Maestra Tania Miller will step in as Interim Principal Conductor for the RI Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School following the passing of Maestro Bramwell Tovey. Her commitment was secured in early July at Tovey’s invitation and with full support of the organization’s board, management and orchestra committee. Miller will lead three concerts on the season and assume off stage duties as well. Other concerts previously scheduled for Tovey to conduct will be led by Kensho Watanabe and Sascha Goetzel. Leonard Slatkin will join Renée Fleming for the 2023 Annual Gala Concert on June 3, 2023.
Tania Miller was Music Director of Canada’s Victoria Symphony for 14 seasons and was named Music Director Emerita for her commitment to the orchestra and community. She has distinguished herself as a visionary leader and innovator with a growing international reputation as a highly effective communicator and advocate for the arts. When she first appeared with the RI Phil in January of 2019, critic Channing Gray commented on her “pulsing, joy-filled rendition of Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony,” including a “whirlwind final movement that was breathtaking.” She returned the following November with just two weeks notice and left the audience and orchestra spellbound with her masterful interpretation of Shostakovich’s epic 10th Symphony. Ms. Miller most recently appeared at the 2022 Annual Gala Concert. As Interim Principal Conductor she will lead October’s season opener featuring cellist Sterling Elliott, May’s season finale presentation of Verdi’s Requiem, and a January program which includes a Side-by-Side performance of Dvorak’s 8th Symphony with the RI Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. During previous engagements with the RI Phil, Ms. Miller has appeared at community gatherings and school activities. As Interim Principal Conductor, Miller will help plan the orchestra’s 23-24 season, work with students from the Music School and engage with audiences, donors, and community partners throughout the season.
Internationally acclaimed conductor Leonard Slatkin last appeared with the RI Phil in May 2022 leading a rousing concert of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony featuring Providence Singers. He is Music Director Laureate of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO), Director Musical Honoraire of the Orchester National de Lyon (ONL), and Conductor Laureate of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra (SLSO). He maintains a rigorous schedule of guest conducting throughout the world and is active as a composer, author, and educator. Slatkin has held posts in New Orleans, St. Louis, Washington, DC, London (with the BBCSO), Detroit and Lyon, France. He has also held conducting positions in Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and Cleveland.
Emerging onto the international stage over the past three years, Kensho Watanabe is fast becoming one of the most exciting and versatile young conductors to come out of the United States. He last conducted the RI Phil in November 2021 for a program of Florence Price, Ravel, and the ravishing 2nd Symphony of Rachmaninoff. Watanabe was recently recognized as a recipient of a Career Assistance Award by the Solti Foundation US. He held the position of Assistant Conductor of The Philadelphia Orchestra from 2016 to 2019, and during this time, made his critically acclaimed subscription debut with the orchestra and pianist Daniil Trifonov, taking over from his mentor Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
A dynamic, charismatic, and compelling musical presence on the podium, Sascha Goetzel has emerged as a multifaceted conductor-a remarkable orchestra builder, creative programmer, entrepreneur, educator, and advocate for musicians and artists. In late-2021, he was appointed Music Director of the Orchester National des Pays de la Loire, a post he takes on for an initial four-year term beginning in September 2022. In addition he has been appointed the position as Music Director of the NYO-CAN, the National Youth Orchestra of Canada starting summer 2022.
Bramwell Tovey, Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra, died peacefully on July 12th. Diagnosed with a rare form of sarcoma in May of 2019, Tovey underwent surgery at Dana Farber in Boston in June of 2021 that left him briefly cancer free. In January of this year, scans confirmed a reoccurrence from which he was ultimately unable to recover.
The Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra’s 2022-23 season will be dedicated to the memory of Bramwell Tovey and will celebrate his joy of music and passion for music education. A memorial fund will be established in Bramwell Tovey’s name to support the Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School and its impact on future generations of young musicians in Bramwell’s adopted state. Details on the fund will follow.
Photo: Todd Rosenberg