Funeral for beloved Canadian conductor Boris Brott

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The sound of Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” rang out Sunday at Temple Anshe Sholom in Hamilton during the funeral of Boris Brott, one of Canada’s most prominent conductors.

The small chamber orchestra played for a congregation full of family, friends and employees of the maestro – whose life was cut short after an alleged hit-and-run in the city.

“Since he was taken from us, I’ve been trying to find ways to be close to him again,” Brott’s son David said on Sunday. “He wears his clothes, hangs out in his office and makes terrible jokes. Music helps, a lot. Old memories, photos, videos and inside jokes are good too. It’s great to feel his presence in a room.

On Tuesday, police said they received a report just after 10 a.m. of a vehicle driving on the wrong side of the road on Hamilton Mountain. Twenty minutes later, according to police, a pedestrian was hit.

Brott, 78, was rushed to hospital after the crash near Park Avenue South on Markland Street, just south of downtown. He was pronounced dead a short time later.

Brott’s death struck a chord in Canada’s classical music community, especially in his hometown of Hamilton, where Mayor Fred Eisenberger described him as a “man of the people.”

“Boris leaves an unparalleled legacy of musical excellence and humanitarianism and it is a void in Hamilton that will be very, very difficult to fill,” Eisenberger said during Sunday’s service.

“Such a tragic loss felt by so many people.”

Brott was the conductor and artistic director of the Orchester classique de Montréal (OCM), which confirmed his death in a statement issued after the crash.

In a eulogy, OMC Executive Director Taras Kulish spoke of Brott’s passion for the arts and his efforts to bring classical music back to the city of Hamilton through the Brott Music Festival.

“Boris never stopped innovating and creating… He really was a kid at heart with an infinite source of energy,” said Kulish.

Tributes continued to pour in after the beloved conductor’s untimely death, including those of The Royal Conservatory, former Prime Minister Kim Campbell, NDP leader Andrea Horwath, actor Eugene Levy and the Hamilton-based band, the Arkells.

Brott, an Officer of the Order of Canada and a Member of the Order of Ontario, had recently staged online concerts amid the COVID-19 pandemic, when public health blocked nearly all venues where classical music could be enjoyed.

The Ukrainian-Canadian had also planned a benefit concert for those in Ukraine suffering from the Russian invasion.


An investigation into Tuesday’s crash is ongoing and Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has been called in after three officers and the suspect were injured during their arrest.

The driver fled after the collision, police said, but was arrested a short distance away.

Officers with the Hamilton Police Department tracked the vehicle and attempted to stop it, according to the SIU. The suspected vehicle then collided with several police vehicles, the SIU said.

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