Kevin Laskey is a composer, percussionist, and music writer based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 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 led to his modus operandi—finding common ground between seemingly disparate musical traditions.
Kevin’s compositions live in the netherworld between highly-notated concert music and more vernacular styles, drawing from jazz, American folk music, and classical idioms alike. He has written for many acclaimed artists, including So Percussion, PRISM Quartet, Yarn/Wire, Warp Trio, Bearthoven, Exceptet, trombonist Ray Anderson, The San Francisco Choral Artists, and the Stony Brook Contemporary Chamber Players, in addition to composing for film and theater.
As a percussionist, Kevin has worked with a variety genre-bending composers, originating the drum set parts to Anthony Davis’s chamber opera Lear on the Second Floor and Laurie Altman’s In Another Time for orchestra and jazz ensemble. He has been featured as a performer at the So Percussion Summer Institute, premiering works by Dan Trueman and Jason Treuting. In 2011, Kevin was featured as a marimba soloist with the Princeton University Orchestra, performing Ney Rosauro’s Concerto for Marimba & String Orchestra. Kevin also plays in a variety of jazz groups in and around New York and Philadelphia.
Kevin holds an MA in music composition from Stony Brook University and a BA in music from Princeton Unversity, where he was awarded the Edward R. Cone award in music, and the Louis Sudler Prize in the Arts. His teachers have included Dan Trueman, Steve Mackey, Peter Winkler, Margaret Schedel, and Ray Anderson. He is currently pursuing a PhD in music composition from the University of Pennsylvania where he studies with James Primosch, Jay Reise, and Anna Weesner.
Kevin is also a public radio junkie, having interned for NPR’s Weekend All Things Considered program, hosted by Guy Raz. He is the editor and podcast host of Jazz Speaks, the official blog of The Jazz Gallery, one of New York’s premiere venues for new improvised music.