Brott Music Festival

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Brott Music Festival
Genre classical, jazz, chamber, pops
Dates June, July and August
Founded by Boris Brott

Founded in 1988 by conductor Boris Brott, the Brott Music Festival presents annual classical, jazz, chamber, pops, multidisciplinary and education concerts throughout the greater Hamilton, Ontario region in Canada.[1] The orchestra in residence is the National Academy Orchestra of Canada, Canada's only professional orchestral training program.


The Brott Music Festival's catchment area is essentially the 905 WEST area and extends from the Durham region east to Metropolitan Toronto west to the Niagara region, and south of Hamilton to Haldimand-Norfolk.[1]


BMF began as a way of providing cultural activity during the summer months in Hamilton, Ontario and was founded as a two-week Summer Music Festival in 1988 by conductor Boris Brott. Its budget has since grown from $50,000 to just under $1.5 million and it has become Canada's largest orchestral music festival. It is lauded throughout music circles for its continued emphasis on non-traditional and multidisciplinary performances.[2] Nationally, Brott Music Festivals draw principal players and soloists from across Canada. The orchestra in residence is the National Academy Orchestra of Canada, which is also a training program for emerging professional musicians. The NAO is the only program of its kind in Canada and is similar to the Orchestra of the New World in Florida.[3][4]

Summer Music Festival and other activities[edit]

BMF's main activity takes place in June, July and August, annually. The Festival also presents Education Concerts for elementary students at Hamilton Place each autumn and three performances of Handel's Messiah every December. Its soloists and performers are world class and its performances are known for their high artistic quality an innovation. [5][6]


  • 1988 - Boris Brott founds the 11-day Boris Brott Summer Music Festival as a way to fill the void of cultural activity during the summer months in the Hamilton area. First Festival has five performances.
  • 1989 - National Academy Orchestra inaugural season as official Orchestra of the BMF. NAO first supported by the Ministry of Labour. The NAO trains through the Mentor-Apprentice approach and its real-to-life rehearsal and performance schedules.
  • 1997 - BMF gives first annual concert on front lawn at the newly restored Windermere House at Lake Rousseau, Ontario
  • 1998 - Department of Canadian Heritage and Human Resources Canada fund the National Academy Orchestra as a National Arts Training School.
  • 2000 - NAO and BMF garner national attention with appearances by former Prime Minister of Canada Kim Campbell who narrates a performance with her spouse, Broadway star Hershey Felder
  • 2002 - NAO is invited to perform for an audience of 800,000 for Pope John Paul II at Downsview Grounds in Toronto, ON . This is a part of the Pope’s visit to Toronto in July 2002 during World Youth Day celebrations.[7]
  • 2005 - World premiere of Barbara Croall's MIDAWEWE ' IGAN - THE SOUND OF THE DRUM.
  • 2006 - Canada's first person in space, astronaut Marc Garneau guest stars in Music & Space. Members of the NAO and an actor portraying Mozart visit Holy Family Elementary School to say Happy 250th Anniversary to Mozart. Appearance is broadcast live on CH News At Noon.
  • 2007 - 20th Anniversary celebration of BMF. Mahler’s 8th Symphony Of A Thousand is performed as 20th anniversary summer finale with an orchestra of 120, a choir of 250, eight soloists, The Brantford Children’s Chorus, and eight off-stage brass. Over 30 of the 120 orchestral musicians were NAO alumni who returned from all over Canada to join in the celebration. Concert is sold out and receives a 6-minute standing ovation and five curtain calls. It was only the work’s eighth performance in Canadian history and a first for Hamilton.
  • 2008 - BMF continues its Gift of Music project with the Hamilton Spectator which sees it going into local long-term care facilities. Mohawk College becomes primary site for rehearsals and mainstage performances. World premieres of BMF-commissioned Dagwaagin (It is Autumn) by Barbara Croall and Omar Daniel's Alouette Variations: A Canadian Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra. Thirteen-year-old piano prodigy Jan Lisiecki appears twice on BMF stages to great acclaim. BMF premieres its original script for Beethoven & The Bully, an education concert on December 2, 2008

Locations of performances[edit]

BMF performs in traditional concert hall settings such as Hamilton Place, Dofasco Centre for the Performing Arts, Mohawk College's McIntyre Theatre and the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto. It also performs in area churches including Christ's Church Cathedral, Melrose United, St. Christopher's Anglican in Burlington, West Highland Baptist and St. John's Anglican in Ancaster. Other non-traditional, but picturesque venues include the Royal Botanical Gardens, Dundurn Castle, Whitehern Museum and the Art Gallery of Hamilton. [8]

