Taking Up the Baton

Sarasota Orchestra Names New Music Director

Bramwell Tovey begins his role as music director designate Sept. 1.

By Kay Kipling August 24, 2021

Conductor Bramwell Tovey will be the next music director of the Sarasota Orchestra.

Image: David Cooper


Sarasota Orchestra has announced the appointment of its next music director: internationally renowned conductor Bramwell Tovey.

The British-born Tovey, who was already scheduled to lead the orchestra’s season-closing Masterworks concerts in April 2022, begins his role as music director designate Sept. 1, prior to assuming the title of music director in the fall of 2022 for the following four seasons.

The orchestra’s search committee, chaired by board member Anne Folsom Smith and made up of musicians, staff and board members, unanimously recommended Tovey. Smith cited his “proven artistic leadership, experiences as an institutional leader and his desire to join us in Sarasota” as providing a “strong foundation on which to realize our long-term aspirations for a new music center.”

Tovey has led some of the most prestigious orchestras in the world over a long career, including recent performances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, New York Philharmonic at Bravo! Vail Festival, Boston Symphony Orchestra and Philadelphia Orchestra. He is also principal conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra, artistic advisor to the Rhode Island Philharmonic and principal guest conductor of Orchestre Symphonique de Quebec.

Tovey also served for 18 years as music director of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. In Vancouver, his leadership resulted in the creation of the VSO School of Music, which opened in 2011 and is housed within the Tovey Centre for Music, named in his honor in 2018.

In a press release announcing his appointment, Tovey said, “My decision to accept the invitation to become music director of Sarasota Orchestra was made because the musicians’ artistry and dedication, the organization’s health and the community’s support all resonated with an inspirational amount of vision.”

Tovey will conduct the orchestra in a special concert entitled Tovey: The Adventure Begins on Oct. 30 at the Sarasota Opera House, where he’ll be joined by fellow Grammy award winner (and area resident) violinist James Ehnes. The two are frequent collaborators. The concert at the opera house will feature Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 and music by Verdi, Saint-Saëns and Sarasate.

During his music director designate year, Tovey will also conduct two weekends as well as plan the full 2022-23 season. And he will hold auditions for open spots in the orchestra that have been deferred due to the pandemic.

By the way, single tickets for all Sarasota Orchestra concerts go on sale Tuesday, Sept. 7. Look for more information at sarasotaorchestra.org.

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