FINLAND HONOURS ROY McEWAN-BROWN

Left to right: Donald & Louise MacDonald, Ambassador of Finland Päivi Luostarinen, Roy & Svend McEwan-Brown, Carol Nimmo and Harry Nimmo (Honorary Consulate, Edinburgh)

Left to right: Donald & Louise MacDonald, Ambassador Päivi Luostarinen, Roy & Svend McEwan-Brown, Carol and Harry Nimmo (Honorary Consulate, Edinburgh).

The Award of Knight, 1st Class of the Order of the Lion of Finland is the latest addition to a series of honours for former long-serving Chief Executive of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Roy McEwan-Brown. As well as an OBE in 2011, he also received a Special Award at the annual Association of British Orchestras (ABO / Rhinegold Awards) earlier this year.

At a ceremony at The Finnish Ambassador’s Residence, London, Roy McEwan-Brown received the Award of Knight 1st Class of the Order of the Lion of Finland from Her Excellency Päivi Luostarinen, Ambassador of Finland to the United Kingdom. He received this honour for services in fostering and promoting Finnish Composers, Artists and Conductors over several decades in his roles as Chief Executive of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (1993-2016) and earlier as Director of the MacRobert Arts Centre, University of Stirling (1981-1991).

Her Excellency Päivi Luostarinen commented: “This sustained and vigorous support of Finnish music by Roy McEwan-Brown has not gone unnoticed by the Joint Board of the Order of the Lion of Finland, which was established in 1942 for Merit and is open to both Finnish citizens and nationals of other countries. The President of Finland, Sauli Niinistö, has graciously authorised the award to Roy McEwan-Brown. I am personally delighted to be able to make this award which represents strong evidence of cultural and artistic friendship between Finland and Scotland in this, the 100th year since Finnish Independence”.

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra tours the length and breadth of Scotland, as well as internationally, and during the decade beginning 1996 works by the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius were performed no fewer than 75 times. Roy McEwan-Brown was also behind commissioning new works by Finnish composers including Lotta Wennäkoski. Her work Verdigris was commissioned to celebrate the 150th birthday of Jean Sibelius, and received its World Premiere at the Younger Hall, St Andrews, on 28 October 2015. Performances in Edinburgh and Glasgow followed shortly after. Other Finnish composers that Roy commissioned include Einojuhani Rautavaara and Jukka Tiensuu. He programmed the UK premieres of works by Kalevi Aho, Magnus Lindberg, Eero Hämmeeniemi and Olli Mustonen.

The SCO also performed the UK premiere of two works by Jean Sibelius - The Countess’s Portrait and The Maiden in the Tower Suite, which was orchestrated by Tuomas Hannikainen.

A future Scottish Premiere which Roy McEwan-Brown programmed prior to his retirement is Einojuhani Rautavaara’s Percussion Concerto ‘Incantations’. It will be conducted by the composer’s compatriot John Storgårds, and performed by the much-loved Scot Colin Currie. Performances are in Dumfries, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness on the 28th February to 3rd March 2018.

As well as composers, Roy McEwan-Brown was also a conspicuous supporter of leading Finnish conductors and musicians. Over the years those he invited to the SCO included Jukka Pekka Saraste, Paavo Berglund, Okko Kamu, Juho Pohjonen, and Pekka Kuusisto.

There is a particularly strong ongoing relationship with leading Finnish conductor and violinist John Storgårds. He will be conducting the SCO in Beethoven’s Missa solemnis at the Usher Hall on 27th April 2017 and in Glasgow City Halls on the 28th April 2017.

On receipt of the award, Roy McEwan-Brown said: “Having admired Finland since I discovered some of its music in my teens, this recognition comes as a wonderful surprise and a great honour. As a small country which has invested so much in culture and creative talent – through music, architecture, literature, art and design – Finland is an inspiration to us all and it has been a great privilege to help celebrate its achievements throughout my career, both at the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and before at the University of Stirling”.

In his time as Director of the MacRobert Arts Centre, Stirling University:

Roy mounted a yearlong Nordic Season of music, dance and visual arts from all the Nordic countries. Finnish connections included: 

  • Composers Madetoja, Klami, Kokkonen and Sibelius
  • Visiting artists Leif Segerstam, Jukka Pekka Saraste and Arto Noras
  • An exhibition of the sketches of Akseli Gallen Kallela, opened by the Finnish Ambassador of the time. 

 In his time as Chief Executive of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra:

Roy commissioned the following works from Finnish composers:

Einojuhani Rautavaara - Autumn Gardens. This received its world premiere at the BBC Proms and was performed ten times throughout Scotland.

Jukka Tiensuu – Missa. A Clarinet Concerto premiered in 2007.

Lotta Wennäkoski – Vedrigris. Commissioned to mark the 150th birthday of Sibelius and premiered in 2015.

UK Premieres in the 1990s included works by Kalevi Aho, Magnus Lindberg, Eero Hammeeniemi, Einojuhani Rautavaara and Olli Mustonen.

Two works by Jean Sibelius received their UK Premieres - The Countess’s Portrait and The Maiden in the Tower Suite (Orchestrated by Tuomas Hannikainen)

Finnish Musicians who Roy invited to collaborate with the SCO included:

Jukka Pekka Saraste, Paavo Berglund, John Storgårds, Okko Kamu, Tuomas Hannikainen, Pekka Kuusisto, Juho Pohjonen, Kari Krikku, Mikku Franck, Hannu Lintu, Susanna Mälkki  and Sakari Oramo.