Kenneth Hesketh has been described as “one of the UK's most vibrant voices, having a brand of modernism that reveals true love for sound itself” (International Piano). A fascination with entropy, mutation and existentialism, coexisting with a notable interest in formal design based on the influence of ‘pathways’ (labyrinths and mazes) informs his work.

He has received numerous national and international commissions from such organisations as the Fromm Foundation, the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic orchestra, the BBC Philharmonic, the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, the London Sinfonietta, the Göttinger Symphonie Orchester, the Asko ensemble, The Continuum Ensemble, Britten Sinfonia, and Ensemble Contemporain de Montréal. He has been represented at festivals from London (Proms) to the USA (Tanglewood/Bowdoin) to China (Beijing Modern Music Festival). Hesketh has worked with an array of important conductors including Sir Simon Rattle, Oliver Knussen, Vasilly Sinaisky, Vasily Petrenko, Susanna Malkki, Christoph-Mathias Mueller, Martyn Brabbins, Ludovic Morlot, Jac van Steen and Pascal Rophé, who described Hesketh as having “a poetry in the way he treats the orchestra; the mixtures, and the colours [with] a strong capacity to build a shape and a dramaturgy in a piece”.

A MacDowell Fellow in both 1999 and 2000, he was composer in residence with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic 2007–9. Awards include the André Chevillion-Yvonne Bonnaud Foundation Prize, France, a British Composer Award in 2017 for his work In Ictu Oculi and shortlisted for an Ivors Academy Award in 2020 (Uncoiling the River). A Paladino Music CD featuring Hesketh’s orchestral works was judged BBC Music Magazine Orchestra Choice of the Month and called ‘An exhilarating and beautiful synergy of form and expression […]" and Hesketh described as "a composer at the height of his considerable powers”.

Hesketh's orchestrations of Ravel and Dutilleux have been critically acclaimed, with his versions of Dutilleux’s pieces de concours for flute, oboe and bassoon, performed by the Sinfonia of London being cited in a BBC Music Magazine award in 2022. His orchestration of Ravel’s Sites Auriculaires will be performed throughout the Ravel centenary year (2025) and is published by Ravel Edition.

His work has been recorded by NMC, BIS, Paladino Music, Somm Records, Prima Facie, and Chandos labels. The first NMC recording dedicated to solely to Hesketh’s work (Wunderkammer(konzert), 2013) was devoted to large ensemble and orchestral works. A disc of Hesketh's piano music (Clare Hammond) was released by BIS in 2016 to great acclaim; In Ictu Oculi (Paladino Music) was judged one of the Top 100 disc releases in 2018 (The Times). A Britten Sinfonia release (Somm Records, 2019) spotlighted original and orchestrated works.

“Beautiful, complex and restless ... [Hesketh's] response to musical form is particularly remarkable ... The colorful orchestration and palpable verve in the individual gestures and large-scale construction make me want to return to them again and again”. (American Record Guide)