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VSO’s ‘A Tribute to Ukraine’ benefit concert now pays tribute to conductor killed on a Hamilton street

Boris Brott died Tuesday in Ontario city, two weeks before April 20 concert in Vancouver
Conductor Boris Brott in a photo posted by Vancouver Symphony Orchestra ahead of its “A Tribute to Ukraine” benefit concert, April 20 at Vancouver’s Orpheum Theatre.

The death of conductor Boris Brott has made a memorial concert of “A Tribute to Ukraine,” planned by Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (VSO).

Within an hour of announcing the April 20 concert at Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver this week, VSO officials learned that Brott, who was scheduled to conduct, died after being struck by a car on a street in Hamilton, Ont., in an apparent hit-and-run Tuesday morning, April 5.

“This is heartbreaking news for all who knew him, as well as Canada and the world’s music industry,” the VSO said of Brott, a Ukrainian-Canadian. “Maestro Brott was one of Canada’s most internationally recognized and celebrated conductors, holding major positions as music director and principal guest symphony and opera conductor in Canada, Europe and the United States.”

Brott celebrated his 78th birthday on March 14.

In Vancouver, the April 20 concert will go ahead “in memory of Boris Brott,” with net proceeds from ticket sales donated to the Canadian Red Cross Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Appeal. All tickets are $33 on, or call 604-876-3434.

Curated by Brott, the concert aims to celebrate Ukrainian music and artistry with compositions including Mykola Lysenko’s “Prayer for Peace,” which has become a spiritual anthem of Ukraine. Other repertoire includes works by Ukrainian composer Myroslav Skoryk and Toronto-based Canadian-Ukrainian composer Larysa Kuzmenko.

The loss of Brott “is terribly shocking news for his family, for our sector, and of course for all of us here at the VSO,” according to Angela Elster, the organization’s CEO and president.

“The VSO and the VSO School of Music’s collective hearts grew that much heavier today. And yet, the VSO’s commitment to our mission ‘to create, curate and connect irresistible musical experiences’ continues throughout times of crisis – both here at home and across the globe,” Elster added.

“The VSO is determined to keep the music going so that our community has a place for the expression of heartbreak and grief. Let music bring us together so that we are elevated, inspired, and find comfort in one another and the VSO’s music.”

Meantime, the VSO is doing a “Summer Blockbuster Movies” series of concerts featuring live music for three feature films at the Orpheum Theatre.

The movies are “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi” (July 6-7), “The Princess Bride” (July 8-9) and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2” (July 13-15), in concerts presented by TELUS. Tickets for the three movie nights went on sale April 2 on, or call 604-876-3434.

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Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news stories for the Surrey Now-Leader, where I've worked for more than half of my 30-plus years in the newspaper business.
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