New York Youth Symphony Appoints John Kilkenny as New Executive Director

John Kilkenny Resized Headshot

Executive Director of Chattanooga Symphony and Opera and Sewanee Summer Music Festival To Take Over the Helm at NYYS

New York, NY – The New York Youth Symphony (NYYS) is proud to announce that after an in-depth and extensive search, it has appointed John Kilkenny as its next Executive Director starting in late March 2024. Mr. Kilkenny follows Shauna Quill, who was Executive Director for 12 years.

Mr. Kilkenny comes to NYYS from the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera and the Sewanee Music Festival, where he was Executive Director of both organizations. In these roles, he has had extensive experience leading orchestral, chamber music and composition programs and supporting music education for aspiring young artists. He has demonstrated a keen ability to enhance the profile of these groups by adding creative new programming, expanding diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, and increasing community outreach.

“We are thrilled to have John at the helm of our organization,” explained Bill Kapell, President of NYYS Board of Trustees. “John’s experience and impressive knowledge of music education will surely help to propel NYYS to the next level. We are excited to see what John can do as he helps to shape our future and make our mark on young musicians even stronger and more impactful.”

As Executive Director, Mr. Kilkenny will be overseeing all aspects of the organization, including programs in orchestra, chamber music, jazz, composition, musical theatre songwriting, conducting and the newest NYYS orchestra, Crescendo. His duties will include overseeing community outreach, fundraising, artistic programming and marketing.

“NYYS is an incredible organization and a fantastic match for my passion and skillset – I cannot wait to get started and write the next chapter!” explained Mr. Kilkenny. “They are one of the premiere arts education programs in the nation – leading the way in the training of young musicians. This is a dream opportunity for me!”

About John Kilkenny

Among his many accomplishments as Executive Director of The Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, Mr. Kilkenny guided their first music director search in fifteen years and created the “Classics De-Classified” concert series, which brings CSO musicians into the community and includes the works of underrepresented composers. Appointed Artistic and Executive Director of the Sewanee Summer Music Festival in 2018, Mr. Kilkenny guided this esteemed festival to new heights of artistic and financial success, with significant increases in enrollment, earned revenue, and annual giving, and expanded partnerships with numerous DEI pathway programs.

Recognized internationally as an engaging and thoughtful clinician, Mr. Kilkenny has enjoyed the opportunity to work with gifted young musicians at a wide range of institutions, including the Eastman School of Music, the Shepherd School at Rice University, University of Michigan, Juilliard Pre-College and Interlochen School for the Arts. A longstanding relationship with The Music for All has seen Mr. Kilkenny appear for many years as an evaluator and clinician for the Sandy Feldstein National Percussion Festival, and in 2019 he served as the percussion clinician for the MFA Honor Orchestra of America. John studied conducting with Anthony Maiello and began early percussion training with Jonathan Haas and William Richards. He received his bachelor’s degree at the Juilliard School under the tutelage of Greg Zuber and Daniel Druckman and completed a master’s degree at Temple University, where he studied with legendary percussionist Alan Abel.

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