Boris Brott loved Beethoven’s “Ninth Symphony”.
So much so that earlier this year it programmed Beethoven’s magnificent masterpiece with its iconic choral finale “Ode to Joy” to open the 35th edition of its eponymous annual music festival on Thursday 30 June at 7:30 p.m. at the FirstOntario Concert Hall. Unfortunately, Brott will not be on the podium for this opening concert. He was killed in a hit-and-run near his downtown Hamilton home on April 5, three weeks after celebrating his 78th birthday.
“Boris always said the happiest work was the one he had just conducted or was about to start studying,” said his widow, Ardyth Brott, executive director of the Brott Music Festival and BrottOpera. . “He also loved conducting Beethoven’s ‘Ninth’. He led the “Ninth” wherever he led in the world.
Thus, the BMF makes every effort to honor and celebrate its late founder. The opening concert, “The Unconquerable Soul: A festival in memory of Maestro Boris Brott”, will feature BMF Acting Artistic Director Alain Trudel leading the National Academy Orchestra of Canada, soprano Sydney Baedke, mezzo Simona Genga, tenor Scott Rumble, baritone Gregory Dahl, Alexander Cann’s 50-voice Bach Elgar Choir and 25 additional professional choristers in Beethoven’s ‘Ninth Symphony’.
“It’s very appropriate that we do something joyful to celebrate his memory,” said Trudel.
Substituting a work like Mozart’s or Verdi’s “Requiem” for Beethoven’s joyous colossus was never considered. To do so would have cast only a dark veil over the proceedings.
“He would have been so disappointed if we had done that,” Trudel said of Brott. “I don’t think he would have been comfortable with a big ‘Requiem’ thing.”
The concert will open with Louis Applebaum’s “Place Setting,” a brief work intended as the first official piece heard at the grand opening of the Great Hall at Hamilton Place, now FirstOntario Concert Hall, on September 22, 1973, with Brott conducting the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra. Orchestra on this momentous occasion.
“Boris conducted the first musical notes at Hamilton Place – the Applebaum ‘Place Setting’,” said Ardyth Brott. “I remember how delighted he was to open the room. Everyone came from afar to participate in this opening. I was sitting in the middle of the hallway with my parents. We were all delighted. It’s a beautiful piece and he so wanted to do it again this year.
The work begins with only cellos, basses and percussion on stage. The solo violin then continues on its way, playing the main motif of the work. The other orchestral groups take turns entering and rising, except for a brass quintet which is instructed to play from the balcony and then beside or behind the orchestra. Once the orchestra is assembled on stage, the conductor makes a grand entrance and, in due course, signals the audience to rise for “O Canada” which concludes the work.
“It’s like a rally,” said Trudel of the Applebaum. “You discover the sound of the room. You discover the sound of the orchestra. It was also written when they formed the Canadian Brass. So there is a big role for the brass quintet. Of course, it’s a tribute to Boris. He contributed a lot to that. »
To follow the Applebaum explosion of the past, Montrealer Trudel programmed “Citius, altius, fortius!” an energetic opening, inspired by the Olympic motto “faster, higher, stronger”, by Maxime Goulet, a Montreal composer of whom Montrealer Brott was a big fan.
“I wanted to do something with Maxime because he was so close to Boris,” said Trudel. “It’s a short piece. With Beethoven’s “Ninth” (65 minutes), you don’t want to overload the schedule.
Like the Beethoven and the Applebaum, Goulet’s 2008 overture was also a work Brott knew well. He and his NAO performed it as part of a medley of pieces assembled by Hamilton’s Stephane Potvin and heard alongside the fireworks during the Canada 150 celebrations at Bayfront Park in 2017.
Tickets to brottmusic.com or by calling 905-525-7664: $59, senior $54, student $25, child 12 and under $10 (HST and fees included).
The Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra has announced that due to illness, Gemma New will not be conducting concerts this weekend. Andrei Feher and Gary Kulesha will replace New on June 24 and 26 respectively.