Brian O. Kepher
Conductor in Residence
Brian O. Kepher (born 1994) is a conductor living and studying in Nairobi, Kenya. His work facilitates the preservation and appreciation of African music and he is currently focussing on orchestrating native African folk tunes. His orchestration drawn from Christopher Walters’ Variations on Malaika, a popular song recorded in 1959 by Fadhili Williams, was performed in 2018 by the Nairobi Orchestra. He is now working on his first symphonic work, which he aims to complete during his residency in Spoleto. Brian also works with El Sistema Kenya, amongst other community programmes, using music as a tool for social change: His involvement with different charities and leadership projects saw him recommended as an Associate Fellow of the Royal Commonwealth Society.
In 2016 he was invited as a guest conductor at the 5th International Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition (Bamberg, Germany) where he took masterclasses with Jonathan Nott. Brian later participated in a residency with Jorge Viladoms at the Lausanne Conservatory in Switzerland and attended the Verbier Festival where he had a masterclass with Iván Fischer. In 2017, he attended the All African Universities Leadership Exchange Programme hosted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill USA, where he met and rehearsed the school’s Symphony Orchestra under the guidance of Prof. Kalam Tonu. In 2018 saw him win a scholarship to attend an academic semester in conducting and orchestration at the Haute école de musique Genève-Neuchâtel (Geneva University of Music) as a guest student under Prof. Laurent Gay.
Brian was first introduced to music by the church, listening and singing the Gregorian Chants as he grew up. He enrolled at Kenyatta University where he studied music and later grew interested in orchestral conducting, inspired by Gustavo Dudamel and Sir Simon Rattle. In 2015 he conducted a performance which was attended by both the President of the Republic of Kenya and Pope Francis, during his Papal State visit to Africa.
His interest in performance was inspired by hearing the drums of the Kenya Defence Forces when they played the National Anthem of Kenya in 2010. When Brian joined the Ghetto Classics community programme in Korogocho around that time, he became a timpanist and percussionist and has since performed with the Nairobi Orchestra, National Youth Orchestra of Kenya, the Kenya Conservatoire Symphony Orchestra, the SCOKENDIA Ensemble (UK), the Dar Choral Society and Orchestra (Tanzania), Seoul International Community Orchestra (South Korea), and the World Civic Orchestra (USA).