Kevin Laskey is a composer, percussionist, and music writer based in New York City. When he was in middle school, Kevin wrote an essay comparing his two favorite musicians, Aaron Copland and Buddy Rich, noting superficial similarities, like how they led bands with sticks, and slightly less superficial ones, like dramatic contrasts in mood. Not only was this Kevin’s first foray into music criticism, but it also suggested a future artistic preoccupation—seeking points of contact between different musical traditions.
Kevin’s compositions live in a netherworld between notated concert music and vernacular styles, drawing from classical, jazz, and American folk idioms alike. He has written for many acclaimed performers, including, PRISM Quartet, Yarn/Wire, the International Contemporary Ensemble, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, So Percussion, Daedalus Quartet, Variant 6, Warp Trio, Bearthoven, Exceptet, Shizuka Duo, trombonist Ray Anderson, pianist Amy Williams, saxophonist Kevin Sun and The San Francisco Choral Artists, in addition to composing for film and theater. His current projects include The Snow, Like Me, an evening-length song cycle featuring soprano Molly Netter and poetry by Jill Osier, and Queen of the Goths, a new opera with librettist Jacqueline Goldfinger.
As a percussionist, Kevin has worked with composers Anthony Davis, Eve Beglarian, Ted Hearne, and Laurie Altman on genre-bending works with drum set, and has performed on the premieres of large-scale pieces by David Lang, John Luther Adams, and Dan Trueman. In 2011, Kevin was featured as a marimba soloist with the Princeton University Orchestra, performing Ney Rosauro’s Concerto for Marimba & String Orchestra. Kevin continues to play in a variety of groups in and around New York.
Kevin holds a PhD in music composition from the University Pennsylvania, an MA in music composition from Stony Brook University, and a BA in music from Princeton University. His teachers have included Anna Weesner, James Primosch, Peter Winkler, Margaret Schedel, and Dan Trueman. He has taught music theory and composition at New York University, Ursinus College, West Chester University, and the University of Pennsylvania, and musical theater orchestration through the Princeton University Triangle Club.
Kevin is also a public media junkie, having interned for NPR’s Weekend All Things Considered program. He has contributed writings on music to Music & Literature, and has presented academic papers at conferences across the United States. He is the editor of Jazz Speaks, the official blog of The Jazz Gallery, one of the world’s largest ethnographies of contemporary jazz and improvisation.