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Martyn Brabbins is Music Director of the English National Opera who recently extended his contract by two seasons to 2022 (six seasons). An inspirational force in British music, Brabbins has had a busy opera career since his early days at the Kirov and more recently at La Scala, the Bayerische Staatsoper, and regularly in Lyon, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Antwerp. He is a popular figure at the BBC Proms and with most of the leading British orchestras, and regularly visits top international orchestras such as the Royal Concertgebouw, DSO Berlin and Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony. Known for his advocacy of British composers, he has also conducted hundreds of world premieres across the globe.
He was Associate Principal Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (1994-2005), Principal Guest Conductor of the Royal Flemish Philharmonic (2009-2015), Chief Conductor of the Nagoya Philharmonic (2012-2016), and Artistic Director of the Cheltenham International Festival of Music (2005‑2007). He is currently Visiting Professor at the Royal College of Music and Music Director to the Huddersfield Choral Society alongside his duties at ENO, and has for many years supported professional, student and amateur music-making at the highest level in the UK.
This season at English National Opera Brabbins conducts Salome, a staged Britten’s War Requiem, and a world premiere by Iain Bell (all new productions). He appears with the Philharmonia at the Royal Festival Hall, continues his Vaughan Williams symphonic cycle with the BBC Symphony at the Barbican and for Hyperion, and conducts the Symphony Orchestra of India on tour to London, Edinburgh and Cardiff. He conducts Macmillan’s trombone concerto and his 4th symphony with the BBC Philharmonic at Bridgewater Hall (and for Hyperion), a Fujikura premiere in Nagoya, and Turnage’s new percussion concerto with the BBC Scottish Symphony, with whom he returns to the Edinburgh Festival.
Brabbins’ extensive discography ranges from Romantic to contemporary repertoire, with over 50 recordings for Hyperion Records alone, notably of Elgar, Walton and Tippett. He won the Gramophone Award for Birtwistle’s Mask of Orpheus with the BBC Symphony (NMC), the Cannes Opera Award for Korngold’s Die Kathrin with the BBC Concert Orchestra (CPO), and the Grand Prix du Disque for his recording of Jonathan Harvey’s Wagner Dream.
He studied composition in London and conducting with Ilya Musin in Leningrad, subsequently winning first prize at the 1988 Leeds Conductors’ Competition, launching his international career.