'We're just shattered': Boris Brott's family mourns the man who brought out the music in others

The family of renowned conductor Boris Brott are mourning his loss while remembering the way he brought out the music in so many.

'He loved, loved, loved when people loved music with him,' says Alex Brott

Boris Brott was the artistic director, conductor and founder of the National Academy Orchestra of Canada. He was hit and killed by a driver in Hamilton on April 5, 2022. (Brott Music Festival/Instagram)

Alex and David Brott are looking for the light.

Surrounded by loved ones at their family home in Hamilton, they can't escape the absence of their father, Boris.

"It feels very strange in there," said Alex, before temporarily slipping into the present tense. "He's such a huge personality. Just the biggest light in the room, and everyone's just trying to figure out where all the lights are right now."

Boris Brott, a renowned conductor and artistic director, was killed in a hit and run on Tuesday, less than a block from his home in Hamilton's Durand neighbourhood. He was 78.

"We're just shattered," said his daughter Alex, speaking to CBC near the home Wednesday afternoon. "There's just nothing more to say than that."

David, her brother, said he's remembering the love his father had for the family, especially their mother, Ardyth.

And, of course, his love of music. 

"He brought a lot of people together through music whether they were playing or whether they were listening," said David. "He was a passionate guy and that passion was infectious."

Alex (left) and David Brott, said they're remembering their father Boris as a lover of music who shared his passion and inspired others. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

Tributes and testaments of the lives Brott touched through his career have poured in — from politicians and celebrities to parents who shared how he nurtured a passion for music in their children.

"I think he just really loved when people were into it. I think that really just lit him up and made him feel really alive," said Alex.

"He loved, loved, loved when people loved music with him."

Memorial to 'a great Hamiltonian and a genius'

Just around the corner, Carmine Posillipo was tending to a memorial set up on the sidewalk in front of his house near where Brott was hit.

The two men didn't really know each other — at least not more than neighbours who nod hello as they walk their dogs — but the Park Street South resident said he felt the need to do something.

Carmine Posillipo tends to the memorial for Boris Brott that's growing in front of his home on Park Street South in Hamilton. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

"I wanted to honour Boris for this horrible accident and the loss of a great Hamiltonian and a genius," Posillipo said. "I think his light needs to shine for the whole world to see."

He bought a bouquet and laid it to rest near the road. By Wednesday afternoon, the memorial had grown to include more flowers, candles and a glass angel.

"It's a great tribute," Posillipo said after putting up an umbrella to shelter the memorial from the rain.

He described Brott as a humble person who had an "aura" he couldn't explain.

A memorial for conductor Boris Brott is growing on the sidewalk near the place where he was hit on April 5, 2022. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

Staring at the memorial, Posillipo said he wished he'd had a chance to know his neighbour better.

"I hope this makes the world know there are kind people out here … and there is a respect, no matter if you're best friends or just a guy walking your dog."

Big enough to share with everyone

Hamilton police are continuing to investigate the collision. Police said the driver who hit Brott fled from the scene and was arrested a short drive away. Ontario's Special Investigations Unit is investigating the arrest, which it said left the driver injured.

Amid their grief, Alex said the Brott family has been showered with sweet memories and snippets from those who met her father and shared times he encouraged them.

She said they're holding onto those moments and celebrating the man who brought out the music in so many.

"He was just so huge a person that we were able to share him with everybody," she said.

"His big, big gift was just making you feel like you could do anything you wanted."


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