The Honens’ Andrew Raeburn: July 22 1933 – August 24 2010 An impressario exits

Most of the readers who look at MUSICAlive! on a regular basis are unlikely to know who Andrew Raeburn was, or why he should merit the headline of this space. But anyone who was in contact with him, specifically as I was while doing work for the Esther Honens International Piano Competition (now called simply ‘the Honens) knows that his personality and humanity shone brightly over the development and successes of the Honens Competition.

His passing in 2010 presented an opportunity to appreciate the importance of connection and respect which one can offer others in the course of doing great things.

Portrait of distinguished, senior, smiling man with glasses
Andrew Raeburn was always warm, friendly, and musical, and his smile was usually larger than this. Image by Chad Johnston.

The notice that was released from the Honens Competition said many of the important details concisely:

“Born in London, Andrew studied violin, piano and organ from an early age. He was awarded a Master’s degree in History from King’s College, Cambridge (and was) conductor of two chamber choirs. His varied professional life in the arts spanned more than five decades, and included management and artistic administration with orchestras, . . . the production of nearly 100 classical recordings as music director of two record companies (and) the artistic direction of two international piano competitions (the Van Cliburn and the Honens).”

Clearly, Andrew loved music. And if his pedigree were not known to you (as it wasn’t to me when I met him in 1996 as a Competition volunteer), it became clear within moments at any event which required his presence. Andrew’s courteous, genial nature completely shattered the stereotype of aloof detachment which clings to the classical music field: as long as you loved music, you were all right by him.

“He was also a consultant to orchestras, dance companies, festivals, music competitions, other non- profit organizations and government funding agencies, and was an occasional performer, competition juror, writer, lecturer and broadcaster.”

Mr. Raeburn received . . . an Honorary Diploma in Musical Performance from Mount Royal University (then still a college), a special achievement award for exceptional accomplishment in arts management, an honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Calgary, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the World Federation of International Music Competitions.

And with all this behind him, Andrew seemed to treat every person he met as though they had the same credentials as he, deserving of respect and consideration at the highest level.

As Jessica Duchen said in her UK-based Standpoint magazine blog:

“He and his late brother, Christopher Raeburn, were two of the most cultured, humane, canny, knowledgeable, Renaissance men in the music business, and the classical globe is much the poorer without them.”

It was a pleasure to meet you Andrew. Bon Voyage.

Posted by Carey Rutherford

Author: Carey Rutherford

Swallowed by the mutual loves of words and music (but far too chicken-shit to perform them with a band), Carey’s writing career started slowly as a freelance writer in 2003, starved him nearly to personal bankruptcy until 2008, and changed directions while writing for FastForward, Beacon Calgary, GayCalgary, and Examiner magazines. With the death of many old-school periodicals, and the explosion of musical diversity in Calgary, the modern approach to writing about live music performance in the Calgary region presented uncluttered landscapes for the focussed passion that Carey’s conversations with musicians, drag queens, festival producers and small animals has uncapped. He was moulded by the brilliance of paper-based periodicals old and new (Life, rolling Stone, Swerve! and Adbusters etc.), and sees the info-verse as needing creative, empathetic, but clear-eyed Agents to communicate these performances.