Kirk Brundage is part of a new generation of percussionists that has western training and then immersed themselves in another culture.
Kirk got his professional start in his native up-state New York playing in theater productions, chamber ensembles and as a sideman for various entertainers. For over 15 years he played as an extra with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra under conductors such as Lukas Foss, Semyon Bychkov, Pierre Boulez and Doc Severinson. With an MFA in percussion from CalArts, Kirk went on to win many awards, including a Fulbright Scholarship to Denmark, top prize in the 1991 International Music Competition of the German Radio (Munich), scholarships to the Internationale Ferien Kurse fur Neue Musik in Darmstadt Germany, a Rockefeller grant to Mexico, and a Rotary Exchange grant to Japan. Kirk received audience and critical acclaim for his solo recitals given in Europe and the United States. With the Maelstrom Percussion Ensemble he recorded a series of 3 CDs for the Swiss Label hatART, featuring the percussion music of John Cage, Lou Harrison and James Tenney. Maelstrom also recorded its own music and performed it at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC.
Kirk then changed artistic direction, focusing instead on percussion of the African Diaspora. He studied with master drummer Bernard Woma from the National Dance Company of Ghana and traveled to Cuba to study with Los Munequitos de Matanzas. However Kirk’s focus has been Afro-Brazilian percussion from mystical Salvador da Bahia, Brazil. His studies of the sacred rhythms of Candomble, roots of Samba and modern Carnaval styles culminated in the rare privilege of a non-Brazilian playing in Brazilian Carnaval with the world-renowned Bloco Afro Olodum. Kirk has written an instructional book based on his experiences in Brazil, entitled: “Afro-Brazilian Percussion Guide: Instruments and rhythms from Salvador da Bahia, Brazil.”
LA-based, Kirk has appeared with various groups, at the Kodak Theater, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Hollywood Bowl, Ford Theater, LA Music Awards and American Idol Underground. He performed with Stewart Copeland, drummer for the rock band The Police, on an evening featuring Copeland’s film and chamber music. Kirk currently directs the Music of Brazil Ensemble in the UCLA Department of Ethnomusicology; and is an artist endorser for REMO.