Boris Brott, conductor, violinist (born 14 March 1944 in Montreal, QC; died 5 April 2022 in Hamilton, ON); première prix (CMM), honorary LLD (McMaster) 1988. He studied violin with his father, Alexander Brott, and performed at the age of five with the orchestra of the Les Concerts symphoniques de Montréal (Montreal Symphony Orchestra) (MSO) at a young people's matinee. He took courses at the Conservatoire de musique du Québec à Montréal and the McGill Conservatory (McGill University), and 1956 studied conducting at the summer school of Pierre Monteux. The latter engaged him as assistant for concerts in Europe. He next studied with Igor Markevitch by means of a grant from the Mexican government and six months later won first prize at the 1958 Pan-American conducting competition. In 1959 he founded the Philharmonic Youth Orchestra of Montreal and led it in his conducting debut in that city. His first international success came in June 1962, when he won third prize at the Liverpool Competition. He served 1963-5 as the assistant conductor of Walter Susskind with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and then embarked on a career in England as the first conductor 1964-8 of the Northern Sinfonia at Newcastle-on-Tyne. He made several tours with this chamber orchestra, among which was one in Canada, which included concerts at Expo 67. Concurrently, 1964-7, 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.
Brott was the first music co-ordinator at Lakehead University (1968); he also directed the Lakehead Symphony Orchestra (Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra) 1967-72 and the Regina Symphony Orchestra 1971-3. In Thunder Bay he was music consultant for the four school councils for the region. From 1969 to 1990 he was artistic director and conductor of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra; under his leadership the orchestra 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 Canadian Brass.
In 1972 Brott was appointed conductor of the BBC Welsh Orchestra, and in 1975 he assumed directorship of the CBC Winnipeg Orchestra. Appointed in 1981 as interim director of the Atlantic Symphony, from 1982 to 1985 he was artistic director and conductor of Symphony Nova Scotia. He led the Ontario Place Pops Orchestra 1983-1991, and was national president of the Youth and Music Canada (Jeunesses musicales du Canada) 1987-9. In 1988, together with his wife Ardyth, he founded the Boris Brott Summer Music Festival in Hamilton, Ont. In 1989 he was appointed associate director of Alexander Brott's McGill Chamber Orchestra, and founded the National Academy Orchestra of Canada, a mentor-apprentice program.
In addition to being invited to conduct the major Canadian orchestras, Brott guest-conducted in England (BBC Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Liverpool Philharmonic, BBC Northern Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, etc), France (Orchestre des Concerts Colonne), Italy, and Central and South America, as well as orchestras in Holland, Israel, Vatican City, Scandinavia, Japan, and Korea. He also guest-conducted in the US, eg, at Chautauqua, NY; Greensboro, North Carolina; and with the Dallas Symphony, Florida Orchestra, and Seattle Symphony.
In November 1977 he conducted works by Kenins, Symonds, and Weinzweig with the orchestra of the Beethovenhalle in Bonn. A few weeks earlier 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.
He 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 became music director of the New West Symphony, California, in 1995; concurrently, in 2002, he took over leadership of the McGill Chamber Orchestra. In 2004, he was appointed principal conductor of youth and education concerts for the National Arts Centre.
Broadcasts, Recordings, and Honours
Brott 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. In 1986 he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada, and received an American Music Award. He was named Knight of Malta (1990), International Man of the Year (Cambridge, England, 1992), and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts of Great Britain (1996). In 2000, he conducted the Vatican premiere of Leonard Bernstein's controversial Mass before Pope John Paul II.
- British Music of the 20th Century: Rawsthorne - Arnold - Britten. Northern Sinfonia O. (1967). Mace MCS-9068
- Canadian Music in London, Paris and Bonn: Norman Symonds Impulse - Kenins Beatae voces tenebrae - Weinzweig Dummiyah/Silence. Beethovenhalle O of Bonn. 1977. 2-RCI 477/(Kenins) 4-ACM 33 (CD)
- Christmas Brott to You. CTL 477 5153
- Corelli Concerto Grosso No. 1, Opus 6 - Vivaldi Concerto Grosso No. 8, Opus 3. CBC Toronto string orch, Zafer violin, Benac violin. 1966. CBC SM-3
- Dances and Variations: Wallace. London SO. (1990). Campion RRCD-1307
- Davies The Mennonite Piano Concerto. I. Baerg piano, London SO. Dueck Films PSC-101/Water Lily WLCD-5995/Campion RRCD-1304
- - Good Times. Members of the London SO. (1989). Water Lily WLCD-5995/Campion RRCD-1304
- Early Works of Three Masters: Mozart - Rossini - Mendelssohn. (1967). Mace MCS-9067
- The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra: Haydn - Debussy - Wiren. CBC SM 284
- Fiala Montréal. CBC Montreal orch. 1970. RCI 291/5-ACM 27
- A Fifth of Broadway. Hamilton Phil Orch. CBC SM 5077
- The German Dances of Mozart, Schubert and Beethoven. Northern Sinfonia O. (1967). Mace MCS-9070
- Gounod Petite Symphonie - Beethoven Rondino for winds. CBC Toronto chamber ensemble. 1966. CBC SM-2
- The Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra: Poulenc - McCauley. CBC SM 264
- - Sibelius - Ravel - Stravinsky. CBC SM 200
- The Hamilton Philharmonic Virtuosi: Bizet - Gellman - Fauré - Delius. CBC SM 295
- Handel Opera Suites. Northern Sinfonia O. (1967). Mace MCS-9066
- Hooray for Hollywood. Toronto Festival Pops. 1988. Pro-Arte CDD-422
- Mozart Violin Concerto No. 5, K219 - Giardini Violin Concerto in A. Lefkowitz violin, English Chamb O. (1986). Sequence SEQ-11104
- Orchestral Music from the Mannheim School: Cannabich - Holzbauer - Richter. Northern Sinfonia O. (1967). Mace MCS-9069
- Serenades for Wind Instruments: Dvořák - Gounod. Northern Sinfonia O. (1967). Mace MCS-9065
- The Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Poulenc - Prokofieff. CH 001
- With Glowing Hearts. Symphony Nova Scotia. Lockett - Drigo - Gagnon - Branneiss Jr. CBC SM 5062