Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School Announces Bramwell Tovey as Artistic Advisor Effective Immediately

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Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School Announces
Bramwell Tovey as Artistic Advisor Effective Immediately

Tovey Conducts Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra for the
First Time in His New Role, October 19 & 20

PROVIDENCE, RI – Grammy- and Juno-award winner and internationally acclaimed conductor, composer and pianist Bramwell Tovey joins the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School effective immediately as Artistic Advisor. Described as the model of a modern orchestral maestro, Tovey’s prolific career has earned him distinction on the stage, and in the classroom and community. He creates exceptional concert experiences, commissions and composes music for and of his community, and believes orchestras have a responsibility for providing and encouraging access to music education of the highest quality. Tovey is a true champion of connecting orchestras and the communities they serve.

These are values shared by the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School, which is the largest fully integrated professional orchestra and community music school in the United States. The Rhode Island Philharmonic plays a vital role in the region as an inclusive, artistic body dedicated to engaging and enriching the lives of all who wish to learn, practice and hear music. Last year, Tovey joined the faculty of the Boston University School of Music as Director of Orchestral and Conducting Studies, bringing him to New England and making this uniquely consummate appointment possible.

“I’m delighted to accept the position of Artistic Advisor for the Rhode Island Philharmonic. I’ve greatly enjoyed my concerts with them and look forward to joining the Orchestra as it celebrates 75 years of music-making in 2019, and we commemorate the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth in 2020,” Tovey said. “Three things caught my attention in Rhode Island. First and foremost, the devotion and commitment of the musicians led by concertmaster Charles Dimmick. Secondly, the wonderful Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School with its dedicated teachers and inspirational dynamic and thirdly, the excellent Board under Robert Naparstek, President of the Board of Directors and the administration under Executive Director David Beauchesne, one of the most creative orchestra managers in America.”

Tovey added: “The model created by the R.I. Philharmonic Orchestra and the R.I. Philharmonic Music School is unique in the United States and has proved a template for success in the 21st century. I’m looking forward to this new relationship in my career as I firmly believe, as does the Philharmonic, that we thrive only if we serve the communities in which we make music.”

One of North America’s most prominent conductors, Tovey was appointed Music Director Emeritus of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (VSO) following his 18-year tenure as its Music Director. Under his direction, the VSO toured Asia, Canada and the United States. In 2007, he won the Grammy for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance with Orchestra for a VSO recording of violin concertos by Barber, Korngold and Walton with violinist James Ehnes. In 2003, Tovey won the Juno Award for Best Classical Composition for his choral and brass work Requiem for a Charred Skull. He conceived and championed the VSO’s School of Music, which opened in 2011 with Tovey in the role of Artistic Advisor. The VSO School has grown rapidly, increasing the orchestra’s investment in education and its engagement with the community.

“We are thrilled and excited to welcome an artist of Tovey’s stature with impressive global renown and achievements in orchestral performance and music education. He is a true and multifaceted artist—a brilliant conductor, composer and soloist—with unique experience in the creation of a community music school connected to an orchestra,” said David Beauchesne, Executive Director, Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School. “He is a progressive thinker, and the perfect person to build on Larry Rachleff’s legacy and shepherd our orchestra, school and community to new heights.”

“I feel incredibly fortunate to be welcoming Maestro Tovey to the Rhode Island Philharmonic,” said Charles Dimmick, concertmaster and search committee member. “He brings extraordinary musical depth and experience to our organization and is certain to be an inspirational leader for orchestra and audiences alike. The selection of such an esteemed and profound musician exemplifies the Philharmonic’s continued commitment to excellence in music-making. It is with great pride in our orchestra and the selection process that I welcome him to the podium.”

“Members of the Orchestra, faculty, management, staff and Board are excited about the potential for growth in the quality and impact of the orchestra and our education programs under the artistic leadership of Bramwell Tovey,” said Marie Langlois, search committee chair and immediate past Board president. “We are all delighted that we’ve attracted a transformational leader to join our team.”

Since 2016, Tovey has conducted the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra on two successful occasions and has spent time working with students from the Music School. In November 2017, he led the Orchestra in a program that included Elgar’s “Enigma” Variations, Brahms’s Piano Concerto No.1 and Berlioz’s Le Corsaire Overture.


