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Sarasota Orchestra Music Director Bramwell Tovey dies

Bramwell Tovey holding a baton while conducting
David Cooper
/
British-born conductor Bramwell Tovey, who led the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra for 18 years before being named Sarasota Orchestra's Music Director last year, has died of cancer.

Bramwell Tovey, who took over last August as the sixth music director in the orchestra's 72-year history, died of cancer.

British-born conductor Bramwell Tovey, who led the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra for 18 years before being named Sarasota Orchestra's Music Director last year, has died of cancer.

The Sarasota Orchestra announced Tovey's death at his Barrington, R.I., home on Wednesday, two days after his 69th birthday.

Tovey was diagnosed with a rare form of sarcoma in May 2019 and after undergoing surgery in June 2021, he was briefly cancer-free.

But in January of this year, scans confirmed a re-occurrence.

“There was immediate chemistry between Maestro Tovey and our orchestra," Joseph McKenna, president and CEO of Sarasota Orchestra, said in a news release. "We shared with him an expectation of a long partnership. Like so many, all of us at Sarasota Orchestra feel the tremendous loss of a great friend and sincere collaborator. Our heartfelt thoughts are with his family during this most difficult hour.”

Classical WSMR Music Director Russell Gant said he first met Tovey a couple years ago, when the Sarasota Orchestra was conducting a nationwide search.

"He was so genuinely nice," Gant said. "With that kind of personality, he very rapidly built a rapport with the Sarasota Orchestra and that's so important between a music director and musicians to have that kind of rapport and I was so excited to see what was ahead and now this tragic, sudden news. It's hard to take."

Last August, Tovey was named the orchestra's sixth music director in its 72-year history after an extensive nationwide search.

Prior to leading the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Tovey led such orchestras as the BBC Concert Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Rhode Island Philharmonic.

His last appearance with the orchestra was during its season finale in April.

“The musical world has lost a real treasure,” said Tom Ryan, board chair of Sarasota Orchestra.

On Tuesday's Concert with Sarasota Orchestra, WSMR will feature the Symphony No. 7 by Beethoven. It airs at 8 p.m. WSMR 89.1 and 103.9.

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