Bio

A few more random things about me…

(Some of my) favorite composers: John Adams, Stravinsky, Bach, Caroline Shaw, Ravel, Arvo Pärt, Britten, Jennifer Higdon

Five desert island pieces: Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, Bach’s Cantata BWV 4 (“Christ lag in Todes Banden”), Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G, Adams’s Naive and Sentimental Music, Handel’s Water Music (OK, six: Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances.)

Favorite orchestra: tie between the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Berlin Philharmonic

Most impactful concert: Mahler 6 with Semyon Bychkov and the Vienna Philharmonic

Bucket-list concert item: David Del Tredici’s Final Alice

Music writer I admire: Alex Ross

Instrument I would have chosen instead of the horn: cello or bassoon

Musical that I (shamelessly) know all the words to: Jesus Christ Superstar


Kevin McBrien is a Southern California-based musicologist, writer, editor, and speaker who has a passion for connecting others with classical music.

Whether through program notes, pre-concert talks, or blog posts, Kevin seeks to illuminate historical context, musical structure, and the stories behind the music in ways that are both interesting and accessible to listeners.

Kevin is a PhD candidate in musicology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he received his Master’s degree in spring 2019. His current research interests include émigré composers in 1930s & 40s Los Angeles, public musicology, concert programming, and American musical theater. Alongside his academic studies, Kevin has worked as both TA and instructor for the University’s 450-student Music Appreciation course.

In 2015, Kevin graduated from California State University, Long Beach with a Bachelor’s degree in music history & literature. His senior thesis, completed under the supervision of Drs. Kristine Forney and Roger Hickman, examined Richard Addinsell’s score for Goodbye, Mr. Chips and related archival materials housed in the University’s MGM Collection. Kevin spent summer 2015 at the Music Division of the Library of Congress, organizing and archiving twentieth-century publicity photographs as part of the Junior Fellows Summer Intern Program.

For two summers (2018, 2019), Kevin worked as the Assistant Program Book Editor at the Aspen Music Festival and School. In this position, he edited program notes, artist bios, and other printed materials for dozens of events during the Festival’s eight-week season.

Kevin is an avid program note annotator, and his writings have appeared at the Aspen Music Festival and School, Salida Aspen Concerts, Tuesday Musical Association, Music Academy of the West, and Trinity United Presbyterian Church. He also contributed liner notes for releases by Chavdar Parashkevov, Natasha Kislenko (Beethoven, Brahms, Mahler: Works for Violin and Piano, 2018), and Sung Chang (forthcoming).

As a public speaker, Kevin has presented pre-concert talks for the Aspen Music Festival and School, South Coast Symphony, and UC Santa Barbara. Additionally, he has curated a classical music blog since 2017.

In performance, Kevin is a horn player, chorister, and occasional arm-waver (i.e., conductor), and has appeared at venues throughout Southern California. Although he loves attending concerts and frequently “nerding out” about classical music, he also enjoys movies, cats, The Office, In N’ Out, long walks, and quality time with family and friends.

Soli Deo Gloria


© 2017-20, Kevin McBrien. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kevin McBrien with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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