Mario Bernardi and Bramwell Tovey (2005)
11 July 1953 |
Ilford, Essex (now part of Redbridge)
|Alma mater||Royal Academy of Music
University of London
Life and career
Tovey was educated at Ilford County High School, the Royal Academy of Music and the University of London. His formal music education was as a pianist and composer. Whilst at the Royal Academy, he also became a tuba player, studying with John Fletcher. During his student years he conducted several broadcasts on the BBC, and also played in the London Symphony Orchestra at the Salzburg Festival.
Tovey was appointed a staff conductor of London Festival Ballet at the age of 22, working with Massine on a production of Parade, Hynd on Nutcracker and Sanguine Fan and with Nureyev on Romeo and Juliet. In 1978 he became Music Director of Scottish Ballet, conducting Peter Darrell's major ballets including Cheri and Five Rückert Songs (with Janet Baker). From 1984 to 1988 he was Principal Conductor of Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet. During this period he also conducted several British orchestras and appeared as pianist in Elite Syncopations. Tovey conducted the first season of the revived D'Oyly Carte Opera Company in 1988. Between 1989 and 2001, he was the music director of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, and was instrumental in establishing the city's annual New Music Festival, which began in 1992.
Tovey became music director of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (VSO) in September 2000. His initial contract was renewed in December 2004, and extended again in January 2010 to 2015. In November 2013, the VSO announced the further extension of Tovey's contract through the 2017-2018 season, and the scheduled conclusion of his music directorship of the VSO at that time. Tovey is scheduled to take the title of VSO music director emeritus with the 2018-2019 season, the VSO's 100th season.
In December 2009, Tovey and the VSO rejected an invitation to play at the 2010 Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Vancouver, after the Vancouver Organizing Committee requested that the orchestra pre-record music that other musicians and a different conductor would mime to at the televised event. Tovey remarked that the plan was "dishonest" and "fraudulent." 
He 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.
Tovey has conducted the "Summertime Classics" series of concerts with the New York Philharmonic since the inception of the series in the summer of 2004, after his 2001 subscription debut with the orchestra. Tovey was appointed Artistic Director of the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain and conducted his first course in April 2006. He has a long-standing affiliation with the Fodens Brass Band and conducted a CD of his compositions with the Foden's Band, released in May 2009. In March 2008, Tovey was named the next principal guest conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Hollywood Bowl summer concerts.
Tovey has also become known as a composer. His compositions include a Cello Concerto (premiered in Winnipeg in January 2001), 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. The full score was released on iTunes. Tovey was nominated for a Genie Award (Canada's Academy Award), in tandem with Bell, for a song in the film called "In a Heartbeat", which was performed by Thea Gill. On commission from the 2005 British Open Brass Band Championship, Tovey composed 'The Night to Sing' as the test piece, inspired by the celebrations of VE Day, 1945. In 2007, Calgary Opera commissioned a new opera from Tovey, currently titled The Inventor.
Tovey has been involved with numerous television and radio programs related to music. He conducted Cinderella with Scottish Ballet for ITV and Daphnis and Chloé for Channel 4 and two television programmes with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. He has been the recipient of four honorary doctorates - Winnipeg (1994), Manitoba (1999), Kwantlen University College (2004) and the University of British Columbia. He is an honorary Fellow of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto (2006) and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music in London, England (2006). He and his wife Lana have two daughters and he has a son, Ben Tovey, from a previous marriage.
|1979||Cinderella (Rossini, arr. Tovey)||Orchestra||Choreography by Peter Darrell
Premiered at Her Majesty's Theatre, (Aberdeen, Scotland) Over 200 performances
|1981||The Three Graces||Piano trio||Premiered at the Dumfries and Galloway Festival, Scotland|
|1986||The Snow Queen (ballet arranged from songs, piano works and The Fair at Sorochyntsi by Modest Mussorgsky as well as fragments from Mussorgsky's sketchbooks)||Orchestra, solo soprano||Choreography by David Bintley
Premiered by Sadler's wells Royal Ballet with Tovey conducting Over 300 performances to date
|1986||Coventry Variations (based on "The Coventry Carol")||Brass||Premiered at Derngate Theatre (Northampton, England) with Tovey conducting|
|1992||Party Pieces||12-piece ensemble||Premiered at the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra's New Music Festival|
|1995||The Bardfield Ayre||Brass band||Commissioned and premiered by the Hannaford Band, with Tovey conducting|
|1997||A Fistful of Gilders||Narrator, children's chorus & orchestra||Premiered by the Assiniboine South Youth Choir and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, with Tovey conducting|
|1999||Concerto for viola & orchestra||Viola and orchestra||Premiered by Dan Scholz (viola) and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, with Tovey conducting.|
|2000||Concerto for cello and orchestra||Cello & orchestra||Commissioned by Bill and Shirley Loewen
