John Coons

Soloist, composer-songwriter, conductor, music educator

A native of Maine, musician John Coons is forging a genre-defying career that has included choral work, opera roles, performing with Ben Folds and the Pittsburgh Symphony, Seattle Opera, and singing the national anthem for the Red Sox at Fenway Park. His resume provides a snapshot of his wide-reaching interests, which range from solo work and songwriting to theater and music education. 

 John Coons as Composer/Songwriter


John Coons first felt the itch to compose while studying theory under Dr. Joseph Packales, who upon being shown a few compositions, encouraged him to keep writing.  During his time at the University of Southern Maine, John studied composition under Dr. Daniel Sonenberg, who provided a performance outlet with the USM's Composer's Ensemble. He went on to compose incidental music for the USM Theater Department's main stage production of Last Easter, arranged Czech folk music for the European tour of the USM Chamber Singers, and as part of his orchestration studies under John Boden, conducted a reading of an original work for quintet by members of the Portland Symphony Orchestra. John also found a welcoming audience for his choral compositions in his role as Senior Choir Director at the First Parish Congregational Church of Yarmouth, Maine, which frequently performed his original works during his tenure.

In the more popular music realm, John cut his songwriter teeth as lead singer for the rock band, The Common Senses. During his time with the group, his song “Are You Happy Now?” was selected to represent the state of Maine in the annual John Lennon Songwriting Competition. He also performed original songs/vocalises with the USM Vocal Jazz Ensembles when studying vocal jazz under Chris Humphrey and Michelle Hansen Snow.

In 2010, John began focusing more on developing a repertoire of original singer-songwriter material and in 2011, began playing his first solo shows. His first EP of original songs, recorded with L.A. based artist Tim Butterworth, is forthcoming. He recently collaborated with Berklee professor Omar Thomas, setting an original text to one of his instrumental works.

In 2012, John completed work on an original one-man show, “6 Months for 6 Weeks,” which was presented as part of PORTFRINGE 2012 in Portland, Maine. A semi-autobiographical show built around original songs, it is an honest, funny, and heart-breaking new piece of queer theater. “6 Months” tells the story of two twenty-something men in Portland, Maine, their six-week “relationship with an expiration date” and its aftermath, set against 2009's “Question 1” same-sex marriage debate. Alternatively tender and satirical, it looks at the definitions and value we place on relationships in our changing world. CityArts magazine says, "As a singer, Coons is powerful, a tenor who has performed with the likes of Ben Folds, Boston Symphony POPS and the Seattle Opera. As a songwriter, he’s funny and audacious."