Bjørn Daniel Keyn

1925 -

Bjørn Keyn, a talented organist, violinist, choral and orchestral conductor, has held several music positions in Seventh-day Adventist schools and churches in Europe and the United States during a career that spanned 37 years. He has served as a conductor of more than fifty choirs and been primary conductor for seven symphony orchestras in addition to numerous orchestras for special occasions such as music festivals, seminars, congresses, and the performance of significant choral works.

Keyn was born in Oslo, Norway, one of five children born to Gerhard and Aslaug Skilbrigt Keyn. Their home was filled with singing and the sound of musical instruments during their childhood years, and although his parents were untrained natural musicians, they gave their children opportunities for formal music study.

Bjørn began serious music lessons on violin and organ at the age of twelve and then studied at the Music Conservatory of Oslo, where he completed professional diplomas in organ, conducting, and voice. He started the Oslo Adventist Youth Choir in 1945, which he would conduct for nine years, and in the following year graduated from the Oslo Cathedral School.

In 1951, Keyn traveled to the United States where he attended Washington Missionary College, now Washington Adventist University, and also served as the choir director of the Silver Springs, Maryland, Seventh-day Adventist Church. He then attended Emmanuel Missionary College, now Andrews University, completing a B.A. in music in 1953. Following graduation he taught at San Fernando Valley Academy in California and conducted the choir at the North Hollywood SDA church.

In 1955 he returned to Norway, where he spent three years as principal of the Oslo SDA Church School and again conducted the OAYC. In 1958, he was invited to direct the choir at Newbold College in England, a position he would hold for the next five years. While there, he was certified as a Fellow of Trinity College London (FTCL).

While at NMC, Keyn toured with the Newbold Chorale in Great Britain, where the choirís singing and his violin playing were received enthusiastically. On a six-day tour in Northern England in 1960, they traveled to and performed in Birmingham, Nottingham, Manchester, Lancashire, and Yorkshire. The end of the tour coincided with Easter weekend, and two of the numbers, Christ the Lord is Risen Today, Hallelujah! and the "Hallelujah" chorus from the Messiah, inspired both choir members and listeners.

In 1961 the chorale went on its first tour in foreign countries, to Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, where music critics in the media praised it highly. The most satisfying experience for him during his time at NC was when the college choirs performed Mendelssohnís oratorio Elijah under his direction at the New Gallery Center on Regent Street in London.

In 1966, Keyn was invited to serve as Music Consultant for the Swedish Union of SDA. During this time he established The Scandinavian Summer School of Music and a recording company called Sanctus Records. In Stockholm he had the privilege of studying orchestral conducting with the renowned maestro Herbert Blomstedt at the Swedish Royal College of Music.

Keyn then returned to the U.S. and taught music at Andrews University Academy and then served as an associate professor of church music at the university. His work also included the conducting six choirs on the university campus. In 1967 he moved to Southern California to pursue a doctorate at the University of Southern California. In his first year there, he taught music at San Fernando Academy and served as minister of music at the Glendale SDA church.

In 1969, he accepted a position at Loma Linda University, Riverside Campus, now La Sierra University, as associate professor in charge of the choral department and the university orchestra and as a teacher of conducting and church music. In 1971 and 1972, the University Chamber Singers, conducted by Keyn, a string orchestra led by Alfred Walters, and the University Brass Ensemble directed by Don Duncan, joined in two European tours giving concerts in Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Norway.

During these tours, the groups served as the core of a Scandinavian Summer School of Music, held in 1971 at Malmo, Sweden, and in 1972 at Vejlefjord College, Denmark. When the idea and schedule for these tours were presented by Keyn to professor Vernon Koenig, then director of the Loma Linda University Summer Session, Koenig supported and administered the program.

Keyn also presented another idea along with detailed plans to Koenig, that of an international workshop for orchestra conductors, with Blomstedt to serve as the clinician. Again Dr. Koenig proved supportive and the International Institute of Orchestral Conducting was started, a popular program that continued for fifteen years.

In 1978 Keyn was chosen from among sixteen applicants to serve as Director of Music (Music Chief) for the city of Aalesund, Norway, and conductor of its Symphony Orchestra. Following this, he accepted the position of Principal of the Klepp Community School of Music, in the neighborhood of Sandnes.

In the summer of 1984 Keyn was asked to conduct a seminar in piano technology at Spicer Memorial College, Puna, India. Together with students from several parts of India, one from Surinam, and one from Kenya, he oversaw the restoration of all of the music department's pianos to optimum condition. He returned to California in 1988, where he taught music at Fairview Junior Academy and became the artistic director of the University of Redlands Community School of Music under its director Robert Walters.

Following retirement Keyn returned to Norway, where he started the Adventist Orchestra, a forty-piece ensemble, in 1993. In 1998, a group of Adventist musicians established SAMNOR (Seventh-day Adventist Musicians, Norway) an Adventist guild of musicians. Bjørn's younger brother, Eivind, an accomplished musician who had graduated from the Music Conservatory of Oslo and the University of Oslo and had served as the Director of Music at Newbold College, England, for ten years, provided effective leadership until his death in 2006.

During his years of leadership of Samnor, Eivind and Bjørn both conducted the Adventist Orchestra, which was renamed the Samnor Orchestra, and presented a number of Divine Music Worship Services in Norwegian churches. After Eivindís death, Bjørn became chairman of SAMNOR, with Eivindís daughter, Elbjørg Lundström, assisting as vice-charman. In 2009, she assumed leadership of SAMNOR. Keyn, who presently resides in Sandefjord, Norway, continues as conductor/arranger of the Samnor Orchestra.  

ds/2011

Information provided by Bjorn Keyn, September 2011; Articles in the Review & Herald 9 August 1956, 23; British Advent Messenger, 1958-1963; Lake Union Herald, 1965-1968; Pacific Union Recorder, 1966-1972.