World-renowned pianist Cathal Breslin to join ASU School of Music piano faculty

May 13, 2019

World-renowned pianist Cathal Breslin will join the Arizona State University School of Music in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts as assistant professor of piano in August 2019.

“I am excited about the collaborative atmosphere of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, and I am extremely fascinated by the role that the School of Music takes within an atmosphere that is connecting, fusing and merging different fields together,” Breslin said. “The School of Music has one of the most prestigious piano studies program in the nation, and I am delighted to be a part of its future.”  Cathal Breslin Cathal Breslin Download Full Image

Praised worldwide by numerous critics as one of the most exciting pianists of his generation, Breslin’s music has received critical acclaim. The Cleveland Plain Dealer described his playing as having “superb intensity and passion.” The Belfast Telegraph called him “energized and energizing” and The Independent, London, called his music “noble poetry.”

“We are excited to have attracted Dr. Breslin to our faculty,” said Heather Landes, director of the ASU School of Music. “His experience as a solo and chamber artist, his interest and advocacy for new music and his passion for teaching align well with the outstanding piano program in the ASU School of Music.”

As a pianist, Breslin said he has always had a naturally analytical and problem-solving approach to his own playing so the transition to teacher was a natural process for him.

“During my developing years as a musician, I have built a large vocabulary of how to express ideas clearly, how to fix technical problems and how to elevate artistry — channeling this approach to students who have different perspectives,” Breslin said. “My father was a fantastic history teacher and I absorbed a lot about how to communicate and engage with students. My goal as a teacher is to communicate all information in a way that engages my students.”  

Breslin’s education and training has involved many different angles, cultures and schools of teaching, from London and Manchester in the United Kingdom to Spain to Michigan. His musicianship represents a wide range of approaches and influences of the Irish, British, Russian, French and American schools, he said, and his performing experiences in many amazing cities and countries with different cultures has shaped his outlook on life.

In addition to being a pianist and professor, Breslin is artistic director and festival director of the Walled City Music Festival, one of the most innovative and important arts organizations in Northern Ireland. It is dedicated to creating a brighter future for young musicians in Northern Ireland. Started 10 years ago with his wife, Sabrina Hu, the organization directs major festivals and concert events.

Breslin earned his Doctor of Musical Arts at the University of Michigan, his Master of Music at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England, and his Bachelor of Music at the Royal College of Music in London.

“As part of the piano faculty at ASU, I want to make sure that my students are able to become an extension of my network, to be involved in my existing projects and to initiate their own innovative and creative projects,” Breslin said. “I hope to bring a large group of ASU students and faculty each summer to the WCM International Piano Festival and Competition in Northern Ireland.”

Born in Derry, Northern Ireland, his international career as a concerto performer, solo recitalist and chamber musician has taken him to famous concert halls throughout Europe, the United States and Asia. He has performed with prestigious conductors and internationally renowned orchestras and quartets.

Breslin’s previous faculty positions include the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music at the University of Memphis, Bucknell University, Bloomsburg University, the National University of Ireland in Maynooth and Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He has taught master classes and lectured at universities and conservatories in the U.S., Canada, China, Korea, Hong Kong, Portugal, Bulgaria, Spain, the U.K. and Ireland.

Lynne MacDonald

communications specialist, School of Music


ASU Polytechnic campus political science major found his passion a few miles from home

May 13, 2019

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2019 commencement.

While some high school students want to get far away from home to find themselves and have a certain college experience, ASU graduate Kyle Hohmann never had that mindset. He has known what he has wanted to do since early on in high school. ASU Polytechnic campus political science graduate Kyle Hohmann processes out of Wells Fargo Arena after CISA Convocation ASU Polytechnic campus political science graduate Kyle Hohmann exits Wells Fargo Arena after participating in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts convocation on May 10, 2019. Photo by Kelley Karnes/ASU Now Download Full Image

“I have been interested in politics and government since a young age,” Hohmann recalled. “I remember tracking polls and following coverage of the 2012 election as a freshman in high school and have followed every election since. What really got me interested in policy, however, was my involvement in speech and debate in high school. I participated in my first debate tournament when I was a sophomore, and while my views have evolved a lot since then, my interest in public policy has remained.”

Hohmann, who grew up in Gilbert, Arizona, knew that he didn’t need to leave home in order to pursue his dreams, and when ASU added the political science major at the Polytechnic campus the fall semester of his freshman year, that was the perfect fit for his situation.

Now, even with graduation in the rearview mirror, Hohmann still has no desire to leave his home state.

“I don’t know where I’ll end up, but hopefully I’ll end up with a job that allows me to stay in Arizona,” said Hohmann, who served a year’s term as senator in ASU Undergraduate Student Government at the Polytechnic campus. “I think local government is an area I’ll want to continue to focus on with whatever career I end up with.”

Hohmann recently shared with ASU Now more about some of his experiences while at the university and his plans for the future.

Question: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective?

Answer: My internship at the (Arizona) Capitol taught me a lot about how local governments can solve problems and that a lot of positive change for communities comes through this process, rather than relying on the federal government to make changes.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: My Sociology 101 class with Professor Joshua Kane taught me a lot about the importance of counterintuitive solutions to complex problems and not getting caught up with the assumption that a proposed solution is inherently impractical without actually examining it further. It’s a concept I’ve definitely thought a lot about and make a note of in a lot of conversations I have that deal with complex issues we face.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Some of the most interesting classes you will take with the best lessons can just as easily be electives as classes related to your major. Take electives that sound interesting to you!

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: I made a lot of good memories in the Polytechnic USG (Undergraduate Student Government) office. When I had downtime between classes, that’s the spot where I would usually end up.

Q: Did you do an internship related to your major?

A: Two. My first internship was with Gov. (Doug) Ducey’s reelection campaign, and in my last semester I was a legislative intern for the governor’s office. It was an interesting jump from the world of campaigning to the world of governing, especially since I ended up working with some of my bosses from the campaign in the governor’s office.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: Youth homelessness.

Written by Kynan Marlin, student marketing assistant, College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, and sports journalism major, ASU Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication