Sarasota Orchestra music director Bramwell Tovey has passed away unexpectedly at the age of 69.
The news was announced today by the orchestra, which had welcomed Tovey to town as music director only last year.
"It is with profound sadness that we share the news that music director Bramwell Tovey has passed away following declining health in recent days," the orchestra wrote in a press release.
In 2021, Tovey accepted the position of music director here; he also extended his artistic leadership position with the Rhode Island Philharmonic, and was appointed as Principal Guest Conductor with Orchestre Symphonique de Québec.
"The musical world has lost a real treasure," said Tom Ryan, board chair of Sarasota Orchestra.
Tovey impacted several generations across multiple continents through his music making, conducting and teaching. British-born, he charmed Sarasota audiences with his debut concert in October 2021 and in the finale to the Sarasota Orchestra Masterworks season this past April.
“There was immediate chemistry between Maestro Tovey and our Orchestra. We shared with him an expectation of a long partnership," said Joseph McKenna, President and CEO of Sarasota Orchestra. "Like so many, all of us at Sarasota Orchestra feel the tremendous loss of a great friend and sincere collaborator. Our heartfelt thoughts are with his family during this most difficult hour.”
Diagnosed with a rare form of sarcoma in May of 2019, Tovey underwent surgery at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston in June of 2021 that left him briefly cancer free. In January of this year, scans confirmed a re-occurrence from which he was ultimately unable to recover.
Tovey's warmth, wit and talent shone through onstage, in person and in interviews, as in this one Sarasota Magazine published in December of 2021, where he spoke enthusiastically about both the community and the orchestra he planned to lead for several years into the future.
Details about expressing condolences will be shared separately when information becomes available. Sarasota Orchestra also says that it will provide updated information about the coming season in the near future.