Of current interest...
October 12, 2018
A Huge Win for the Rhode Island Philharmonic...
Bramwell Tovey
Bramwell Tovey

 

Larry Rachleff served as music director and conductor of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra, one of the state’s cultural jewels, for 21 years. He did a wonderful job encouraging an appreciation of classical music in the state, and invited talented performers such as Yo-Yo Ma to perform in front of captivated audiences.

Mr. Rachleff stepped down last year to concentrate on his work as a music professor at Houston’s Rice University. The challenging search for a replacement has finally ended, and the result is a huge win for the orchestra — and Rhode Island.

Bramwell Tovey, who recently stepped down as music director of Canada’s Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, will be assuming the mantle on Oct. 20 and taking over full-time in 2019.

His credentials are superb, to say the least.

The British-born, 65-year-old conductor became director of orchestral activities at Boston University School of Music last September. He’s also been music director of Canada’s Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and the Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra, and currently serves as principal conductor of the United Kingdom’s BBC Concert Orchestra.

Mr. Tovey has been a guest conductor for the New York Philharmonic, London Festival Ballet, Fodens Brass Band, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, among others.

In addition, he has written operas and concertos, worked with world-renowned groups such as the Canadian Brass, and recorded 13 albums. He won a Juno Award in 2003, the most prestigious honor for Canadian artists of different musical genres, as well as a Grammy Award in 2007.

The praise he has received during his career is as impressive as his many accomplishments.

Musical America, the nation’s oldest classical music magazine, called Mr. Tovey “one of the most versatile and charismatic musicians in the world.” Vancouver’s Montecristo Magazine described him as “the very model of a modern orchestral maestro ... a supremely gifted conductor and music director, a much published composer, a pianist (classical and jazz) and a dreamer of big projects.”

The Los Angeles Times noted he was a “more mischievous teacher than, say, the late Leonard Bernstein,” thanks to his robust sense of humor, but “was but just as illuminating.”

(Mr. Bernstein, one of the world’s greatest conductors, once called Mr. Tovey a “great hero of mine” after the latter filled in for him at the last minute as the conductor of a London Symphony Orchestra concert.)

Mr. Tovey was a guest conductor for the Rhode Island Philharmonic twice in the past two seasons, and received high praise. His first performance as music director next month at Veterans Memorial Auditorium, which will include George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” will therefore be highly anticipated by many Rhode Island concert-goers.

He wants to play an active role in the orchestra’s music school, as he did with great success in Canada.

It is disappointing that younger people seem less interested in classical music than older people, since its beauty greatly enriches life. Perhaps Mr. Tovey’s energy and enthusiasm can help turn that around. A new generation of young, talented classical musicians in Rhode Island would serve our community now and well into the future.

We welcome the new maestro, and wish him the best of luck.

 

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