Biog

John Kefala Kerr is a British-Greek composer, sound artist and writer. A prize-winning graduate of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and the University of Sussex, John has had work presented at festivals and venues in the UK, USA, Europe and Japan, including the Cathedral of St John the Divine, New York; Wigmore Hall; St John’s Smith Square; South Bank Centre, London; BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art; Select 107 FM; Teatro Rossini, Pesaro; Atelier St Ann, Brussels and De Singel, Antwerp.

John’s output includes instrumental, vocal, and multimedia works. These are often conceived in close proximity to everyday events, situations and circumstances. His cycle of four site-specific operas, Beyond Belief, for instance, was commissioned in the wake of the Cumbrian foot and mouth crisis. Sited respectively in a sports centre, church, cinema and marquee, the cycle featured a cast of over 100 professional and non-professional performers, including magicians, hairdressers, piano tuners and gardeners.

John is a past recipient of the Dio Award, the Ralph Vaughan Williams Trust Contemporary Music Prize and the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival Composer’s Prize. In 2003 he received the £10,000 UK Arts Council Encore Award, and in 2006 his work for orchestra and mixed chorus, Panagia, won the gold medal in the Volos International Composition Competition.

Collaboration credits include, Tandem Dance, Northern Stage, David Massingham Dance, Quarantine Theatre Co. Grand Gestures Dance Collective, Merlin Films and the animator Maki Kobayashi.

Past work includes Eight Bells, an elegy for violin and soundtrack developed in collaboration with marine scientists at the Dove Marine Laboratory, and a piece for brass ensemble written in response to working with prisoners in HM Prison Frankland.

John’s ‘sound opera’, A Sign in Space, was commissioned by Durham Cathedral and received a Journal Culture Award in 2012. His ‘musical fiction’, Thimio’s House, was published by Perfect Edge Books in December 2013. John’s site-specific sound installation Book of Bells, created for the 2013 Lindisfarne Gospels Exhibition, toured UK festivals, including Sonorities, Belfast and BEAST, Birmingham. While composer-in-residence at the UK National Railway Museum, John developed Steamsong, a multimedia opera which was premiered at BRASS: Durham International Festival.

In 2017 John developed Blood Choir, a work for mixed voices and soundtrack in which performers test their own blood glucose levels to determine the sung notes. In 2018 John was appointed composer-in-residence at Newcastle’s historic Grainger Market where he developed a mini opera (Arcadia) in one of the vacant shop units. John recently completed Variations on a Theme of Agatha Christie for the National Centre for the Written Word and is currently working on Sanctuary, a bird-inspired installation commissioned by the Amble Sculpture Trail on the Northumberland coast.