Niall Brown - Photo: Eric Chenal

Niall Brown

Cello

Niall BrownCello

Born in Aberdeen, Scotland, Niall began the cello at the age of six. Shortly afterwards, his talent was recognised by Yehudi Menuhin, who invited him to join his school near London under the guidance of the distinguished cellists Maurice Gendron and William Pleeth. Completing his studies with Ralph Kirshbaum and Radu Aldulescu at the International Menuhin Music Academy, Niall went on to be a prizewinner at both cello and chamber music competitions in Britain and Holland. His passion for chamber music has allowed him to perform alongside such artists as Yehudi Menuhin, János Starker, Bruno Giuranna, Alberto Lysy, Stephen Kovacevich, Michel Dalberto, and Edith Fischer, among others, in Europe, Asia, Australia, the United States, and South America and as a guest artist at the Menuhin Festival Switzerland, the Haydn Festival Eisenstadt (Austria), the Singapore Chamber Music Festival, the Semaine Internationale de Piano (Switzerland), the Deeside Festival Scotland, and the Festival Lysy Buenos Aires (Argentina). For a period of eight years, Niall was the cellist of the prestigious Australian String Quartet, performing all over Australia, Asia, and Europe. He has also been a member of and performed as a soloist with Camerata Bern, the Scottish Ensemble, Camerata Lysy Gstaad, and the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne with such conductors as Jesús Lopez Cobos, Milan Horvat, Alberto Lysy, and Thomas Füri. For two decades, Niall has been duo partner with the pianist Isabelle Trüb, performing a large part of the repertoire to critical acclaim around Europe, Australia, and South America. The Trüb-Brown duo has made several CDs and has been regularly broadcast on the radio in a number of countries. Niall has held the positions of professor of cello and chamber music at the International Menuhin Music Academy, Switzerland, and of cello at Adelaide University, Australia. Currently Co-Principal Cellist of the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Niall remains very active, performing regularly as the cellist of the Dohnanyi Quartet (Switzerland) and the Kreisler Quartet (Luxembourg) and with the Trüb-Brown Duo. Niall has recently been appointed cello professor at the International Menuhin Music Academy; he conducts a chamber music class at the Conservatoire du Nord in Luxembourg and gives an annual summer course as part of the Semaine Internationale de Piano in Switzerland; he is also invited to give master classes at many other music institutions in Europe and elsewhere. Niall is also founder and Artistic Director of the Automne Musical d’Ollon, a festival dedicated to all forms of music-making in Ollon, Switzerland.

Ask the musicians: 

How did you choose your instrument?

I was born into a very musical family;  my brother had already chosen the violin and as a child I was looking for something bigger:  at the young age of six, the violincello was the largest string instrument I could handle, and as you can see I stayed with it.

What is the role of the conductor and how important is he for you?

Well, to my mind, the conductor should be a good communicator and be able to act as a kind of catalyser for the members of an orchestra. That allows him to gain the musicians for his cause i.e. he will have a much easier access to them and convey his views of the interpretation of the programmed pieces in a more pleasing manner. He should also be able to share his inspiration with the orchestra and thereby raise the interest and curiosity in its members.

Who is your favorite composer and which work do you most enjoy playing?

Generally speaking, there are hardly any composers I am not  interested in. I would say that I appreciate all of them. They all have something interesting to tell. But if you ask me for my absolute favorite I do not hesitate one moment to name Schubert. I love Schubert best and he is the composer I most enjoy playing. However, if you asked me to set up a concert programme, I would certainly not forget Beethoven and Brahms.

How do you rate the OPL’s concert tours?

Concert tours are very important in my opinion for various reasons: You play the same works several times but in different places. Mostly the musicians live a continuous development as far as the interpretations are concerned, which represents an enriching and gratifying experience for them. Another no less important advantage of concert tours resides in the fact that the musicians have closer contact with each other, can meet in a more relaxed and convivial atmosphere despite the stress of travelling a lot; and they come to know each other better in a different context.

What can ensure a successful concert, and how do you feel after the performance?

Being on the same wavelength with the audience and feeling the same emotions is a great experience both for the musicians and the listeners. It is a kind of artistic communion.

What do you do in your spare time?

Apart from the fact that I love being with my family (it comes first), I practise my instrument intensely. As far as my leisure time is concerned I just enjoy Nature: walks in quiet woods or over wide meadows make me feel so humble; Nature keeps me on the ground, instills peace into me, reminds me of the essence of my existence and keeps me going.

Apart from classical music, what other styles of music do you like?

Believe it or not: Schubert does not prevent me from being a great Jazz fan.

Are there other musicians or famous people who have especially influenced you?

Absolutely: I have had the great privilege to know and work with artists like Yehudi Menuhin, Maurice Gendron (also a cellist), Alberto Lysy and Nadia Boulanger among others. They influenced my further development very strongly and gave me the necessary support for my career.

What brought you to Luxembourg and what do you particularly like here?

It was of course the enrolment in the OPL more than ten years ago that made me discover Luxembourg.  Living here I strongly appreciate the diversity of cultures and people, and nevertheless social life seems to be in a good balance: here we live in a kind of „universal microcosm“, with all the attributes of a well working democracy.

What brought you to Luxembourg and what do you particularly like about being here?

It was of course the enrolment in the OPL more than ten years ago that made me discover Luxembourg.  Living here I strongly appreciate the diversity of cultures and people, and nevertheless social life seems to be in a good balance: here we live in a kind of „universal microcosm “, with all the attributes of a well working democracy.

Do you feel the orchestra has developed since you joined it some ten years, and how do you see its future?

I think that the orchestra has enormously developed over the last years. The collaboration within the OPL and on the various managerial levels as well as the administrative responsibilities is excellent. It can be described to be as precise and reliable as a Swiss watch. There is a good chance that the orchestra may gain an even greater reputation in the international world of music.

What is your relationship with your instrument?

The cello I am playing at present is very young: it is six years old and I had it custom made by the famous luthier André Theunis in Brussels. The instrument is still developing with me, and me with it. It is like a father-child relationship: we discover each other, we get to know each other, get used to each other, we grow together, mature together, perform together and hope to end up in a unique oneness. What a wonderful experience!

Lots of thanks!