Premiered at the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra's New Music Festival by Paul Marleyn (cello) and the WSO, with Tovey conducting
|2003||Requiem for a Charred Skull||Large choir & brass brand||Recorded by the Amadeus Choir and the Hannaford Band in Toronto|
|2003||Magnificat||Soprano, chorus, children's chours, brass & percussion||Commissioned by the Hannaford Band with the assistance of the Laidlaw Foundation
Premiered by Laura Whalen (soprano), Canadian Children's Opera Chorus and the Hannaford Band, with Richard Bradshaw conducting
|2004||Santa Barbara Sonata||Brass quintet||Commissioned by Music Academy of the West for Canadian Brass
Premiered by Canadian Brass
|2004||Manhattan Music||Brass quintet & orchestra||Premiered by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and Canadian Brass, with Tovey conducting|
|Voice & orchestra||Recorded by Vancouver Symphony and Chor Leoni with Tovey conducting
Song "In a Heartbeat" nominated for 2007 Genie Award for "Best Achievement in Music - Original Song"
|2005||The Night to Sing||Brass band||Commissioned by the British Open Brass Band Championship as the test-piece|
|April 2006||Urban Cabaret||Solo trombone, brass & percussion||Commissioned for and premiered by the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain and Joe Alessi, principal trombone of the New York Philharmonic, with Tovey conducting
Recording released in 2007
|January 2007||Pictures in the Smoke||Piano, brass band & percussion
(Also version for piano, orchestral brass and percussion - see below)
|Premiered at the Royal Northern College of Music (Manchester, England), with Tovey playing piano and conducting|
|May 2007||Nine Daies Wonder||Brass band & violin||Commissioned and premiered by the Hannaford Band with Mark Fewer (violin) and Tovey conducting|
|September 2007||Fugitive Voices||2 sopranos, mezzo-soprano & string septet||Commissioned by Sweetwater Festival, Ontario|
|September 2007||Manhattan Music (revised version)||Brass quintet & wind orchestra||Commissioned by Canadian Brass and premiered at the Eastman School of Music with Mark Scatterday conducting|
|October 2007||Echoes of Jericho||4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, percussion & timpani||Composed for and premiered at the 10th Anniversary of the Chan Centre of the Performing Arts in British Columbia
Premiere by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra brass section and the University of British Columbia Orchestra, with Tovey conducting.
|January 2008||Pictures in the Smoke (revised version)||Orchestral brass, percussion & solo piano||North American premiere which took place in January 2008 as part of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra's new music series, with Tovey playing and conducting|
|July 2008||Urban Runway||Strings, harps, piano/celesta, percussion, & timpani||Los Angeles Philharmonic co-commission with the New York Philharmonic. First performed 4 July 2008 with New York Philharmonic, Tovey conducting. LA premiere a week later at Hollywood Bowl.|
|January 2011||The Inventor||Full length opera with voices & instrumentation||Calgary Opera Commission. World premiere Calgary Opera with Calgary Philharmonic 29 January 2011
(Recorded live with Vancouver Symphony, UBC Opera and original cast, June 2012)
- Artist Biographies, Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet Gala Programme Book, Sadler's Wells Theatre, 30 April 1985, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, no page numbers.
- Artist Biographies, Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet Season Programme Booklet, Sadler's Wells Theatre, December 1988.
- Lisle, Nicola. "When the wheels came off the Carte", Classical Music, 17 February 2007, p. 12
- "In Brief: Vancouver Symphony re-signs music director". CBC (on-line). 2004-12-20. Retrieved 2007-12-13.
- David Gordon Duke (2010-01-28). "Bramwell Tovey signs on for five more years". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 2010-02-06.[dead link]
- David Gordon Duke (2013-11-30). "VSO transition: Music director Bramwell Tovey to step down after 2018 season". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 2013-12-01.
- "Vancouver Symphony says no to Olympic opening". CBC News (on-line). 2009-12-19. Retrieved 2009-12-19.
- Ben Mattison (2004-12-20). "Conductor Bramwell Tovey Extends Vancouver Symphony Tenure, Steps Down From Luxembourg Post". Playbill Arts. Retrieved 2007-12-23.
- Biography from Boston Symphony Orchestra website. Retrieved 14 August 2013.
- Lawrence van Gelder (2004-04-08). "Arts, Briefly". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-12-13.
- Peter W. Goodman (2007-07-03). "Philharmonic Summer: The Ins and Outs". Playbill Arts. Retrieved 2007-12-23.
- Yvonne Zacharias (2008-03-18). "VSO conductor Tovey works double time in L.A.". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 2008-03-19.
- Vivien Schweitzer (2007-05-25). "Conductor Bramwell Tovey to Write Opera". Playbill Arts. Retrieved 2007-12-23.
- "A Maestro Scores in the Indies". Globe and Mail. 6 November 2004.
- Morley Walker (2004-02-19). "Tovey says WSO in good hands". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved 2009-02-21.
- Bramwell Tovey. Music note for The Snow Queen, Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet Season Programme Booklet, Sadler's Wells Theatre, December 1986 - January 1987.
- Official Bramwell Tovey website
- Biography Vancouver Symphony Orchestra
- AllMusic.com biography of Bramwell Tovey
- Biography from Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra
- Agency Biography (IMG Artists LLC)
|Music Director, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra
|Music Director, Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra