Bramwell Tovey
(c) Sarasota Orchestra

British conductor Bramwell Tovey has passed away, following a battle with a rare form of sarcoma cancer. He died on Tuesday night, just one day after celebrating his 69th birthday.

He was Music Director of the Sarasota Orchestra since 2021. In 2017 Tovey took up the post of Director of Orchestral Activities at the Boston University School of Music. In September 2018, he became artistic advisor to the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra. In December 2021, the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra announced a change in Tovey’s title to Principal Conductor and Artistic Director, and in parallel an extension of his contract through August 2026. In 2021 he was appointed as Principal Guest Conductor with Orchestre Symphonique de Québec.

Tovey’s career began as a student at the Royal Academy of Music and the University of London and included stops at the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic and an array of other high profile orchestras.

Tovey was Music Director of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (VSO) from 2000-2018. Tovey took the title of VSO Music Director Emeritus with the 2018–2019 season.

Tovey was Music Director of the Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra from 2002 to 2006 during which time he led it on tours to Europe, the Far East and to the eastern United States; in 2005 he conducted them in the world premiere of Penderecki’s 8th Symphony. In November 2017, the BBC Concert Orchestra announced the appointment of Tovey as its next principal conductor, effective January 2018, with an initial contract of 5 years.

Tovey conducted the Summertime Classics series of concerts with the New York Philharmonic since the inception of the series in the summer of 2004 through the conclusion of the series in 2014. In March 2008, Tovey was named Principal Guest Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Hollywood Bowl summer concerts.

Tovey was also known as a composer. His compositions include a Cello Concerto, and a work for a large choir and brass band, ‘Requiem for a Charred Skull’, which in 2003 was awarded a Juno for Classical Composition of the Year. Tovey also composed the film score, recorded by the VSO, for Richard Bell’s film Eighteen. In 2007, Calgary Opera commissioned a new opera from Tovey, titled The Inventor and premiered by Calgary Opera in January 2011.

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