solid without being dense, clear without being sparse, and ever-changing without being random" (ibid). Enjoying performances across the U.S. and in Europe—most frequently in New England, but also at other locations such as Washington D.C.'s Kennedy Center and 9:30 Club—Kenlon has studied with composers from a variety of traditions and backgrounds, including John Hilliard, Jason Haney, Chuck Dotas, John McDonald, and Mark Edwards Wilson; he has also taken lessons with Forrest Pierce, Gabriela Lena Frank, Stacy Garrop, and Libby Larsen, among others. Kenlon has studied at McGill University and at the New England Conservatory, and holds the BMus degree (magna cum laude) from James Madison University, the MA from Tufts University, and the DMA from the University of Maryland, which he attended as a Flagship Fellow.

Among the ensembles that have read and/or performed Kenlon's music are the James Madison University Jazz Ensemble and Symphony Orchestra (Harrisonburg, VA); the Tufts Wind Ensemble, Jazz Orchestra, New Music Ensemble, and Symphony Orchestra (Boston); the QX Quartet (Worcester, MA); the East Coast Contemporary Ensemble (Boston); the Spektral Quartet (Chicago); Ensemble Nouveau Classical (New York); and Fifth House Ensemble (Chicago). He has received commissions from NotaRiotous (resident ensemble of the Boston Microtonal Society), the JMU Treble Chamber Choir, the Tufts Chamber Singers, mezzo-soprano D'Anna Fortunato (Boston), mezzo-soprano Lori Sen (Washington, DC), flutist Elizabeth Erenberg (Boston), Diffrazioni Sonore (Italy), and the Six Degree Singers (Silver Spring, MD), and pianist John McDonald (Boston), the last four of which resulted in commercial CD releases.

As a performer, William is a baritone; he divides his singing time between standard choral repertoire and brand new works for various vocal forces. In the latter category, he has performed many of his own song cycles and premiered works by Kevin Laba, Sid Richardson, Scott AuCoin, and Chris LaRosa. Education is also a vital part of his work as a musician; he has presented conference papers analyzing jazz improvisations, and has taught university and community courses in music theory, music appreciation, and jazz history. A more recent addition to his professional engagements has been adjudicating composition competitions, including those of Howard County Public Schools, the American Trombone Workshop, and Music Teachers National Association (regional and national). At the University of Maryland, he also served as Artistic Director of Tempo (the university's graduate student-led new music ensemble), as a member of the Arts & Humanities Graduate Advisory Board, the originator and inaugural leader of the UMD Composers' Colloquium, and as founding member and Vice President of the Eta Psi chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. He was a Visiting Professor of Music at St. Mary's College of Maryland in 2017, and since that time, he has maintained an active private studio and taught at the University of Maryland, Catholic University, and American University. He currently serves as Lecturer and Coordinator of Music Theory & Composition at Howard University.

Education & Expertise



Terminal doctorate
University of Maryland


Tufts University


James Madison University


Germanna Community College



MUSB-003: Sight Singing and Ear Training I

MUSB-004: Sight Singing and Ear Training II

MUSB-021: Elementary Music Theory I

MUSB-022: Elementary Music Theory II

MUSB-124: Form & Analysis

MUSB-125: Advanced Analysis

MUSB-151: Composition I

MUSB-152: Composition II

MUSB-351: Graduate Analysis




Music composition, theory, and pedagogy