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What's the Power of Music? Ask Conductor Bramwell Tovey

The Philadelphia Orchestra
Bramwell Tovey is music director of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

Englishman BramwellTovey is an accomplished pianist, composer and conductor. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, he’s also upbeat about the power of music to reach people of all ages. 

Listen to Bramwell Tovey talk with Susan about why music matters, and why it's so important to expose children to the art form.

Radio script:

Susan Lewis: Bramwell Tovey says Beethoven speaks directly to kids.

Bramwell Tovey: Beethoven’s the rock star of classical composers.

SL: Music Director of the Vancouver Symphony, Tovey is also Artistic Director of the symphony’s own music school.

BT: Music has this extraordinary capability to - as Shakespeare proved in his plays - take over where words cease to function.

SL: The school, which opened in 2011 with 12 students, now has over 1,600.   

BT: Whenever I see the headline, "Classical Music in Trouble," I think it's absolute rubbish. To me, the art form has never been healthier. Sure there are financial problems.

SL: But Tovey says a strong case for music comes from stories about what music can do. Take the letter he received from a seven-year-old boy who had been through terrible trauma.

BT: He’d been in foster care, he had been abused, his parents were in prison, drugs involved....all very rough and difficult. And this boy had written about his experience visiting the Vancouver Symphony, the Orpheum in Vancouver. The letter said: 'First thing: it was the most beautiful building I’d ever seen. Second thing: it was the most wonderful music I’ve ever heard. Third thing: it was the greatest day of my life.'

SL: Tovey says that’s the power of music. It changes lives.   

Susan writes and produces stories about music and the arts. She’s host and producer of WRTI’s TIME IN online interview series, and contributes weekly intermission interviews for The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert series. She’s also been a regular host of WRTI’s Live from the Performance Studio sessions.