Boris Brott, the artistic director of the Orchester classique de Montréal, died Tuesday after a hit-and-run in Hamilton that led to the arrest of the driver a short time later and three officers were injured.

Brott, a renowned conductor and motivational speaker with deep ties to Hamilton, was 78 years old.

“It is with the greatest sadness that we announce the sudden and tragic passing of Canada’s one and only musical genius and artistic visionary Boris Brott,” the Brott Music Festival said in an afternoon statement on its Instagram account.

The director founded the festival and his wife, Ardyth, is its executive director.

“He will be deeply missed by all who appreciated his unsurpassed talent and those who loved him…As family and staff process this unthinkable news, we ask for privacy at this time,” the festival statement said.

SIU investigating

Hamilton police reported a hit-and-run incident early Tuesday in the city’s Durand neighborhood, later saying a 78-year-old man had died. They did not confirm Brott’s identity, but told the CBC there were no other fatal pedestrian collisions in the city on Tuesday.

Police said someone called 911 at 10 a.m. ET about a vehicle driving on the wrong side of the road on Hamilton Mountain.

“Dispatchers have issued an all-car transmission requesting patrol officers to keep an eye out for the vehicle,” a police news release said.

At approximately 10:20 am, a man was struck on Park Street South at Markland Street.

Police said he was taken to hospital but later died.

A police chase following the incident has prompted an investigation by Ontario’s police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), after three officers and the driver were injured.

Police said the driver left the scene but was arrested on Elmwood Avenue near Garth Street.

The three officers and the defendant were taken to the hospital, according to police.

The Hamilton Police Reconstruction Unit is investigating the collision and police were using a drone at the scene.

CBC Hamilton is awaiting further details from police and the SIU.

the tributes arrive

Reaction and tributes to Brott’s death began pouring in shortly after news of his death.

“I am so sorry to hear of the tragic passing of Boris Brott. He was a great musical ambassador for the City of Hamilton. A great loss,” Hamilton-based band Junior Boys wrote on Twitter.

“Absolutely shocked and saddened by the news of Boris Brott’s passing. His was a Canadian treasure and his visionary musical talent made all Hamiltonians proud,” said Sandy Shaw, Provincial Member of Parliament for Hamilton.

The Brott Music Festival opened in 1988 in Hamilton. He said Brott developed six Canadian orchestras, including the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, where he was music director for 23 years. In 1987, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.

The Montreal Classical Orchestra released a statement saying it was “shocked and incredulous.”

“Boris Brott was the heart and soul of the Montreal Classical Orchestra, an extraordinary ambassador of classical music, recognized beyond our borders, a mentor to countless young musicians, and a dear friend to many, including us. His Sudden death leaves a deep void in the music community and a great sadness in our hearts,” the statement read.

Tuesday’s hit-and-run marks Hamilton’s seventh crash to lead to a pedestrian death this year.

This incident is among a series of collisions that have killed seniors.

Police say anyone who saw Tuesday’s incident or has video can contact Detective-Sgt. Catherine Lockley at 905-546-3833.

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