Brott conducting a Hungarian orchestra in 2007
|Born||March 14, 1944|
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
|Occupation||conductor, composer & violinist|
Boris Brott, OC OOnt (born March 14, 1944) is a Canadian conductor and motivational speaker. He is one of the most internationally recognized Canadian conductors, having conducted on stages around the world, including Carnegie Hall and Covent Garden. He is known for his innovative methods of introducing classical music to new audiences. Over his career, he has commissioned, performed and recorded a wide variety of Canadian works.
Brott is the founder and artistic director of the National Academy Orchestra of Canada and the Brott Music Festival, both based in Hamilton, Ontario. He is the founding Music Director and Conductor Laureate of the New West Symphony in Los Angeles, and Artistic Director and Conductor of the McGill Chamber Orchestra in Montreal. He is a former Principal Youth and Family conductor with the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, where he continues to conduct family and education concerts.
Early life and emerging career
Boris Jeremiah Brott was born Montreal in 1944 to violinist and composer Alexander Brott and cellist Lotte Brott. He is the brother of cellist Denis Brott. He studied violin with his father, and performed at the age of five with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra at a young peoples' matinee. He took courses at the Conservatoire de musique du Québec à Montréal and the McGill Conservatory, and in 1956 studied conducting at the summer school of Pierre Monteux, who engaged him as assistant for concerts in Europe. He next studied with Igor Markevitch and won first prize at the 1958 Pan-American conducting competition. In 1959, at the age of 15, he founded the Philharmonic Youth Orchestra of Montreal and led it in his conducting debut in that city.
In June 1962, Brott won third prize at the Liverpool Competition. He served 1963-5 as Walter Susskind's assistant conductor with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and then embarked on a career in England as conductor of the Northern Sinfonia at Newcastle upon Tyne (1964-8). He made several tours with this chamber orchestra, among which was one in Canada, which included concerts at Expo 67.
From 1964 to 1967, Brott was principal conductor for the touring company of the Royal Ballet Covent Garden. During the 1965-6 season at Covent Garden he conducted the Royal Ballet's first production at that theatre of Stravinsky's The Soldier's Tale (1966) and toured the production in Britain. He won first prize and a gold medal at the sixth Dimitri Mitropoulos International Music Competition in 1968 and served 1968-9 as assistant conductor to Leonard Bernstein, with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.
Brott was named one of Canada's Outstanding Young Men in 1969 and 1973 by the Junior Chamber of Commerce. In 1972 Brott was appointed conductor of the BBC Welsh Orchestra.
Development of Canadian Orchestras
From 1969 to 1990 Brott was artistic director and conductor of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, which grew from an amateur ensemble to a professional one with a 42-week season and 16,000 subscribers. The orchestra also gave birth to the quintet Canadian Brass. Brott and the HPO were in the news when they performed in the middle of a steel factory blast furnace in Hamilton's industrial core at Dofasco Inc.- now Arcelor Mittal. A charismatic maestro, Brott included visual elements, ballet dancers, Shakespearean actors, film, rock groups, even astronauts to the stages of classical music concerts.
In 1975, Brott assumed directorship of the CBC Winnipeg Orchestra. In 1977 he had made his opera debut, conducting Donizetti's Daughter of the Regiment for the COC. Brott later directed Opera Hamilton and guest-conducted with the Canadian Opera Company and Sadler's Wells Opera.
Brott served as the Principal Youth and Family conductor with the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa. From 1982 to 1985 he was artistic director of Symphony Nova Scotia. He led the Ontario Place Pops Orchestra 1983-1991.
Founding of Brott Music Festival and National Academy Orchestra of Canada
In 1988, he founded the Brott Music Festival, which has since become Canada's largest orchestral music festival. It is a major cultural event in Hamilton and surrounding areas for the months of July and August. From that, he created the National Academy Orchestra of Canada, recognized in 1999 as a National School by the Department of Canadian Heritage. The NAO pairs music graduates pursuing a career with professional musicians from North American orchestras in a mentor-apprentice relationship. It is Canada's only professional training orchestra and has graduated about 1,000 musicians.
Law school, and lecturing, broadcasting and recording
Brott studied law at the University of Western Ontario 1992-5, and in 1995 began giving motivational seminars to Fortune 500 companies using symphonic music as a metaphor. Brott has produced, conducted, or hosted a large number of television and radio programs for the CBC, and the BBC and ITV in the UK, and recorded with various orchestras for CBC, Mercury, Pro-Arte and Sony Classical.
Brott became the first music director of the New West Symphony, California, in 1995, and was later named Conductor Laureate.
Brott embarked on a guest conducting schedule at Italy's opera halls, including the Teatro Petruzzelli, the Arena di Verona and the Teatro Giuseppe Verdi in Trieste. In 2000, he conducted the first performance of Bernstein's Mass in Vatican City for an audience which included the late Pope John Paul II. In 2002, he took over leadership of the McGill Chamber Orchestra.
In 2011 Brott was named Principal Guest Conductor of the historic Petruzzelli Theatre in Bari, Italy.
As of 2018, Brott continues to direct the National Academy Orchestra of Canada and the Brott Music Festival in Hamilton, to conduct the McGill Chamber Orchestra in Montreal, and to conduct performances for children with the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa.
In May, 2006 he was voted one of the top five Greatest Hamiltonians of all time by Hamilton Spectator readers. In 2007, he was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by Tourism Hamilton and was also awarded Canada's National Child Day award in Ottawa for introducing classical music to over a million schoolchildren over his career to date. Also in 2007, he received the City of Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Arts Award.
Brott is married to author and attorney Ardyth Webster Brott and has three children. He makes his permanent home in Hamilton, Ontario.
- "Presenting Boris Brott News: Boris Brott Biography". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2008-01-15.
- Roderick L. Sharpe; Jeanne Koekkoek Stierman (30 May 2008). Maestros in America: Conductors in the 21st Century. Scarecrow Press. p. 30. ISBN 978-1-4616-6948-7.
- Bill Griffiths (2004). Northern Sinfonia: A Magic of Its Own. Northumbria University Press. p. 17. ISBN 978-1-904794-07-3.
- Boris Brott: Meet the Maestro". GoodTimes, October 1, 2018, By Peter Feniak
- "Music A Keynote Of Brott Family". Port Arthur News Chronicle, 25 Sep 1968
- "1969: Boris Brott takes lead of Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra". Hamilton Spectator, Sep 23, 2016
- "Leonard Turnevicius: Brott Music Festival’s 30th anniversary something to sing about". Hamilton Spectator, Apr 08, 2017 by Leonard Turnevicius
- "Thirty years later, the National Academy Orchestra of Canada still develops Canada’s professional musicians". By William Littler Toronto Star, June 23, 2018
- "Boris Brott". The Canadian Encyclopedia, by Claire Versailles, Betty Nygaard King, Gilles Potvin. February 8, 2007