RI Philharmonic Orchestra kicks off Season 75 featuring Bramwell Tovey’s inaugural and guest artist Grammy-winner Yefim Bronfman, Sept. 28



Pianist Bronfman performs
Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No.3

The Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra ushers in its 75th season with conductor Bramwell Tovey on Saturday, Sept. 28, for his inaugural concert. The season is Tovey’s first in his role as Artistic Advisor for the Orchestra and its Music School. He will conduct 19 concerts during the 2019-2020 season.

The season opener features Grammy-winning pianist Yefim Bronfman and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No.3, which is known as one of the most challenging pieces of classical music to perform. Tovey and the Orchestra will also perform Bartók’s popular Concerto for Orchestra.

The TACO Classical concert is at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 28, at The VETS.

“I am tremendously excited to be back in Rhode Island to begin my first full season with this wonderful Orchestra. I am especially thrilled that my friend ‘Fima’ Bronfman is joining us for his Providence debut. He is one of the great artists of our time, and is fantastic to work with. I know the audience will love him just as much as the Orchestra. This opening concert is a great example of what we’re working to do all season long—bring incredible music and artists to the stage of The VETS and deliver unforgettable performances. We’ve programmed masterworks, pieces seldom heard, and a good many pieces and artists that will be featured in Rhode Island for the first time. We hope everyone in the community is as excited as we are for opening night!”

Bramwell Tovey
Artistic Advisor and Conductor

“This season we celebrate two great milestones: 75 years of symphonic music-making, and the start of a new era with internationally renowned Bramwell Tovey leading us on the podium and in the community. Last season Tovey programmed and led a spectacular all-Tchaikovsky gala. Now we get to experience an entire season of his own design,” said . “He is among the best in the world at inspiring orchestras and audiences. You won’t want to miss a single concert—especially not the first one!”

David Beauchesne
Executive Director

About Bramwell Tovey, Artistic Advisor and Conductor

As Artistic Advisor and Conductor of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School, Bramwell Tovey embarks on his first full season leading the Orchestra. Since his appointment last September, Mr. Tovey has collaborated closely with staff and musicians to plan for this and future seasons. He conducted two stunning programs last season, and in May spent time with our education community: visiting local schools; attending our full week of Link Up education concerts with area elementary school students; and holding masterclasses at the Philharmonic Music School’s Carter Center. During the 2019-20 season, he will lead the Orchestra in 19 performances, and nine concert programs.

A Grammy and Juno award winning conductor and composer, Mr. Tovey added the title of Artistic Director of Calgary Opera Company to his role as Principal Conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra and Artistic Advisor to the Rhode Island Philharmonic. He is currently Music Director Emeritus of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (VSO) following his 18-year tenure as Music Director. Under his leadership, the orchestra toured Asia, Canada and the United States. His tenure included the establishment of the VSO School of Music, its annual festival of contemporary music and a comprehensive summer orchestral training program for young musicians.

During the 2019-20 season, Mr. Tovey returns to the Philadelphia Orchestra for its annual Christmas concerts and New Year’s Eve Gala and will lead the New York Philharmonic’s Parks Concerts in summer 2020. In addition to monthly appearances in London, his guest conducting will take him to Scandinavia, San Diego and Sarasota.

A favorite guest conductor of the world’s finest orchestras, Mr. Tovey has led the New York Philharmonic more than 150 times. In addition to his performances as a conductor, he has performed with them as a solo pianist and has been commissioned as a composer. He has appeared with the New York Philharmonic several times on PBS’s Live from Lincoln Center and on tour throughout the United States and China. This season the RI Philharmonic Orchestra will perform Mr. Tovey’s Urban Runway, a piece co-commissioned by the Los Angeles and New York philharmonics in 2008.

