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Niall Brown, cello

Updated: Sep 30, 2023


Né à Aberdeen en Écosse, Niall Brown commence l’apprentissage du violoncelle à 6 ans. Ce n’est que peu de temps après que Yehudi Menuhin découvre son talent exceptionnel et l’invite à étudier dans son école près de Londres. Niall Brown y étudie alors avec des violoncellistes de renom tels Maurice Gendron et William Pleeth. Poursuivant ses études auprès de Ralph Kirshbaum et Radu Aldulescu, Niall Brown remporte plusieurs concours de violoncelle et de musique de chambre aux Pays-Bas ainsi qu’au Royaume-Uni. La passion qu’éprouve Niall Brown pour la musique de chambre le mène à se produire aux côtés de grands artistes tels Yehudi Menuhin, János Starker, Bruno Giuranna, Alberto Lysy, Stephen Kovacevitch, Michel Dalberto et Edith Fischer en Europe, Asie, États-Unis et en Amérique du Sud. Il est également invité aux Menuhin Festival Gstaad en Suisse, Haydn Festival Eisenstadt en Autriche, Singapore Chamber Music Festival, à la Semaine Internationale de Piano en Suisse, aux Aboyne and Deeside Festival en Écosse et au Festival Lysy de Buenos Aires en Argentine. Pendant 8 ans, Niall Brown a joué au sein du prestigieux Australian String Quartet, s’illustrant lors de tournées en Australie, Asie et en Europe. Il a également été violoncelliste solo et soliste invité auprès de la Camerata Bern, le Scottish Ensemble, la Camerata Lysy Gstaad, et l’Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, sous la direction de Jesús Lopez Cobos, Milan Horvat, Alberto Lysy et Thomas Füri. Voici près de 20 ans que Niall Brown se produit en concert aux côtés de la pianiste Isabelle Trüb. La presse a loué leur interprétation d’une grande partie du répertoire pour violoncelle et piano, que ce soit en Europe, en Australie ou en Amérique du Sud. Le duo a enregistré plusieurs disques et de nombreuses stations de radio diffusent leurs concerts en direct et en différé. Niall Brown a occupé les postes de professeur de musique de chambre et de violoncelle à l’International Menuhin Music Academy, en Suisse, et à l’University of Adelaide, en Australie; il dispense régulièrement un cours d’été pour violoncellistes en Écosse et en Suisse. Il est également professeur invité à l’Académie Internationale Yehudi Menuhin, à Gstaad en Suisse. Occupant le poste de 2e violoncelle solo au sein de l’Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg depuis 2006, il donne, en parallèle, de nombreux concerts, durant lesquels il interprète par exemple les Suites pour violoncelle seul de Bach se produit aussi dans des récitals avec piano ou avec divers ensembles de musique de chambre, tel le Quatuor Dohnányi (Suisse). Niall Brown a fondé le festival Automne Musical d’Ollon en Suisse. (Photo: Sébastien Grébille)


Demandez aux musiciens:


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!

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