Wednesday, August 10, 2022

City Council Approves Renaming Of Venue To Honour Boris Brott

In a motion which passed unanimously yesterday, Hamilton City Council voted to rename the Great Hall in the FirstOntario Concert Hall to honour late conductor Boris Brott

The conductor was killed near his downtown home in April following a hit-and-run. 

The Great Hall is one of two performance spaces at FirstOntario Concert Hall. The Hall is Hamilton’s largest performing space, featuring a capacity of over two thousand seats. Both the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Brott Music Festival– both of which were led by the late conductor at different points in his career- call the space home. 

In a motion made by Mayor Fred Eisenburger, it was noted that the FirstOntario Credit Union, the current holder of naming rights for the Great Hall was “not only very much in support of this initiative, but have been instrumental in working with all parties to bring this to fruition.” With the motion passed, the exterior signage of the building will now read “The Great Hall – Boris Brott.”

The motion was passed just as young performers in training- members of the Brott Festival’s National Academy Orchestra descended upon Hamilton this week to begin a summer of training opportunities.

A commemorative plaque will be added to the Great Hall, with the cost shared by the FirstOntario Credit Union, the Oak View Group (who is overseeing the renovation of the property in and around the building) and the Hamilton Urban Precinct Entertainment Group (HUPEG), which has been approved to take over management of the Concert Hall.  

HUPEG has big plans for the area, and it’s to be seen whether the Great Hall that Boris Brott performed in will be recognizable in a few years. Over twelve million dollars of upgrades are planned for the current concert hall and Hamilton Convention Centre. An additional contribution is being made to the Art Gallery of Hamilton– just across the lane.

A further five-hundred million dollar renovation is planned for the FirstOntario Centre Arena beginning in Spring 2023. The renovations are primarily to enhance the patron experience with the addition of restaurants, widened concourses and lounges while maintaining the arena’s almost twenty-thousand seat capacity. The HUPEG will also have control over a York Boulevard parkade, a Vine Street parking lot, and a parcel of land at York and Caroline Street North. In exchange for redeveloping these properties, HUPEG will be exempt from taxes on the entertainment venues for certain uses. 

The majority of the agreement between the HUPEG and the City of Hamilton remain confidential. What is known is that HUPEG will have a forty-nine year agreement, with no monetary contribution from the city, and with the city retaining ownership of the facilities. 

The dedication of the Great Hall was the latest gesture to recognize the contributions of the late maestro. Brott was also acknowledged earlier this month as the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Burlington Performing Arts Centre in recognition of his many contributions to enriching the Hamilton and Burlington area through music. The Collingwood Music Festival will honour Brott at their July 9 opening concert, while Brott’s namesake festival in Hamilton has dedicated their June 30 opening concert- at the newly named Great Hall- to his memory.

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