Martyn Brabbins is Music Director of the English National Opera (ENO). He is a well-known figure at the BBC Proms, and regularly works with top international orchestras such as the Royal Concertgebouw, DSO Berlin, and Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony. He studied composition in London and conducting with Ilya Musin in Leningrad, subsequently winning first prize at the 1988 Leeds Conductors’ Competition. He makes his San Francisco Symphony debut at these performances.
Known for his advocacy of British composers, Mr. Brabbins has conducted hundreds of world premieres across the globe and recorded more than 120 albums, including prize-winning discs of operas by Korngold, Harrison Birtwistle, and Harvey. He was associate principal conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra from 1994 to 2005, principal guest conductor of the Royal Flemish Philharmonic from 2009 to 2015, chief conductor of the Nagoya Philharmonic from 2012 to 2016, and artistic director of the Cheltenham International Festival of Music from 2005 to 2007. Mr. Brabbins is currently Visiting Professor at the Royal College of Music and Music Director of the Huddersfield Choral Society alongside his duties at ENO.
To mark Mr. Brabbins’ sixtieth birthday this summer, the BBC Proms has commissioned a set of variations by fourteen living composers, mirroring Elgar’s Enigma Variations (also on the program). He will be joined by the BBC Scottish Symphony, English National Opera Chorus, and BBC Singers for the televised concert, which also includes Vaughan Williams’s Serenade to Music.
Earlier this season at ENO, Mr. Brabbins conducted Salome, a staged Britten’s War Requiem, and a world premiere of music by Iain Bell. He appeared with the Philharmonia at the Royal Festival Hall, continued his Vaughan Williams symphonic cycle with the BBC Symphony at the Barbican and for Hyperion Records, and conducted the Symphony Orchestra of India on tour to London, Edinburgh, and Cardiff, after performances of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and the Choral Fantasy at Mumbai National Centre for the Performing Arts. He conducted James MacMillan’s trombone concerto and his Fourth Symphony with the BBC Philharmonic at Bridgewater Hall (and for Hyperion), a Dai Fujikura premiere in Nagoya, and Mark-Anthony Turnage’s new percussion concerto with the BBC Scottish Symphony.
Mr. Brabbins’s extensive discography includes more than fifty recordings for Hyperion Records, notably of music by 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 Harvey’s Wagner Dream.