Kenneth Dempster was born in Edinburgh in 1962. He began his advanced musical training at Edinburgh Napier University before going on to study at the Royal Academy of Music (RAM) in London.
Dempster was awarded a variety of scholarships which enabled him to travel to the United States to study at Yale University. During his time at Yale, he studied with many eminent composers: Jacob Druckman, Martin Bresnick, Louis Andriessen, Earle Brown and Frederic Rzewski.
On returning to Britain, he studied further with Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and James MacMillan on the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s Course for Young Composers.
Since completing his studies, he has received commissions for new pieces of music from a wide variety of ensembles and organisations.
His orchestral work, Seven Fans for Alma Mahler, commissioned by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, was widely acclaimed by reviewers and audiences alike. He also conducted the first performances of a large-scale community opera on the subject of Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt, commissioned by the St. Magnus Festival to mark the 70th birthday of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. His music has been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio Scotland.
He has received noted recognition for his compositions: the Inter-Collegiate, Theodore Holland Award at the RAM, two Yale University prizes, the Cornelius Cardew Composition Prize and a Creative Scotland Award. He is currently Composer in Residence at Edinburgh Napier University.