Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra conductor dies

Bramwell Tovey, Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra, died peacefully July 12 at his home in Barrington, Rhode Island, a day after celebrating his 69th birthday surrounded by loved ones. Bramwell was incredibly proud and devoted to his family, and is survived by his children Ben, Jessica and Emmeline, his partner Verena De Neovel, his sisters, grandchildren, nieces and nephew.

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 led 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 of this year, analyzes confirmed an incident 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. Youngest student and guest artist most 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 everywhere. Bramwell was incredibly grateful to the conductors who spoke on his behalf in Rhode Island and elsewhere, for the support he received from the RI Philharmonic community, and to all those who sent him messages of encouragement. Along with his family and colleagues around the world , 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 gigs in the 2022/23 season and will also take on some offstage 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 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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About Roy B. Westling

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