In 2003, Mr. Tovey won the Juno Award for Best Classical Composition for his choral and brass work Requiem for a Charred Skull. In 2007, he won the Grammy for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance with Orchestra for a recording of violin concertos by Barber, Korngold and Walton with violinist James Ehnes. His song cycle, Ancestral Voices, which addresses the issue of Reconciliation, was written for acclaimed Kwagiulth mezzo-soprano Marion Newman and premiered in June 2017. His trumpet concerto, Songs of the Paradise Saloon, was commissioned by the Toronto Symphony for principal trumpet, Andrew McCandless, and performed in 2014 by Alison Balsom with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Philadelphia and the London philharmonic orchestras. A recording of his opera, The Inventor, commissioned by Calgary Opera, features the original cast, members of UBC Opera and the VSO.

Mr. Tovey was previously music director of Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg where he led the world premiere of Penderecki’s Eighth Symphony on the opening of the principality’s new concert hall, the Philharmonie. He won the Prix d’or of the Academie Lyrique Française for his recording of Jean Cras’s 1922 opera Polyphème with OPL.

Mr. Tovey splits his time among Calgary, London and Providence. He credits his devotion to music education to his children, all of whom have inherited his love of music. His daughter, Jessica, is studying violin at Boston University; daughter Emmeline is a voice student at Royal Northern College of Music in England. His son, Ben, is a guitarist who lives in London.

 About Yefim Bronfman, piano

Internationally recognized as one of today’s most acclaimed and admired pianists, Yefim Bronfman stands among a handful of artists regularly sought by festivals, orchestras, conductors and recital series. His commanding technique, power and exceptional lyrical gifts are consistently acknowledged by the press and audiences alike.

In 1991, he gave a series of joint recitals with Isaac Stern in Russia, marking Mr. Bronfman’s first public performances there since his emigration to Israel at age 15. Born in Tashkent in the Soviet Union, Yefim Bronfman emigrated to Israel with his family in 1973, where he studied with pianist Arie Vardi, head of the Rubin Academy of Music at Tel Aviv University.

In the United States, he studied at The Juilliard School, Marlboro School of Music, and the Curtis Institute of Music, under Rudolf Firkusny, Leon Fleisher and Rudolf Serkin. A recipient of the prestigious Avery Fisher Prize, one of the highest honors given to American instrumentalists, in 2010 he was further honored as the recipient of the Jean Gimbel Lane Prize in piano performance from Northwestern University and in 2015 with an honorary doctorate from the Manhattan School of Music.

About the concert: stories behind the music

Sergei Rachmaninoff (1833-1897)
Piano Concerto No.3

Challenging: Because of the concerto’s difficult and unrelenting solo part, no pianist would touch it for a long time, not even the great Joseph Hofmann to whom the work was dedicated.
Listen for this: Following the sumptuous first section comes a spirited scherzando middle section for piano and pizzicato strings on a melody clearly derived from the first movement’s main theme.

Béla Bartók (1881-1945)
Concerto for Orchestra
Most famous
: Béla Bartók introduced the world to his Concerto for Orchestra, which was destined to become his best-known music, and one of the 20th century’s great symphonic masterpieces.
Listen for this: His five-movement plan reflects the Classic-period symmetry of the divertimento, with a slow movement surrounded by two quicker movements (II and IV), which are in turn surrounded by an Introduction and a Finale.

***At a Glance ***

Bramwell Tovey Inaugural: Bronfman Plays Rachmaninoff
Sept. 28, 8 p.m.
The VETS, One Avenue of the Arts, Providence
Bramwell Tovey, conductor
Yefim Bronfman, pianist
Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No.3
Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra


Tickets start at $15 (including all fees), and can be purchased online at tickets.riphil.org, in person from the RI Philharmonic Orchestra Box Office in East Providence, or by phone 401.248.7000 (Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.). On day of concerts only, tickets are also available at The VETS Box Office (Friday, 3:30 p.m.–showtime; Saturday, 4 p.m.-showtime). Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. Questions can be emailed to boxoffice@riphil.org.