Artist Spotlight: Kevin Brohman

Join the TBSO March 3rd for “Bridging the Distance” ft. TBSO Principal Timpani, Kevin Brohman!

We have an exciting concert lined up on March 3rd: Kurt Weill’s Symphony No.1 , Michael Oesterle’s Kaluza Klein, Erkki-Sven Tüür’s Action-Passion-Illusion and Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony. Kevin will be the featured soloist on Oesterle’s piece for vibraphone and orchestra, tickets available HERE!

Hailing from Beamsville, Ontario, Kevin Brohman joined the TBSO as Principal Timpanist in the Fall of 2019. He holds a Bachelor of Music in Percussion Performance from Wilfrid Laurier University and has studied in the Artist Diploma Program of the Glenn Gould School at the Royal Conservatory of Music. Kevin is an alumnus of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, the National Academy Orchestra, and the Colorado College Summer Music Festival. He was previously Principal Timpanist of the Stratford Symphony Orchestra and has performed with the Niagara Symphony and Kingston Symphony. As a drum set player he performs regularly as a member of the Martin Blanchet Jazz Quintet. Kevin teaches percussion at Lakehead University and has also taught at the Niagara Symphony’s Summer Music Camp. In his spare time he is an avid home cook and enjoys going for walks and hikes with his wife Jess and their dog Winston.

Check out our interview with Kevin below, and don’t forget to pick up your tickets for the concert on March 3rd HERE!

Q: What is your favourite piece of music?

A: If I had to pick one, I would say Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. I can’t think of any other work that intersperses beautiful melodies into complete and utter chaos in such a perfect way. I’ve had the chance to perform it a few times and I’ve loved it more every time.

Q: What is your favourite musical memory?

A: I feel like there’s too many to choose from, but a really cool one was getting to tour across Canada in the first year I was a member of the National Youth Orchestra in 2017. We got to play in 13 cities from coast to coast, including Whitehorse in the Yukon which was somewhere I always thought would be cool to visit, but never expected I would be going there to perform with an orchestra!

Funnily enough, one of the pieces we performed that summer was Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony, which I’m very excited to perform for the first time since then on this program!

Q: Does music play a part in your everyday life?

A: It does but not as much as it did before, which I suppose is a trade off of making a career out of your favourite hobby. I often listen a lot to what we are preparing for our performances, and I always have music playing in my head (especially if we have a catchy Pops or Northern Lights coming up), so in my spare time I more often reach for a podcast or cooking tutorial to pass the time.

I do always have CBC music on when I’m driving and tend to keep up with new releases from my favourite bands and artists, but I’m not searching for new music to listen to recreationally as much as when I was younger. I love to get recommendations from my dad Mark and my brother Matt (who just released his first single with his band Honeypie, way to go bro!).

Q: What do you like most about performing?

A: I think my favourite part is that I always feel like I’m learning something new. Getting to perform in so many different genres like we do with TBSO, I’m always figuring out a new way to listen, a new way to react to what my colleagues do in the orchestra…I’m always amazed at how engaged you need to be to get through a piece, and every day at work I feel like I’m getting better at one thing or another. That spark never seems to fade the more and more I perform.

I also love the way that music brings people together. I love to think of how people from all walks of life can come together to experience the same piece, and each one of those people might all have different feelings or experiences of the music. It’s such a cool phenomenon, and I feel very lucky to be able to play a small roll in it (pun intended).

Q: How did you decide to become a professional musician?

A: You know, I don’t think I can pin point the exact moment. From the time I was in high school I knew that music was something I always wanted to do, professionally or otherwise. At that time most of my focus musically was as a guitar player, but I always really wanted to play drums and was able to start learning that and percussion as part of my high school band program.

I was interested in studying recording engineering, but it was the encouragement of my high school music teacher at Blessed Trinity in Grimsby, Angela Macaroni, that led me to pursue percussion at university, and that’s what led me to where I am today. Thanks Ms. Mac!

Q: What is your favourite part about Thunder Bay?

A: Aside from the balmy winter temperatures, (…I’m joking! It’s -35 celsius with the wind chill right now) it’s a tie between the landscape and the food.

Since moving here, my wife Jess and I have had a lot of fun exploring all the trails and hikes that the region has to offer. In the summer of 2022 the two of us along with her sister Kristyn, our friend Katie and our fearless 12 pound dog Winston leading the way, hiked Sleeping Giant provincial park over 2 days…about 40km hiked after all was said and done! That was like nothing we’ve ever experienced before.

I’ve also grown to love the food scene in the city. As an avid home cook, I find I have no shortage of great options to choose from when I want the night off from the kitchen. A Rebel Salad, a Nomad Sandwich, a Both Hands Pizza or a night at the Sovereign Room are just a few that come to mind at the moment.

Q: What advice would you give to young aspiring musicians?

A: I would say to find your specialty and focus as much of your time as you can on it. There’s so many instruments, genres and topics to specialize in, so find what you enjoy the most and try to learn as much as possible from different teachers and colleagues who share the same interests. I learned a lot about performing by taking as many chances as I could to play both in and out of school, so I encourage anyone thinking about becoming a musician to do the same with the specialty they choose.

Q: How would you describe Oesterle’s Piece?

A: It’s a wonderful piece that I’ve known for a long time. It features the strings and vibraphone spending most of the time trying to find a way to work together, finally reaching somewhat of a compromise by the end. This fits with the piece’s namesake, where the theory developed by the mathematicians Theodor Kaluza and Oskar Klein of a fifth dimension, while widely considered to not fit in with other more proven theories, included aspects that went on to form the basis of String Theory…at least that’s as far as my musician brain understands it! You’ll need to consult a physicist for a more concise explanation on it.

I’ve been a fan of Michael Oesterle’s music for a long time. Not only have I performed some of his chamber music, but I was lucky enough as a student to see the percussion virtuoso Evelyn Glennie perform this piece and other works with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra at Wilfred Laurier University, the night before I got to play for her in a masterclass…Is it too late to change my answer to question 2?!

This is a really exciting Canadian piece, and I’m looking forward to bringing it and the rest of the program to you with my wonderful TBSO colleagues.

Make sure to get your tickets for the concert here!

Funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation.