Malcolm Scott Brashear, a revered figure in the world of music, passed away on December 29, 2023. His illustrious career spanned continents and genres, touching the lives of many through his exceptional talents in conducting, performance, and teaching.
A Conductor Par Excellence
Dr. Brashear's contributions as a conductor were both varied and significant. He was renowned for his work on 'The Guide', an Adirondack musical by Eric Granger, which premiered at Lake Placid Center for the Arts in New York. His versatility was evident as he guest-conducted the full dance production of Kurt Weil's 'Seven Deadly Sins', performed by the University of South Carolina Dance Department.
One of his notable achievements was conducting and arranging Napoleonic-era military band music featuring period instruments, in collaboration with the State Museum of South Carolina and the Fanfare Francaise wind ensemble. His interpretation of Stephen Sondheim’s 'A Little Night Music' with the University of South Carolina Orchestra and Opera was a testament to his mastery in conducting.
A Repertoire Reflecting Musical Depth
Dr. Brashear's repertoire was as extensive as it was impressive, encompassing works like Mendelsohn’s Italian Symphony, Tchaikovsky 4th Symphony, Dvorak’s Serenade for Strings, and Wagner’s Siegfried Idylle, among others. His selections showcased his profound understanding and appreciation of classical music.
A Globetrotting Performance Career
His performance career was nothing short of remarkable, ranging from Radio City Music Hall to Caracas, Venezuela, and Hong Kong. As a percussionist, he collaborated with Aldemaro Romero with the Filarmonica de Caracas and was the Principal Timpanist in La Orquesta Sinfónica Municipal. His performance with Astor Piazzolla highlighted his ability to blend traditional and modern music styles.
In Hong Kong, Dr. Brashear served as the Principal Timpanist for the Hong Kong Philharmonic under David Atherton, working with luminaries like Jessye Norman, Luciano Pavarotti, and Isaac Stern. He also created orchestral arrangements for the Hong Kong Symphony’s Pops Concerts, demonstrating his versatility and creative flair.
An Educator and Radio Host
As a piano teacher at Cunningham Music School, Dr. Brashear imparted his vast knowledge to aspiring musicians, nurturing the next generation of talent. His role as a Classical Music Radio Host on WPRB 103.3 FM in Princeton, NJ, allowed him to share his passion for music with a broader audience.
Collaborations and Education
Dr. Brashear's collaborative projects, like 'American Landscape' with Rebecca Kelly Ballet, highlighted his commitment to integrating music with other art forms. His training at Eastman School of Music, University of Michigan, and University of South Carolina, under esteemed mentors like Maurice Kaplow and Charles Bruch, laid the foundation for his extraordinary career.
Malcolm Brashear’s legacy is not just in the notes he conducted or played but in the hearts he touched through his music. His passing leaves a void in the world of classical music, but his contributions will continue to inspire and resonate for generations to come.
Here are some of Malcolm's performances of music by Astor Piazolla, recorded a few weeks before his passing.