The American composer and music pedagogue, Jonathan L. Chenette, received his Master of Music degree in music compostion from Butler University and his Bachelor's degree in mathematics and Ph.D. in music composition from the University of Chicago.
Jonathan Chenette’s music often focuses on relationships between people and the land, particularly in the context of the prairie Midwest where he enjoyed a 25 year career. He has served as Composer-in-Residence with the Cedar Rapids Symphony. As a composer and librettist he has also worked with the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra His compositions have involved collaborations with writers, dancers, folk musicians, farmers, visual artists, and museums as well as performing ensembles including the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Symphony, the Netherlands Radio Chamber Orchestra, the Murasaki Duo, Red Cedar Chamber Music, Chatter, and Virelai. His music has received international recognition, including performances on the ISCM World Music Days in Amsterdam, at the World Harp Congress in Vienna, at the Bishop Auckland Early Music Festival in the UK, and on an NPR national broadcast by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.
His major choral-orchestral work Broken Ground, commissioned for Iowa’s sesquicentennial and created in collaboration with six Iowa poets, premiered with the Des Moines Symphony in 1996 in a performance broadcast over Iowa Public Television as part of Iowa's sesquicentennial in 1996. Other major works include the opera Eric Hermannson's Soul (1993), the song cycle Oh Millersville! (1990), and the orchestral works Chamber Symphony for 31 Instruments (1983), Triple Feature (1994), and Rural Symphony (2000). Commissioned works include Elegy and Affirmation (2002) for the Iowa Arts Council’s “American Spirit” project memorializing the September 11 terrorist attacks, a collaboration with folk singer Bonnie Koloc on a choral-orchestral arrangement of her Love Song for Iowa for the Blanden Memorial Art Museum, an orchestration of the song cycle Oh Millersville! (1990) for the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra, a fantasy on the tune Macapay (2007) for oboe and English horn for the Iowa-based Latin American duo Calle Sur and the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony, and The Pale Queen of the Silent Night for the Londonbased early music group Virelai. Onomatopoeia (2010), based on a 60-foot-long scroll painting by Santa Fe artist Signe Stuart, premiered at the Albuquerque Museum in 2010, performed by Chatter - A Chamber Ensemble in conjunction with an exhibition on synaesthesia in American art. Onther recent work is Grandmother's Hymnal (2008) setting words by Vermont poet Sydney Lea. His compositions are available on CD's from Boosey & Hawkes, Capstone, Fleur de Son Classics, Innova, and Riverrun, and Capstone labels and in publications from Boosey & Hawkes, Theodore Presser, and Fish Creek Music, and sevewral publications in the Society of Composers Inc. Journal of Music Scores, and in a special “Music in the Midwest” issue of the Platte Valley Review (Spring 2002).
Jonathan Chenette began teaching at Grinnell College in Iowa in 1983, where he served there for 25 years, was promoted to Associate Professor of Music in 1989, and served for 4 years as Associate Dean of the College. Since 2008 he is Dean of the Faculty and Professor of Music at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. In higher education, Chenette has addressed national conferences on topics pertaining to place-based education and enhancement of teaching and learning with media technologies. His musical projects have received support through grants or fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center in Italy, the Iowa Arts Council, Grinnell College, and the Grinnell Area Arts Council, the American Music Center, the American Composers Forum (member since October 1998), and Meet the Composer.
Jonathan Chenette is married to Jeanmarie Kern Chenette, harpist and music educator, who teaches at SUNY-Dutchess Community College. They have three children: Timothy, a Kenyon College graduate pursuing a doctorate in music theory at Indiana University, Nathan, a Harvey Mudd College graduate pursuing a doctorate in mathematics at Georgia Tech, and Claire, an Oberlin double degree (Conservatory & College) graduate pursuing a composer-performer master's degree at CalArts.