Stage Door News

Hamilton: Renowned conductor Boris Brott, founder of the Brott Music Festival, killed in hit and run in Hamilton

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Boris Brott, the artistic director of the Orchestre classique de Montréal, died Tuesday after a hit and run in Hamilton that led to the driver's arrest a short time later and three officers being injured.

Brott, a renowned conductor and motivational speaker with deep ties to Hamilton, was 78.

"It is with the heaviest of hearts that we announce the sudden and tragic passing of the one and only musical genius and Canadian artistic visionary Boris Brott," the Brott Music Festival said in an afternoon statement on its Instagram account.

The conductor founded the festival and his wife, Ardyth, serves as its executive director.

"He will be sorely missed by all who appreciated his unsurpassed talent and by those who loved him.... As family and staff process this unthinkable news, we ask for privacy at this time," the festival statement said.

"I'm so very sorry to hear about the tragic passing of Boris Brott. He was a great musical ambassador for the City of Hamilton. A great loss," wrote the Hamilton-based band Junior Boys on Twitter.

"Absolutely shocked and saddened by the news of the passing of Boris Brott. His was a Canadian treasure and his visionary, musical talent made all Hamiltonians proud," said Sandy Shaw, a Hamilton member of provincial parliament.

Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger posted a message Tuesday evening on Twitter, saying: "I am struggling to find the words to express my grief at the passing of Maestro Boris Brott tragically today. I will provide a more fulsome statement soon. Right now I want to send my deep & sincere condolences to Ardyth Webster Brott & family."

The Brott Music Festival was launched in 1988 in Hamilton. It said Brott developed six Canadian orchestras, including the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, where he was music director there for 23 years. In 1987, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.

The Orchestra classique de Montréal issued a statement, saying it was in "shock and disbelief" and Brott was the "heart and soul" of the orchestra.

Orchestra board chair Deborah Corber and executive director Taras Kulish told CBC Hamilton on Tuesday evening Brott had a special ability to make classical music relatable to just about anyone while helping young musicians start their careers.

"Being in Boris' presence, whether he was making music or talking about music or telling a story about music, it always made the music come alive and seem like it really was for everybody," Corber said. "He was young at heart."

Kulish said despite his musical success and acclaim, he remained humble and never lost his passion for the art.

But Boris was more than just a master of music. He was a man of many languages, speaking English, French, Italian, Spanish and a bit of German.

He was also witty and "an encyclopedia of jokes," according to Kulish.

Kulish and Corber said there will be a memorial concert at a later date.

The hit and run Tuesday marks Hamilton's seventh crash leading to the death of a pedestrian this year.

By Bobby Hristova for www.cbc.ca.

Photo: Boris Brott.