Richard Bradshaw died of a heart attack Wednesday evening at Pearson International Airport. The force behind Toronto's opera world and the general director of the Canadian Opera Company infused the city with brilliant music for over the past 30 years.
Bradshaw conducted over 60 operas during his eighteen years with Canadian Opera Company (COC). The city has lost an advocate for the arts.
According to the Globe and Mail, Bradshaw had a heart attack while waiting to collect his luggage at Pearson International Airport on Wednesday. He was returning from a holiday with his wife Diana.
David Ferguson, president of the COC board, told CBC News: In our sorrow, we pay tribute to the inspiration and leadership he played in the cultural landscape of his adopted country. We are grieving and we will miss him terribly.
Bradshaw worked with the city for 30 years to bring an opera house to Toronto. Finally in June of 2006 his dream was realized when the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts opened.
Raised in England moved to San Francisco in 1977 after establishing himself with the British opera world. Canada was his third professional home when he was hired as the chief conductor of the COC in 1989. Nine years later he became the general director of the Company.
"His vision was of making the COC into a world-class company and he couldn't do that without an opera house," said Wayne Gooding, editor of Opera Canada, who has followed Bradshaw's career.
"He will be remembered as a builder — not just of the building — but of the company itself," he said.
"Over the past 17 years or so since he's been in Canada, he's been a champion of the arts — not just the opera — all the arts," he said.
Born in Rugby, England in 1944 Bradshaw pursued an English degree at London University in 1965. A student of Adrian Boult, he studied privately to become a conductor. He had a fellowship with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra under the supervision of Charles Groves.
In San Francisco he worked with the Glyndebourne Festival and as the resident conductor at San Francisco Opera until 1989.
In 1988 he was a guest conductor with the COC. The next year he took of the role of chief conductor and head of music.
"His favourite instrument was the human voice and a lot of singers across the country and across the world benefited from his casting and his direction," said Canadian opera singer Measha Brueggergosman.
"There are few like him. There are not that many really great opera conductors left."
Bradshaw received the Order of Ontario for his tireless work for the arts in Toronto.
He leaves wife Diana, daughter Jenny and son James.
A funeral is scheduled for Tuesday in Toronto.