Acclaim for Bramwell Tovey:

“Tovey caught fire in a wonderful rendition of Elgar’s popular Enigma Variations. The playing had passion, breadth and just seemed to blossom at every turn. The cellos sounded lush and centered, and the way Tovey…pulled the opening bars of the gorgeous ‘Nimrod’ variation out of the mist was hair-raising.” —Providence Journal

“Leonard Bernstein called him a hero, John Adams sang his praises, and the accolades continue to pile up.…A conductor and composer renowned not just for his musical brilliance but also his great rapport with audiences, Tovey is a fierce cultural advocate and finessed cultural ambassador.” —Toronto Globe and Mail

“Tovey commands resplendent playing from the Boston Symphony, having conducted breathtaking performances of Brahms’s German Requiem and Act 1 of Puccini’s Tosca in recent seasons at Symphony Hall and Tanglewood….”—Boston Classical Review

“Tovey then took on a masterwork of musical humor, Richard Strauss’ Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, leading the audience by the hand through the piece at the piano from beginning to end. He is a more mischievous teacher than, say, Leonard Bernstein was but just as illuminating….”—Los Angeles Times

“I loved Tovey’s conception of the Mahler—the breadth of the plush, main melody, the transitions into the lighter sections, the sparkle of the mocking interludes. This music spends time lavishly, but it was time well spent on Saturday.” —Toronto Globe and Mail

“He is the very model of a modern orchestral maestro….Not only is he a supremely gifted conductor and music director, a much-published composer, a pianist (classical and jazz) and a dreamer of big projects, he is also the bearer of a fantastic sense of humor.” —Montecristo Magazine

“The establishment of the VSO School of Music was a major Tovey initiative, and a positive example of tending to the long-term musical well-being of his community.” —Vancouver Sun


About the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School:

The Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School is committed to engaging the people of Southern New England as lifelong music listeners, teachers, learners, creators and performers. It is the only professional orchestra in the country to officially designate music education and performance as equal priorities. In addition to the Philharmonic Orchestra’s Classical, Pops, education concerts and in-school performances, the Philharmonic Music School offers music education programs and performance opportunities to people of all ages, incomes and ability levels. It is currently the only comprehensive, nonprofit community music school in Rhode Island and engages approximately 1,500 students statewide on a weekly basis and an additional 20,000 students through periodic partnerships, residencies, education concerts and in-school performances.

The Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in 1944.The Music School was founded in 1988.The two merged in 2001, marking the first successful merger of its type. The Philharmonic Orchestra performs at The VETS auditorium in Providence. In 2008, the organization opened the Carter Center for Music Education & Performance to house its offices and the main branch of its growing music school. The Carter Center is the first and only facility in Rhode Island dedicated solely to music education and performance. The Center has dramatically increased the Philharmonic’s ability to provide high quality, comprehensive and accessible music education to thousands of students through scholarship and community partnership arrangements. The School’s students come from virtually every community in the state, as well as nearby Massachusetts and Connecticut. More than one-third of the students receive generous financial aid to make their study possible. Eleven other nonprofits, including the Providence Singers, Rhode Island Music Educator Association, and Rhode Island Children’s Chorus use the Carter Center weekly to provide music education and community-based music-making opportunities.


About Bramwell Tovey:

GRAMMY- and JUNO-award winning conductor and composer Bramwell Tovey is the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School’s recently announced Artistic Advisor; Principal Conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra; and Director of Orchestra and Conducting Studies at Boston University’s School of Music.

Following an exceptional 18-year tenure as Music Director of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, which concluded in summer 2018, he now returns as the orchestra’s music director emeritus. Under his leadership, the VSO toured China, Asia, Canada and the United States. His innovations included the establishment of the VSO School of Music, the VSO’s annual festival of contemporary music and the VSO Orchestral Institute, a comprehensive summer orchestral training program for young musicians held in British Columbia.

During 2018-19, his guest appearances include the Chicago, St. Louis, Houston, Indianapolis and Toronto symphonies, and a special Christmas program with the Philadelphia Orchestra. In January, he will return to the Winnipeg Symphony’s New Music Festival, which he initiated during his tenure as Music Director there.

In 2003, Tovey won the Juno Award for Best Classical Composition for his choral and brass work Requiem for a Charred Skull. In 2007, he won the Grammy for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance with Orchestra for a VSO recording of violin concertos by Barber, Korngold and Walton with violinist James Ehnes. His song cycle, Ancestral Voices, which addresses the issue of Reconciliation, was written for acclaimed Kwagiulth mezzo-soprano Marion Newman and premiered in June 2017. His trumpet concerto, Songs of the Paradise Saloon, was commissioned by the Toronto Symphony for principal trumpet, Andrew McCandless, and performed in 2014 by Alison Balsom with the LA Philharmonic, the Philadelphia and the London Philharmonic orchestras. A recording of his opera, The Inventor, commissioned by Calgary Opera, features the original cast, members of UBC Opera and the VSO. His Concerto for Orchestra will receive its world premiere during spring 2019 to commemorate the VSO’s centenary, and a new violin concerto for James Ehnes has been commissioned by the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Ottawa, and will receive its premiere at the NAC in March 2019.

Tovey was the recipient of the Oskar Morawetz 2015 Award for Excellence in Music Performance. He was previously music director of Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg where he led the world premiere of Penderecki’s Eighth Symphony on the opening of the principality’s new concert hall, the Philharmonie. He won the Prix d’or of the Academie Lyrique Française for his recording of Jean Cras’s 1922 opera Polyphème with OPL.

In 2013, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada for services to music. Since 2006, he has been artistic director of the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain.


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