Kākū, kūpala | Fear in Neutral Buoyancy ©2015
Sean J. Kennedy (b. 1971)
Sean's premier at the world famous Carnegie Hall:
September 27, 2015*
Location: Carnegie Hall, Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Ensemble: The Youth Philharmonic International Orchestra, conducted by José Luis Gómez
June 22, 2016
Audio recording released by Kanca Media.
(FYC) GRAMMY ballot nominee 2016
Best Classical Contemporary Composition
Best Orchestral Performance
December 6, 2016
Location: Iglesia de San Pedro, Montes de Oca. San José, Costa Rica
Ensemble: Orquesta Sinfonica Intermedia de la Universidad de Costa Rica, conducted by Elvis Josue Bendaña Rivas
July 22, 2017
Location: Corning, New York, Corning Museum of Glass
Ensemble: Endless Mountain Music Festival Orchestra, conducted by Steven Gunzenhauser
Kākū, kūpala | Fear in Neutral Buoyancy (2015)
Sean J. Kennedy (b. 1971)
The American drum set player, percussionist, recording artist, author, and educator Sean J. Kennedy was born in Philadelphia. He is a multi-faceted musician who is equally accomplished on the stage, in the recording studio, and in the classroom. He has performed on drumset and percussion with Il Volo (an Italian operatic pop trio), the Strauss Symphony of America, the Philly POPS! Orchestra, the Allentown Band, and the Symphony Orchestras of Allentown, Atlanta, Jacksonville, and Lancaster. He is principal drumset player with the Cape May Pops and the Philadelphia Boys Choir & Chorale.
He has written numerous drumset, percussion and improvisation books. His drumset method book “Camp Jam: Rock Solid Drums” was nominated as Educational Drum Book of the Year in the 2011 “Modern Drummer Magazine” reader’s poll. Jazz legend Dave Brubeck stated that Sean’s drumming “… sounds like it should—it swings!”
Kākū, kūpala is the Hawaiian translation for large barracuda. The work was inspired by Kennedy’s brief but frightening encounter in August, 2001 with a four-foot barracuda while he was on a sightseeing trip to Maui to observe the great sea turtles. Barracudas are notorious for their fearsome appearance and ferocious behavior. Kennedy was looking at the turtles when he suddenly noticed the barracuda about two yards away. The ominous fish, using its innate ability to maintain buoyancy, remained motionless and stared at him. The terrified Kennedy called to a nearby friend and then looked back to see if the barracuda were still there, but it had vanished.
The composer indicated that Kākū, kūpala features percussion, is scored for full orchestra, and lies somewhere between jazz, rock, and classical music. It paints a sound picture by using specific rhythms and pitches combined with moments of free improvisation. The three percussionists symbolize his emotions before, during, and after his encounter with the barracuda. They add critical elements of danger and surprise to make the piece come alive for both performers and audience by switching frequently between specific rhythms notated on the score and moments of free improvisation.
The Youth Philharmonic International Orchestra, conducted by José Luis Gómez, premièred Kākū, kūpala at Carnegie Hall on September 27, 2015.