Dr. Kevin McBrien is passionate about connecting people with classical music. Whether through program notes, pre-concert talks, or blog posts, he seeks to illuminate historical and musical context and foster a more curious, lighthearted approach toward the art form.

Kevin received a PhD in musicology from UC Santa Barbara in 2022, with a dissertation that examines moments of intersection and identity-making between European émigré musicians and Los Angeles orchestras in the 1930s and 40s. He also holds a Master’s in musicology from UCSB and a Bachelor’s in music history & literature from Cal State Long Beach.

Kevin currently serves as the Editorial Assistant for The Cleveland Orchestra. Prior work experience includes three summers at the Aspen Music Festival and School (as Assistant Program Book Editor) and teaching music appreciation courses at UC Santa Barbara. In addition, he spent a summer in the Library of Congress’s Music Division as part of their Junior Fellows Program.

An avid writer and public speaker, Kevin has written program notes for The Cleveland Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, Philharmonic Society of Orange County, and Chamber Music Northwest, among others, and has presented pre-concert talks for the Aspen Music Festival and School, South Coast Symphony, and UC Santa Barbara.

Kevin was born and raised in Orange, California, and holds performing experience as a horn player, chorister, and arm-waver (conductor). When not listening to music, attending concerts, or “nerding out” about useless music history facts—did you know Shostakovich saw the 1972 London production of Jesus Christ Superstar and loved it so much that he saw it a second time?—he can be found reading, catching up on podcasts, watching movies, taking long walks around the neighborhood, and enjoying time with family and friends.

A few random things about Kevin…
  • (Three) favorite composers: Bach, Stravinsky, John Adams
  • Recording everyone needs to hear: Caroline Shaw: Orange (Attacca Quartet, 2019)
  • Musical guilty pleasure: Handel’s Water Music
  • Favorite book on music: The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross
  • Best concert heard: Mahler 6 with the Vienna Philharmonic & Semyon Bychkov
  • Most mundane classical music celebrity sighting: Esa-Pekka Salonen at an Ojai coffee shop
Email me at:


Follow me on:

Soli Deo Gloria