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Martyn Brabbins

Music Director, English National Opera
Artistic Advisor, Huddersfield Choral Society
Visiting Professor of Conducting, Royal College of Music

ENO Orpheus series continues: Martyn Brabbins conducts The Mask of Orpheus starring Marta Fontanals-Simmons

18 October 2019

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Marta Fontanals-Simmons

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Martyn Brabbins conducts Sir Harrison Birtwistle The Mask of Orpheus at English National Opera (ENO) which also stars Marta Fontanals-Simmons as Eurydice the Woman.

> See ENO's photo gallery from the rehearsal here

Birtwistle's iconic masterpiece retells the Orpheus myth in a non-linear narrative, as the opera’s leading characters appear in three distinct guises. 

ENO's Artistic Consultant Daniel Kramer’s staging will be the first in London since its premiere at the London Coliseum over 30 years ago. 

Brabbins has conducted many Birtwistle premieres including Birtwistle's variation in Brabbins' 60th Birthday BBC Prom concert this year. He also received much acclaim for the BBC Symphony Orchestra's semi-staging of Gawain with Sir John Tomlinson at the Barbican a few years ago.

The costume designs for this production are by ‘England’s most outrageous dresser’ (Vogue) Daniel Lismore, who has created costumes for the production using 400,000 Swarovski crystals. 

Fontanals-Simmons in Vogue magazine wearing her incredible costume

The opera opens on 18 October and runs until 13 November.

The Mask of Orpheus is one of four Orpheus productions being presented by ENO in autumn 2019. Intermusica artists also star in Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld and Glass' Orphée.

> Click here to watch a video introduction to ENO's Orpheus series

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Martyn Brabbins celebrates 60th birthday with Enigma project at the BBC Proms 

13 August 2019

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Brett Dean

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BBC Proms

On 13 August Martyn Brabbins conducts a very special 60th birthday concert at the BBC Proms, who have commissioned a new work from 15 of his favourite composers to celebrate the occasion.

The new work, Pictured Within: Birthday Variations for M.C.B is directly inspired by Elgar’s variations, with a mystery composer writing the enigmatic theme. The following composers have written a variation each:

Kalevi Aho
Sally Beamish
Sir Harrison Birtwistle
Richard Blackford
Gavin Bryars
Brett Dean
Dai Fujikura
Wim Henderickx
Colin Matthews
Anthony Payne
John Pickard
David Sawer
Iris ter Schiphorst
Judith Weir

Brabbins is joined by the BBC Scottish Symphony (with whom he has been associated for over 25 years), the DNO Chorus, regular collaborators the BBC Singers, and soloists Nadine Benjamin, Idunnu Munch, William Morgan and David Ireland in a programme which features Vaughan Williams Serenade to Music, Brahms Song of Destiny and Elgar Enigma Variations which he recorded for Hyperion with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in 2016 to critical acclaim.

The concert will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and repeated on BBC Four on 8 September.

Brabbins gives the new work a second airing when he conducts it with the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra on 1 December at the Queen Elisabeth Hall in Antwerp. He was the orchestra’s Principal Guest for several years and still returns every season.

On 18 August Brabbins conducts the Halle Orchestra in Elgar The Kingdom at the Edinburgh International Festival, replacing Sir Mark Elder at short notice.

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Martyn Brabbins & Colin Currie perform James MacMillan’s Percussion Concerto No.2 with Philharmonia Orchestra

07 June 2019

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Colin Currie
Sir James MacMillan

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On 14 June Colin Currie and Martyn Brabbins join the Philharmonia Orchestra at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury. Currie will perform as soloist in James MacMillan’s Percussion Concerto No.2, which written for Currie in 2014. Currie most recently performed the concerto with New Zealand Symphony Orchestra to critical acclaim:

“Currie was electrifying with his multifarious mallets.” New Zealand Herald

Brabbins completes the programme with MacCunn The Land of the Mountain and the Flood and Elgar Enigma Variations, which he also conducts at this summer's BBC Proms on 13 August. This will be a special birthday celebration Prom featuring the world premiere of Pictured Within: Birthday Variations for M. C. B. - a new set of variations by 14 living composers including Intermusica’s Brett Dean and Sally Beamish, Sir Harrison Birtwistle and Dai Fujikura with the theme written by a distinguished mystery composer.

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Martyn Brabbins steps in to conduct the San Francisco Symphony

05 June 2019

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San Francisco Symphony

Martyn Brabbins conducts the San Francisco Symphony in three performances on 27, 29 and 30 June 2019, replacing Michael Tilson Thomas for Ravel L'enfant et les sortilèges in the Opera de Lyon production, which Brabbins premiered in Lyon in 2016. The semi-staged performance featuring dancing furniture, talking animals and fairy tale characters made real is one of the orchestra's events of the season and stars Isabel Leonard as The Child at the heart of the story.

