Ten years ago at the age of 18, Georgia College Alumnus John Hennecken, ’10, knew he wanted to compose music. His love of the craft started when he came to GC and increased over time. However, his love for music began at an earlier age.
“Initially, I was inspired by the composers of the pieces that I played in piano lessons growing up, especially Beethoven and Chopin,” says Hennecken. “Their music had a beauty, intensity and passion, which I had never heard before.”
Upon graduating summa cum laude from Georgia College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in music, he went on to receive his master’s degree from the University of Georgia. Now, a doctoral composition student at UGA, he is currently finishing his dissertation, which he will defend in July. Hennecken was also a composer in residence at Mercer University from 2013 to 2014, where he was commissioned to compose a new work for a trombone quartet. In 2014, he was also commissioned by conductor Shizuo Z. Kuwahara and Symphony Orchestra Augusta to write a new orchestral work, “Everything Beautiful in Its Time,” which was performed in Japan and Augusta.
Hennecken also twice attended the European American Musical Alliance summer program at La Schola Cantorum in Paris, France.
“One of the most memorable experiences I had in Paris was the premiere of my “Agnus Dei” by the EAMA Chorale,” he reflects. “The things I learned there help me every day, especially intense training in counterpoint and analysis lectures, which have greatly influenced how I think about music.”
In addition to composing music, Hennecken also teaches composition, music technology and electroacoustic music composition at GC and music theory at UGA. He is also president of the UGA Student Composers Association.
“Georgia College is fortunate to have John Hennecken as one of our adjunct faculty, teaching electronic music and composition,” says Dr. David Johnson, assistant professor of music at GC. “He is a terrific composer with a unique understanding of how to compose for large orchestra and concert band.”
Hennecken’s music has been performed in the United States, France, Italy, Belgium, Poland and Japan by ensembles such as Wet Ink, New Ear, (MOD)ular Ensemble, Redshift Saxophone Quartet, Mercer University Faculty Brass Quintet, Bulldog Brass Quintet, Symphony Orchestra Augusta, Takarazuka City Symphony Orchestra, Georgia Southern Symphony and Mercer-Macon Symphony Youth Orchestra. He has worked with conductors Shizuo Z. Kuwahara, Adrian Gnam, Cliff Towner, Jennifer Morgan Flory and Amy Wilson. His “Resonant Fission” for horn and electronics can be heard on the recently released album “Sonic Flux,” under the Empire’s label.
Select honors and awards include: 2015 Morton Gould Young Composers Award Finalist, 2013 International Trumpet Guild New Music Concert selection, 2013 American Prize semifinalist in chamber and choral music, 2013 Olin Parker Composition Competition winner and 2012 Southeastern Composers League Philip Slates Memorial Composition Contest winner.
Although hearing the music being performed is exciting to Hennecken, he loves the everyday writing process.
“By writing music, I hope to create something that is the best of what I have to give, and which I can only aspire to live up to,” he states.
Although Hennecken just finished his first symphony, which he wrote for UGA’s Hodgson Winds, directed by Cynthia Johnston Turner, he is working on his next piece—a euphonium sonata, commissioned by euphonium players Chris Leslie and Cale Self and to be published by Potenza Music. He is also looking forward to writing his second piece for an exciting chamber group at UGA, called MOD(ular) ensemble led by saxophonist Connie Frigo and trombonist Josh Bynum.
Hennecken remains enthusiastic about writing music whether its orchestra, wind ensemble, chamber groups, electroacoustic or other musical mediums. “My music tends to explore a wide range of musical elements and emotions,” he concludes. “I write the music that I believe in and hope that it communicates to the listener in a meaningful way.”