Grammy-winning bandleader Bramwell Tovey dies at 69


Bramwell Tovey, the famous British conductor and composer beloved for his years of work with Canadian orchestras and opera companies, has died at the age of 69.

The news was announced by the Sarasota Orchestra, of which Tovey had been Music Director since 2021. “An international music leader and global citizen, Maestro Tovey has impacted generations across multiple continents through his musical creation, his direction and teaching,” his statement read. , which specified that the cause of death was cancer, initially diagnosed in 2019.

In addition to his position with the Sarasota Orchestra, Tovey has also served as Artistic Director of the Rhode Island Philharmonic and Principal Guest Conductor of the Orchester symphonique de Québec and the BBC Concert Orchestra.

“The BBC Concert Orchestra family is deeply saddened to lose Bramwell Tovey, our principal conductor for the past four years and a dear friend for many more,” read a statement from its director, Bill Chandler. “He was a conductor whose warmth, sense of humor and artistic direction will be sorely missed.”

In Canada, Tovey was best known for his successful tenure as Music Director of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (VSO) from 2000 to 2018. Their CBC Records album of violin concertos by Samuel Barber, Erich Wolfgang Korngold and William Walton, featuring soloist James Ehnes, won a Grammy Award in 2008 for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance with Orchestra.

With the VSO, Tovey conducted complete cycles of symphonies by Beethoven, Brahms and Mahler. He also directed the VSO School of Music and served as its artistic advisor.

In January 2019, Tovey became Artistic Director of Calgary Opera, where he planned two of the company’s seasons before leaving the post for health reasons. On Twitterthe Calgary Opera described Tovey as “a true pioneer in the arts industry”.

From 1989 to 2000, Tovey was Music Director of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, where a major achievement was the establishment of the WSO’s acclaimed New Music Festival, alongside Glenn Buhr, the orchestra’s first Composer-in-Residence. and his successor, Randolph Peters.

Tovey was also a composer. His Requiem for a Charred Skull won a Juno Award in 2003 for Best Classical Composition. The Calgary Opera has commissioned its opera The inventor, written with playwright John Murrell. He also wrote a trumpet concerto, Paradise Saloon Songsfor the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and John McCandless.

Tovey was a frequent guest conductor with the New York Philharmonic, and from 2004 to 2012 he conducted and hosted its annual Summertime Classics festival at Avery Fisher Hall. On the West Coast, in 2007, Tovey was named Principal Guest Conductor at the Hollywood Bowl, where he conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Summer Classic Subscription Series.

Awards include the 2015 Oskar Morawetz Prize for Excellence in Musical Performance and the Gold Prize from the French Lyric Academy for his recording of Jean Cras’ ​​1922 opera, Polyphemus. In 2013, he was made an Honorary Officer of the Order of Canada.

CBC Music will honor Tovey in a special edition of About Time with Tom Allen on Thursday, July 14 starting at noon (12:30 p.m. NT). Paolo Pietropaolo will honor Tovey’s memory in In Concert on Sunday July 17.

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