Meet Andrew Brady: The SPCO’s new Principal Bassoon
We are pleased to introduce you to Andrew Brady — cat lover, proud parent to 45 plants, word game enthusiast, and now Principal Bassoon of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra!
“There are many things that drew me to join the SPCO, but chief among them is the amount of impact each individual orchestra member has in the music making,” Andrew said. “It’s thrilling to be part of a group where voicing personal musical ideas is not only welcome but highly encouraged. It heightens the sense of collaboration and overall investment in the process.”
SPCO Principal Flute Julia Bogorad-Kogan is among those excited to welcome Andrew. “We’re thrilled to welcome Andrew Brady as our new principal bassoonist. He brings to us many attributes that we value: great soloistic capabilities, a chamber music sensibility, and an experienced voice in orchestral playing,” she said.
Raised in Tennessee in a musically inclined family and with Broadway performers for aunts, music is a core part of his being. “It’s just always been a part of my surroundings,” he said.
Andrew began his music journey wanting to be like his saxophonist sister and started on the same instrument in the sixth grade — only to realize that his dream was to be in the orchestra world instead.
“Honestly, the first thing that drew me to the bassoon was how weird and complicated it looked. It was unlike any other instrument I’d ever seen. I had no idea how it sounded, but I saw those weird, beautiful keys and just knew that’s what I wanted to play.”
So, he shifted direction but didn’t sway too far in the wind family. “Honestly, the first thing that drew me to the bassoon was how weird and complicated it looked. It was unlike any other instrument I’d ever seen. I had no idea how it sounded, but I saw those weird, beautiful keys and just knew that’s what I wanted to play,” Andrew said. “Thank goodness I ended up loving the sound too … Adding my extreme nerdiness and interest in finding out all the things I don’t already know, it made for a great mix to propel me forward in my career.”
And so began an extraordinary 18-year and counting career. Andrew has many to thank for cheering and applauding him on through it all. “I was very fortunate to have tons of support from numerous people who heard and saw something in me through my playing and were gracious enough to help cultivate and nurture it.” He added, “Don’t fool yourself into thinking talent or inclination alone can carry you. You have to do the work … always stay curious, be patient, listen to as much good music as you can (not just classical/orchestral), and practice slowly.”
Andrew has gone on to become a sought-after bassoonist, performing and teaching in South Africa, Korea, China, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and many destinations throughout the United States. Career highlights thus far include performing in CNN’s “Juneteenth: A Global Celebration for Freedom” concert at the Hollywood Bowl with the Re-Collective Orchestra and performing with Earth, Wind & Fire and Chaka Khan with an all-black orchestra, which he described as “Something I will never forget!”
“I see the orchestra world heading in a direction where all of our stories are seen and heard in this space. We all love to see ourselves reflected in the art and entertainment we partake in, and learning about other cultures, other struggles, other ideas of how to live richly benefits us all.”
Such experiences have provided countless people everywhere with added excitement for the future of the orchestra world. “The reins to all … aspects of music composition and music making have been held by a select few; namely, white men … I see the orchestra world heading in a direction where all of our stories are seen and heard in this space,” Andrew said. “We all love to see ourselves reflected in the art and entertainment we partake in, and learning about other cultures, other struggles, other ideas of how to live richly benefits us all. The change is coming slowly, but I have faith it will reach a place where everyone can feel they have room at the table and the right to influence how the conversation goes.”
Additionally, amid worldwide turmoil and crises, “it’s hugely important that there are moments that help people connect to themselves and each other and remember there is still beauty in the world,” he continued. “Music is an amazing way of doing just that and not just with beauty, but passion, love, anger, jealousy, rage, contentment, spirituality… You name it. Music can evoke it.”
Andrew looks forward to connecting with and sharing his artistry with SPCO audiences this week as soloist in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante for Winds, as well as reconnecting later this season with his friend and SPCO Artistic Partner Abel Selaocoe.
“The members of the orchestra have been very warm and welcoming so far, and I look forward to getting to know them better,” Andrew said. “I’m not very familiar with the Upper Midwest, but what I’ve seen so far has been beautiful. Having lived almost all of my life in the South, I am actively taking any and all suggestions regarding winter gear and tips to help acclimate. I’m excited to make Minnesota my home and explore all the great things the area has to offer, all while making music of the highest caliber.”