Bramwell Tovey is an English-born, Grammy Award-winning conductor and composer. He’ll be conducting and playing piano with the IU Summer Music Festival Orchestra at the IU Auditorium Thursday, July 21st.
“I’m delighted that the concert will begin with my own Urban Runway,” he says, going on to describe the piece. “It was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic. In it, I tried to evoke the New York City feel of people out walking about and trying to look sharp with their new clothes and new bags.”
In addition to his work as a conductor and classical pianist, Bramwell Tovey is committed to jazz. He has a couple of CDs to his credit. “The second piece on the program is George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. About fifteen years ago I began to feel that sometimes even very skilled classical pianist might miss Gershwin’s jazz flavor, and so I tried a performance conducting from the keyboard. It went well, and that’s the way we’ll be doing it in Bloomington.”
In addition to conducting and piano, Tovey also studied violin, double bass and tuba. “I grew up in a family that played in Salvation Army bands, so I learned brass instruments. Actually, the tuba was a convenient instrument in college because it wasn’t included in all the rehearsals. That gave me more time for the score study that a conductor needs so much.”
“The tuba is at least briefly featured in the finale of our concert–actually the whole second half: Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, The Titan. It has lots of winds and brass, but just a single tuba. The tuba has a lovely solo, a sort of nursery song that he’s moved from a major to a minor key. “