RI Philharmonic's conductor Tovey dies

Bramwell Tovey, conductor of the RI Philharmonic Orchestra who died July 12, 2022 is seen in a September, 2018 photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News

By Steve Klamkin WPRO News

Conductor and composer Bramwell Tovey, the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra’s principal conductor and and artistic director died at his home in Barrington on Tuesday, one day after his 69th birthday, according to the orchestra.

The British-born Tovey had long tenures with orchestras in Europe and Canada, where he was honored with the Order of Canada, one of that country’s highest decorations.

He came to lead the Rhode Island Philharmonic in 2018, and battled through a cancer diagnosis the following year, suffering a reoccurrence of a rare sarcoma in January of this year.

“We are all heartbroken,” said David Beauchesne, the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra’s Executive Director in a statement. “His
death is a profound loss to our organization and community, and to musicians and audiences around the globe.”

As he prepared to come back to conduct the orchestra in April, 2021, Tovey spoke with WPRO News about his and the Philharmonic’s goal to expand and diversify it’s offerings and audience.

“I think the important thing is we just remember that we are now moving into a new era where everyone needs to be included, and we’re trying to make sure that issues of diversity and inclusion also apply in our audition process, in our recruitment process,” he said.

Tovey said his intention was “to talk to leaders and individuals within difference communities to get their advice on how we can be more inclusive, how we can make ourselves more relatable to people who’ve traditionally not been part of our audience,” he told WPRO News.

The Philharmonic has named Tania Miller as Interim Principal Conductor for the 2022-23 season, which will be dedicated to Tovey’s memory, and a memorial fund will be established in Bramwell Tovey’s name to support the Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School.

According to a statement from the orchestra, Tovey died peacefully at home July 12, surrounded by loved ones. He is survived by his children Ben, Jessica and Emmeline, his partner Verena De Neovel, his sisters, grandchildren, nieces and nephew.