Kevin McCutcheon, born 1955 in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, conducted for the first time - at 14, the Johnstown Youth Symphony - an original piece he wrote for symphony orchestra. Considered a child prodigy, he attended Philadelphia Musical Academy, winning a scholarship to Manhattan`s School of Music.
During his attendance at the Philadelphia Academy, Kevin McCutcheon was appointed Assistant Conductor (1974-1980) of the Philadelphia Opera Company, when he was 19 years old. From 1976 to 1980, concurrent with his Academy studies, he also enjoyed the post of Musical Director at the Opera Dept. of the Academy.
Instead of heading North to New York City to take up his scholarship, he flew East to Berlin for an audition with Deutsche Oper Berlin`s legendary genie, Dr. Götz Friedrich. Kevin McCutcheon`s fingers flew the keyboard and Dr. Friedrich hired him on the spot. ‚Maestro` McCutcheon has been an integral part of Berlin`s international opera & music scene ever since.
At the Deutsche Oper Berlin, his work as solo pianist brought him acclaim, but it was his ability to function as an accompanist that endeared him to Friedrich. Kevin McCutcheon considers himself fortunate to work from time with some of the world`s leading operatic voices. For all the stellar names and voices (Varady, Pavarotti, Caballe, Fischer-Dieskau, Domingo), one always stands out for him: Robert McFerrin (the father of popular singer Bobby McFerrin), whom he first accompanied at a Berliner Jazz Fest concert in 1982.
The opera „Cosi Fan Tutte, „ in 1986, in front of a packed house in the Deutsche Oper Berlin, was McCutcheon`s public baptism conducting opera on the world stage. Among the operas he now conducts, his favorites are „Dialogues of the Carmelites,“ „La Bohème,“ „Hänsel & Gretel“ & „Zar & Zimmerman. He began conducting ballets a year earlier at the Deutsche Oper (1985), and his ‚hit-list` of ballets include „La Belle Vie,“ „Le Parc,“ „Rosalinde,“ „Cinderella,“ „Sleeping Beauty,“ and Stravinsky-Rachmaninoff`s „Scholz.“ Once a year he flies to New York City to listen to, and choose, the vocal hopefuls ( finalists in an annual U.S. competition) for the Deutsche Oper Berlin`s one-year studium program.
In 1985, in addition to his nascent conducting chores at the Deutsche Opera Berlin, he took the conducting helm of the now 90-year-old tradition-filled 100-person Berliner Ärzte Orchestra.
A full symphony orchestra, he became their musical director, at the same time appearing in concert with them 3 or 4 times a year. McCutcheon also works with a third orchestra, the world-reknown Rundfunk Sinfonie Orchester. As conductor, he has taken the Rundfunk Sinfonie Orchester through Stravinsky, Kurt Weill, Kagel & Prokofiev; as pianist he recently recorded with the Rundfunk the ‚definitive` music recording of the music for the classic German film „Metropolis.„ As pianist, since 1980, McCutcheon has also performed with the Deutsches Symphony Orchestra, Nagano conducting.
A recent recording, as yet unreleased, is the ‚Haydn Concerto Violin & Harpsichord` performed with Berliner Kammer Orchestra. Katrin Scholz is the solo violinist and McCutcheon contents himself with harpsichord.
Guest appearances include the Salzburg Festival and the Savonlinna Festival (conducting Mozart operas), plus orchestra travels to Japan, Korea and China. His love of the organ has seen him tracking down Johann Sebastian Bach-era pieces in Eastern Europe, extracting their exquisite sounds.
Kevin McCutcheon holds the chair of Professor of Conducting at Berlin`s famous arts university, Universität der Künste (University of Arts).
His recent experiments in Blues & Classics have borne fruit, with a fourth orchestra - The Blackriders Orchestra - added to his list of ‚musics-to-do.` A typical day for McCutcheon in Berlin would be to perform his administrative duties at the Deutsche Oper Berlin as Studienleiter, rehearse on the stage at midday, record with the Rundfunk Sinfonie Orchester in the afternoon, grab a bite to eat at the Paris Bar, field some phone calls on his mobile, and then go back to the Deutsche Oper Berlin to perform onstage in the night. Berlin`s ‚l`enfant terrible` is a work-alcoholic.
Extract from THE SUNDAY MALIBU NEWSPAPER; MALIBU, CA