Yehonatan Berick, 1968-2020

Posted on Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Photo of Yehonatan Berick

Yehonatan Berick, 1968-2020

On October 31, 2020, the music world lost a truly gifted violinist and beloved pedagogue.

Born in Israel on August 30, 1968, Yehonatan was predeceased by his father Zvi Berick and his brother Dr. David (Dedi) Berick, and is lovingly remembered by his mother Rachel Berick, his children Léonore Ahava Berick and Émile Zvi Francoeur Berick, his partner Rachel Mercer and her family, parents Bill and Carlene, and sister Akemi, his sister Omna Berick-Aharony (Odi Aharony), his sister-in-law Ronit Berick and his nieces and nephews Rotem, Elul, Ofer and Noam Aharony, and Noa, Hagar and Aviyam Berick.  He is also mourned by his former wife Élizabeth Francoeur (Michael Nellis), her parents Micheline Grondin and Dr. Jacques Francoeur, her siblings Marie-Claude Francoeur (William Nutt), Maude Francoeur (David Veilleux) and Jean-Hugues Francoeur (Annie Girouard) and their children Frédérique and Clara Veilleux, Gabrielle and Catherine Francoeur.

Originally from Holon, the young Yehonatan was noticed by Isaac Stern and studied with Ilona Feher, later working with Henry Meyer, Kurt Sassmanshauss, and Dorothy DeLay.  Prizewinner at the 1993 Naumburg competition and the 1996-97 Prix Opus, he established himself as a teacher, soloist, and chamber musician of distinction, performing in concert series throughout North America, Europe, and Israel. He completed his studies in Tel Aviv and Cincinnati before moving to Canada in the mid-1990s. Before moving to Ottawa, he taught at the University of Michigan, McGill University, the Eastman School of Music, and the University of Toronto.

Affectionately known to many as Big Y, he was adored for his brilliant mind, sense of humour, generous spirit, and passion for music. Being in his presence ensured the following: laughter, sweet treats, hugs, insight, candor, and kindness.  And if you were lucky enough to find him with a fiddle and bow in his large, yet extraordinarily agile hands, there would be music and magic. 

A family funeral took place in Israel on Friday, November 6 and a live-streamed tribute is being planned by the University of Ottawa in collaboration with the Embassy of Israel. The family requests that donations be made in Yehonatan’s name to the School of Music Scholarship Fund.

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