Awards and accolades[edit]

The BMF has received Tourism Ambassador Award from Tourism Hamilton as well as Tourism Business of the Year (under 50,000). BMF Artistic Director Boris Brott has received numerous awards for his role in founding and building the Brott Music Festival. He was awarded the Order of Ontario in 2006, Lifetime Achievement Awards from Tourism Hamilton and the City of Hamilton Arts Awards in 2007 and the National Child Day Award from the Canadian Institute for Child Health in Ottawa in November 2007. In May 2006, he was voted as the top five Greatest Hamiltonians of all times by Hamilton Spectator readers.

Boris Brott and music education programs[edit]

Brott Music Festival concerts re-introduced music education performances to Hamilton in 1999. Since then, the NAO has performed for over 144,000 schoolchildren from across southern Ontario. Brott Music Education is fortunate to have Boris Brott at its artistic helm. Maestro Brott was the recipient of the Canadian Institute for Children's National Child Day Award this past November. It is estimated that Boris has introduced classical music to one million children over the course of his career. He has written over 300 scripted concerts for students with titles such as Welcome Bach, Meet Mr. Beethoven, Trick or Treat to a Wicked Beat, There’s an Animal in My Orchestra, Boris The Explorer: So You Want to Sing? and J.S. Bach Meets Glenn Gould. Brott Music Education Concerts have been lauded for their effective combination of visuals, dance, narration and interactive activities for spellbound young audiences. Brott is also currently principal Education & Family Conductor at the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, Music Director of New West Symphony in Los Angeles, and the McGill Chamber Orchestra in Montreal. He founded Brott Music Festival in 1988 and the National Academy Orchestra of Canada in 1989.

Primary grade (JK to Gr. 3/4) concerts are packaged around a well-known introduction to the orchestra - Carnival of the Animals, Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, Peter & the Wolf to name a few. Multidisciplinary approaches are incorporated i.e. Carnival of the Animals danced by the Ottawa School of Music and slides and film clips for virtually every program. Other well-loved excerpts of music are added around an accessible theme.

Brott Music Education Concert highlights over the past nine years have included: The Sophia Diaries: A Musical Exploration of Canada in the 1840s The Underground Railroad: A Musical Journey narrated by Hon. Lincoln Alexander Animal Crackers with Ottawa Dance Studio Music In Space with astronaut Marc Garneau From Ghost Ships to Space Ships: Musical Explorations with astronaut Roberta Bondar Music & The Inuit Spirit with throat singers, drum dancers and soapstone carver Melodies & Myths: A celebration of Aboriginal Music featuring the world premiere of Barbara Croall’s Mi’degaawen

The second category is for middle school grades 4-8 and is even more strongly based on curriculum worked out with teachers and arts consultants on the BMF Education Committee. These programs can be based around the life of a composer and often feature an actor portraying Mozart, Beethoven or Dvorak etc. Programming selections must contain excerpts of varying styles and colours representative of that particular composer. Programs inculcate contemporary Canadian composition since they illustrate the influence that specific composer may have had on another contemporary Canadian composer.

BMF has commissioned a Canadian Introduction to the Orchestra: Variations on Alouette by Omar Daniel to be premiered in 2008. BMF believes this is essential to the growth of Canadian music education. BMF has considerable Canadian representation on its education repertoire, including a memorable world premiere in 2005 by First Nations composer Barbara Croall entitled Midigewe'wan (Sound of the Drum).


  1. ^ a b "Festivals: Brott Summer Music Festival" Toronto Life, Rick MacMillan, June 2005, p. 98
  2. ^ "Boris Brott leads the way in having fun with music" The Toronto Star Geoff Chapman, July 15, 2002
  3. ^ "Boris Brott: Of Music Note" Phyllis Feldman, Lifestyle Magazine, July 2005 p. 21
  4. ^ "National Academy Orchestra" The Music Scene, Summer 2005, Danielle Dubois p.11
  5. ^ "Four area innovators" The Hamilton Spectator June 1999
  6. ^ "Moving finale to Pathetique left audience spellbound" Hugh Fraser, Hamilton Spectator July 1, 2002.
  7. ^ "Brott conducted orchestra for Pope" The Hamilton Spectator July 23, 2002 Hugh Fraser.
  8. ^ "Brott to you: Boris's summer festival blooms in 10 venues" Leonard Turnevicius, The Hamilton Spectator Sat. July 2, 2005, p. Go 9

External links[edit]