Justin Akira Kono is a percussionist, accompanist, conductor, and arranger of uncommon range. Since entering the business, he has maintained an active schedule as a theater musician and session player. He has been heard playing drums and percussion with companies like Porchlight Music Theater, MapKap Productions, Chicago Summer Opera, Mercury Theater, BoHo, and NightBlue to name a few. Justin has also found a place behind the piano as a rehearsal accompanist for productions of Rent, All Shook Up, Chicago, Man of La Mancha, and Bonnie and Clyde. He also frequently accompanies recitals for private vocal studios.
In 2008, Justin was selected by founding member of Styx, Dennis DeYoung, to be the drummer for his musical, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. In 2012, Justin teamed up with the guys behind the internet sensation, A Very Potter Musical for another fan favorite, Holy Musical Batman!
Since 2016, Justin, along with other JAM founders Aaron Kaplan and Michael Goldman, have been the composers and arrangers in residence for the Highland Park Player's annual TYA production. Their production of Winnie The Pooh, containing new music and lyrics by the trio, won the 2016 Broadway World Chicago award for best TYA Production.
Justin is the contemporary music director at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Downers Grove where he leads the praise band, arranges worship music, and serves as a choir conductor and accompanist (and occasional organist). He is also a staff arranger and percussion coach for Glenbrook North and South High Schools.
Known for his unmistakable sound, versatility, and energy on drum set, Justin has been a band leader for some of Chicago’s finest up and coming musicians from the drums. Recently, he has discovered an interest in keyboard programming and has designed for Big Deal Productions, Glenbrook North and South High Schools, and The Highland Park Players. Justin does not wish to endorse higher education nor the particular institutions with which he was affiliated, but rest assured, he has endured many years of it.