A lover of stories and a slave to her overactive imagination, New York City based composer Kelly Fenton uses her music to do just that, tell a story. Deriving inspiration from comic books, myths, and real life stories, Kelly’s programmatic music is enriched with symbolism and honesty, and open to interpretation. While it’s the stories and people she meets that give her the motivation to compose, she strives for her music to be accessible to all listeners, regardless of whether or not they hear the story she deemed to portray.
Born in 1978 on a military base in Okinawa, Japan, Kelly grew up with her three siblings, mother, and Marine Corps Officer father, on and around numerous military bases across the United States. Attending eleven schools before graduating high school in the high desert of California, Kelly was exposed to a diverse range of people and music that continue to influence her music today.
Kelly Fenton began her foray into music composition in 2000, studying under the tutelage of bassist Steve Haines at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG). One of her first arrangements, Duke Ellington’s Fluerette Africaine, was selected for inclusion on the UNCG Jazz Ensemble’s 2001 album release, Collaboration.
During 2004-2006, Ms. Fenton studied jazz composition technique with Michael Abene and Michael Patterson at the Manhattan School of Music (MSM). She conducted and rehearsed the prestigious MSM Jazz Philharmonic (instrumentation of combined big band and full orchestra) as well as the MSM Concert Jazz Orchestra as they performed her original music. Ms. Fenton led smaller jazz ensembles in public performances of her compositions in the Student Composers’ Chamber Concert Series. Her arrangement of Blue Skies was selected for review by Maria Schneider as part of the MSM Composers’ Forum.
Ms. Fenton brings her skills in music composition into elementary, middle and high school curriculums across the United States. She composed and directed three hour-long musicals in Virginia, which were performed publicly by over one hundred public school students between the ages of five and twelve. She has been commissioned to write beginner pep band arrangements, middle and high school big band charts, and high school marching band shows, which have been performed across the country. Recently, a work for saxophone quintet + rhythm section was premiered by the University of Northern Colorado at Greeley Saxophone Quintet at the 2008 North American Saxophone Alliance Conference.
Currently, Ms. Fenton is expanding her book of charts for her New York based large jazz ensemble, the Bottomless Cup Jazz Orchestra, which performs in venues across New York City while continuing to write commissions for high school and college jazz ensembles. She is also expanding her library of her beginner band arrangements for fifth and sixth grade jazz band, some of which have recently been performed in music concerts in New York public schools.