Bramwell Tovey has died aged 69


The British conductor, who turned a well-regarded career conducting theater orchestras into symphonic leadership, first in Canada and finally in Rhode Island, died of cancer on July 12e at his home in Barrington. He celebrated his 69th birthdaye birthday with his family and died the following day.

The Spy noted five years ago Tovey’s excellent leadership of the Boston University Orchestra, including a memorable performance by The Rite of Spring HERE. What a loss for BU that he didn’t stay longer. Tovey told us about his nomination HERE in an almost 6,000-word interview that ended with this reflection on his life as a conductor, composer and teacher.

I get up really early, try not to complain and try to stay focused on what I’m supposed to accomplish. But frankly, being a musician is a wonderful calling. I still think it’s much better than having a real job…

We remember with great pleasure several of his concerts with the BSO, in particular an extremely moving Brahms Requiem HERE, an irresistible Candid HERE, and an important Porgy and Bess at Tanglewood HERE.

The official Rhode Island Philharmonic obituary (RIP indeed) continues:

(photo Paul Prefontaine)

“Bramwell Tovey was a dear friend and colleague, and a person of uncommon ability, warmth, humor, sincerity and kindness,” wrote the Rhode Island executive director. Philharmonic, David Beauchesne. “The youngest student and most revered guest artist received the same level of care and attention. His death is a profound loss to our organization and our community, as well as to musicians and audiences everywhere.

Tovey certainly led an epic life. Born in East London, where his musical training began in Salvation Army bands, his talent took him from tuba, to piano, to conducting, and eventually to Leonard’s attention. Bernstein, who described him as his “hero”. Tovey went on to serve as Music Director at the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra in Canada, where he founded a groundbreaking new music festival, and at the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, where he expanded audiences, won a Grammy, led international tours and helped found the VSO School of Music. , whose building now bears his name. Along the way, he won a Juno Award for his work as a composer and became founding host and conductor of the New York Philharmonic’s Summertime Classics Festival as well as principal guest conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl. .

Tovey first conducted the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra in October 2016. His chemistry with the orchestra, audience, organization and community was immediate. In 2018, he succeeded Larry Rachleff, who conducted the RI Philharmonic Orchestra for more than two decades. On accepting his new position, Tovey said:

“Three things caught my eye in Rhode Island. First and foremost, the dedication and commitment of the musicians led by concertmaster Charles Dimmick. Second, the wonderful Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School with its dedicated teachers and inspiring dynamic and third, the excellent Board of Directors under the leadership of President Robert Naparstek and the administration under the leadership of Executive Director David Beauchesne, one of America’s most creative orchestra directors. looking forward to this new relationship in my career as I firmly believe, as does the Philharmonic Orchestra, that we only thrive if we serve the communities in which we make music.

Tovey quickly put his artistic stamp on the organization, resulting in the beginnings of RIPO for artists like Olga Kern, Yefim Bronfman, James Ehnes, Pinchas Zukerman, Amanda Forsythe, and Emanuel Axe. It has also demonstrated a strong commitment to diversity and living composers, programming premieres of works by Jessie Montgomery, Gabriela Lena Frank, Florence Price, Eric Nathan, Quinn Mason and Carlos Simon, among others. Committed to strengthening collaboration between the orchestra and the school, he presented the RI Phil Youth Orchestra alongside RIPO for the first time in a classic TACO concert on Saturday evening and invited students from Victoria’s Dream Project from music school to perform this year. Gala.

Diagnosed with a rare form of sarcoma in May 2019, Tovey underwent surgery at Dana Farber in Boston in June 2021 that briefly left him cancer-free. In January this year, scans confirmed a recurrence from which he ultimately could not recover. “We are all heartbroken,” said David Beauchesne, General Manager. “Bramwell Tovey was a dear friend and colleague, and a person of uncommon ability, warmth, humour, sincerity and kindness. revered received the same level of care and attention. His death is a profound loss to our organization and our community, as well as to musicians and audiences around the world. Bramwell was incredibly grateful to the conductors who stepped forward on his behalf in Rhode Island and elsewhere, for the support he has received from the RI Philharmonic community, and to all who have sent him messages of encouragement. Along with his family and colleagues around the world, we we will support each other during this difficult time and continue his legacy of art, education, inclusion and humanity.

Prior to Tovey’s passing, and with his full support and that of the organization’s Board of Directors, Executive and Orchestra Committee, Tania Miller agreed to step in as Acting Principal Conductor of Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra. Miller will lead three concerts during the 2022/23 season and will also take on some off-stage duties. Other concerts will be conducted by Kensho Watanabe and Sascha Goetzel. Leonard Slatkin will join the orchestra and Renee Fleming for the 2023 Annual Gala Concert on June 3, 2023. The Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra’s 2022-23 season will be dedicated to the memory of Bramwell Tovey and celebrate his joy of music and his passion for the music. education. A memorial fund will be established in Bramwell Tovey’s name to support the Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School and its impact on future generations of young musicians in Bramwell’s adopted state. Details about the fund and how to express your condolences will follow.

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