Internationally acclaimed baritone Russell Braun has received the highest designation conferred by The Royal Conservatory of Music — on November 26, 2017 he was named an Honorary Fellow of the organization. Braun accepted the Honorary Fellowship in Koerner Hall at the 2017 Ontario and Québec Convocation and Gold Medals Ceremony.
Braun received the honour in recognition of his many achievements as a performing artist. He has sung with many of the world’s leading opera companies and symphony orchestras and has won multiple JUNO Awards for his critically lauded recordings.
“Canada is fortunate to have an artist of his calibre representing our nation,” remarked Conservatory President Dr. Peter Simon during his tribute to the celebrated singer. Dr. Simon also expressed pride in Braun's status as a Royal Conservatory alumnus, declaring to him that "we are very proud to have you as a representative of our organization.”
Being named an Honorary Fellow of The Royal Conservatory holds great significance to Braun because of the importance The Royal Conservatory has played in his life since moving from Germany to Canada as a teenager. “I think before [my family] had found a house to live in we had found teachers at The Royal Conservatory of Music to study with,” he recalled during his moving acceptance speech.
“In Germany there is not really an institution like The Royal Conservatory of Music,” Braun added. “It’s such a unique opportunity that we have not only to find the best teachers in the world, but also to gather together as music students and share ideas.”
Braun accepted the fellowship surrounded by individuals who have had a major impact on the musical development of his family. He was seated beside faculty member Marietta Orlov, who received the RCM Teacher of Distinction Award at the ceremony, and whom Braun described as the “greatest inspiration” to his wife Carolyn. Also onstage was Elaine Rusk, Vice-President of The Royal Conservatory Certificate Program and the person who taught piano to his sons for many years.
As Braun accepted the diploma, he took the opportunity to comment on the important social impact of music education. “Music is a language that takes a lot of discipline to learn, to understand, but in the end is a source of communication,” he noted. “With that communication we build communities, and that’s perhaps the most important accomplishment of music — to build communities.”
Braun called on all the young graduates and Gold Medal winners in the audience to be the community builders of the future. “I think that we all as musicians come full circle when we realize that once we’ve taken the music from our home to our practice studio, to the concert stage, we take it back into our community. For me, that’s making a full-circle journey of being a musician.”
“And I encourage you all to go to your community and share the gift.”
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