His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, announced that Denis Brott has been appointed Member of the Order of Canada, recognized for his achievements as a cellist and pedagogue, and for his role in establishing the Canada Council of the Arts’ Musical Instrument Bank. Established in 1967 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the Order of Canada is the cornerstone of the Canadian Honours System and recognizes outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation. Renowned internationally as one of Canada’s finest performing musicians, Denis Brott is Founder, Executive and Artistic Director of the Montreal Chamber Music Festival, founded in 1995, and has been Professor at the Conservatoire de musique du Québec à Montréal since 1989.
“Being named to the Order of Canada is an honour unlike any I have had in my life,” says Denis Brott, “I am proudly Canadian and to be recognized by my own country in this way is thrilling. Music surpasses all borders and prejudices; it speaks directly to the heart and soul of all human beings. To me, it quite literally reflects the identity of what our great country stands for in the world. My life’s work has been a passion and this honour will serve to continue to motivate me to excel, with devotion, in speaking the language of music.”
Denis Brott, C.M. rose to international attention in 1973 when he won 2nd Prize in the Munich International Cello Competition. Mentored by some of the world’s greatest cellists, such as Leonard Rose at the Juilliard School, Janos Starker at Indiana University, and Gregor Piatigorsky at the University of Southern California, Mr. Brott’s concert tours have since taken him to prestigious venues and festivals on four continents. A devoted chamber musician, Brott spent eight years in the Orford String Quartet, during which time he made 25 recordings, earning two Juno Awards (1985, 1987) for Best Chamber Ensemble Classical Recording, and the Grand Prix du Disque (1988) for the complete Beethoven string quartets. He has also appeared as guest with ensembles including the Guarneri, Emerson, Tokyo and Fine Arts String Quartets. His numerous solo recordings include Brahms’ Sonatas for cello and piano, and Homage to Piatigorsky, which received this accolade from Yo-Yo Ma: “His playing throughout is exemplary, full of the rich sound and technical wizardry the master exemplified. I think Piatigorsky would be proud.”
Denis Brott is a passionate pedagogue. He has been professor of cello and chamber music at the North Carolina School of the Arts, the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, the University of Toronto Faculty of Music, and the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California. He has been in residence at Toronto Summer Music, the Banff Centre for the Arts, Marlboro Music Festival, the Sitka Summer Music Festival, and held the cello chair at the Musicorda Chamber Music Institute and Festival. Mr. Brott has been professor of cello and chamber music at the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal since 1989.
In 1985, Denis Brott played a pivotal role in the creation of the Canada Council for the Arts’ Musical Instrument Bank which gave him a magnificent 1706 David Tecchler cello for his lifetime use. Every three years, talented Canadian classical musicians take part in an intense competition for the chance to borrow fine stringed instruments from the Musical Instrument Bank, which includes 22 magnificent instruments worth a total of over $41 million. These historically-significant violins, cellos and bows, ranging in age from the late 1600s to the early 1900s, were crafted by the world’s finest luthiers such as Stradivari, Guarneri, and Gagliano. Mr. Brott continues to sit on the Musical Instrument Bank Advisory Board.
Since 1995, when Denis Brott presented the Festival’s inaugural concert at the Chalet atop Mount Royal, the Montreal Chamber Music Festival has presented over 200 concerts to an audience of more than 100,000. Through superior and innovative programming – making chamber music accessible to as broad a public as possible – Brott has always striven to present the full cultural richness and heritage of Montreal to music lovers within and beyond the city’s borders. In concerts ranging from classical to jazz to klezmer, the Festival has hosted innumerable internationally renowned artists, including Gary Graffman, Marc-André Hamelin, Jean-Philippe Collard, Colin Carr, André Laplante, James Ehnes, the Canadian Brass, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and the Emerson, Guarneri, Tokyo, and Fine Arts Quartets, to name only a few. Brott has also encouraged and presented relatively unknown young Canadian musicians who have since gone on to world renown, including pianist Jan Lisiecki, violinist Jonathan Crow (Toronto Symphony Orchestra concertmaster), as well as the winners of the Canada Council Musical Instrument Bank competition. The Festival’s 20th anniversary season will include 14 superb concerts at a range of top venues in the city. (Full program to be announced in January 2015.)
Additional recent honours for Denis Brott include the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of his contribution to Canada (2012), and the Montreal Destination Centre-Ville “Event of the Year” award in 2014, for the Montreal Chamber Music Festival. The Order of Canada insignia will be presented to this year’s appointees at a later date at Rideau Hall, in Ottawa.
Story by Shira Gilbert