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 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).
Finnish Ambassador 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 Hämeenniemi and Olli Mustonen.
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”.
Text: Harry S. Nimmo, Honorary Consul for Finland in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (SCO)
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