Roy McEwan has announced his retirement from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (SCO) in Summer 2016 after a remarkable 23 years as Chief Executive. This coincides with the end of the Orchestra’s 42nd Season and Roy’s 65th birthday. The time leading up to this will allow for the appointment of his successor to take its course, alongside his continuing leadership and direction.
Roy’s legacy with the Orchestra is distinctive and far-reaching. He has carefully nurtured the SCO’s long-lasting creative relationships with internationally renowned soloists, conductors, composers and recording companies; created high profile international touring; and sustained the development of SCO Connect’s imaginative projects in education and the community.
Under his leadership, which spans more than half the SCO’s history, the Orchestra has become one of the world’s foremost chamber orchestras, performing core classical repertoire and also commissioning and premiering an impressive portfolio of contemporary work. Many distinguished composers have written regularly for the ensemble, including Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Sally Beamish, James MacMillan and young composer Martin Suckling whose third commission for the SCO premieres next year. Roy has also negotiated the Scottish and UK premieres of numerous new works that inspire both players and audiences.
The SCO tours the nation far and wide with over 90 concerts a year – more than any of Scotland’s other music organisations - while overseas touring has been pioneering and far-reaching. As well as performing in celebrated concert halls and festivals throughout Europe, the USA and Far East, the SCO was also the first British orchestra to tour to India in 2009.
Enduring creative partnerships are at the heart of the SCO’s artistic existence: Roy has nurtured highly rewarding relationships with Sir Charles Mackerras, Joseph Swensen, Emmanuel Krivine and Principal Conductor Robin Ticciati who is just beginning his third contract period which runs to the end of the 2017/18 season. International soloists who return regularly include Piotr Anderszewski, Maria João Pires, Lly–r Williams, Christian Zacharias and Alexander Janiczek. Roy introduced the SCO Associate Artist scheme and most recently appointed mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill and composer Martin Suckling to the roster.
Stable recording relationships are also a touchstone of the SCO’s successful profile. With Mackerras the SCO produced many critically acclaimed recordings of Mozart Operas as well as a Grammy-nominated set of Brahms Symphonies on the Telarc label. The relationship with Linn has produced 25 recordings and counting, including the multi award-winning set of Mozart Symphonies with Mackerras and acclaimed recordings with Robin Ticciati of Berlioz, Schumann and Haydn. Linn also came on board with Roy’s drive to spotlight the Orchestra’s own highly talented instrumentalists with an ongoing series of CDs including Mozart Divertimenti and Weber Concertos featuring the outstanding SCO Wind Principals as soloists.
Artistic integrity and audience development are maintained by Creative Learning projects which Roy has integrated into the main season programme, creating vital opportunities for young people. Jonathan Dove’s Crocodiamond, based on a story by Anthony Horowitz, is this season’s highlight for families and young children. Over the last season the SCO reached more than 9000 young people through different projects including those for babies and toddlers, primary school children, a fusion band for teenagers and workshops for secondary school pupils studying music.
Roy McEwan comments, “My decision to step down has been a while in the planning. All the great things the Orchestra has achieved have been team efforts and I have had the privilege of working with many very remarkable musicians and staff members, to whom I am extremely grateful for their support. They have shown an extraordinary level of professional dedication to what is now a great orchestra. My appreciation too to the many board members over the years who have shown confidence in my work and that of our administrative team. I am confident that the Orchestra is in safe hands with our Chairman, Colin Buchan, and with the continued involvement of our Life President, Donald MacDonald, with whom I have enjoyed a long professional partnership and friendship. Whatever the challenges of the next few years, the SCO couldn’t be in a better position to confront them.
“I hope to continue to contribute to the cultural and public life of Scotland, perhaps at a more relaxed pace than the last 23 hectic, but wonderful, years.”
SCO Chairman Colin Buchan comments: “Roy’s contribution has been remarkable. He leaves the SCO in great shape so I anticipate the vacant position his retirement creates will be a highly attractive prospect. We will all miss him, but I hope he enjoys his retirement.”
Scottish Parliament’s Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop said: “Throughout his career, Roy McEwan OBE has made a considerable contribution to the developments of the arts in Scotland, particularly through his work with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Twice, under Roy’s guidance, the SCO was awarded the Bank of Scotland Archangel in recognition of their sustained quality contribution to the Edinburgh Festival.
“The SCO is leading the way in music education with unique projects and workshops for children and adults. It has also attracted interest and invitations from overseas. I’d like to thank Roy for showing such dedication and passion to the arts and wish him well in the future.”
Life President Donald MacDonald comments “Roy has played a crucial role in establishing the SCO as one of the finest chamber orchestras in the world. Over his years at the helm, he has shown great skill in successfully steering the Orchestra through many challenging periods for arts funding and ensured continual financial stability and sustainability. The way he cares for the Orchestra, staff and for the arts generally in Scotland is something that I admire. He has been a great colleague and will remain a very good friend.”