Three weeks later, Brabbins appears at Chicago's Grant Park Music Festival on 19 July, conducting a programme of Sir James MacMillan Stomp, Beethoven Piano Concerto No.3 with soloist Stephen Hough and Vaughan Williams A London Symphony.

Later in the summer, Brabbins celebrates his 60th birthday on 13 August by conducting a unique world premiere commissioned for the occasion by the BBC Proms: Pictured Within: Birthday Variations for M. C. B., a new take on Elgar Enigma Variations, featuring a new set of variations by 14 living composers including Intermusica’s Brett Dean, Sally Beamish, Sir Harrison Birtwistle and Dai Fujikura, as well as one distinguished mystery composer to write the theme. The concert will be televised on BBC Four, airing on 8 September.

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The BBC have announced the programme for the 125th BBC Proms, launching eight weeks of music-making of the highest quality, over 80 concerts and a host of world premieres. The festival also marks 150 years since the birth of Proms founder Sir Henry Wood and the 50th anniversary of the moon landings. As ever, Intermusica is well represented at the festival, with 24 artists taking part and our International Touring team bringing two world-class orchestras to the London stage. All concerts will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and several will be televised on BBC Four. See below for full details.

James Ehnes returns to the Proms on 22 July alongside an orchestra of Royal Academy of Music and Juilliard School students, to perform Britten Violin Concerto under the baton of Edward Gardner.

Mark Wigglesworth is joined by Nicola Benedetti and the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain on 25 July. Wigglesworth conducts the London premiere of Lera Auerbach Icarus (2011) followed by Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto and Prokofiev Romeo and Juliet Suite. The concert will be televised on BBC Four on 28 July.

Simon Halsey and his numerous choirs feature throughout the Proms. On 29 July, the BBC Proms Youth Choir joins Omer Meir Wellber and the BBC Philharmonic for Haydn The Creation. Halsey then prepares the singers of the London Symphony Chorus and Orfeó Català as they join Sir Simon Rattle and the LSO to perform Walton Belshazzar’s Feast on 20 August. The concert will be shown on BBC Four on 23 August. Finally, more than 600 singers will unite for the European premiere of John Luther Adams In the Name of the Earth (2018) on 8 September.

On 2 August, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Thomas Dausgaard perform Sir James MacMillan The Confession of Isobel Gowdie, which premiered at the Proms nearly 30 years ago in 1990. The concert will be televised live on BBC Four. MacMillan is currently celebrating his 60th birthday with a year of special performances – visit to see the full MacMillan at 60 calendar.

Ben Gernon and the BBC Philharmonic (where he is Principal Guest Conductor) give two performances. On 5 August, Gernon conducts a programme of Malcolm Arnold Peterloo Overture, Rachmaninov Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini with soloist Alexander Gavrylyuk and excerpts from Tchaikovsky Swan Lake. They repeat the concert the following morning in a Relaxed Prom, in which the concert environment is adapted to better suit audience members with autistic spectrum conditions, sensory, communication or learning difficulties.

Natalya Romaniw makes her Proms debut on 8 August, joining the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and conductor Tadaaki Otaka to sing Rachmaninov The Bells.

John Wilson returns to the Proms on 9 August, conducting his John Wilson Orchestra in a concert televised live on BBC Four, celebrating the golden age of the Warner Brothers studios.

On 10 August, Lise Davidsen reunites with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia Orchestra, with whom she recently recorded her highly anticipated debut album for Decca (out 31 May). She will sing Richard Strauss Op.27 Songs, which also feature on the album. 

On 13 August, Martyn Brabbins conducts a special concert with personal significance: it features the world premiere of Pictured Within: Birthday Variations for M. C. B., a new take on Elgar Enigma Variations commissioned by the BBC to mark Brabbins’ 60th birthday. This unique work features a new set of variations by 14 living composers including Intermusica’s Brett Dean, Sally Beamish, Sir Harrison Birtwistle and Dai Fujikura – plus one distinguished mystery composer to write the theme. Brabbins also conducts Elgar’s original Variations as well as Vaughan Williams Serenade to Music and Brahms Song of Destiny, featuring the BBC Singers and English National Opera Chorus. The concert will be recorded for broadcast on BBC Four on 8 September.

Also on the 13 August, Martin James Bartlett performs in a late-night mixtape concert, exploring the fringes of Minimalism and meditative listening. Joined by 12 Ensemble, Tenebrae and director Nigel Short, Bartlett will perform the slow movement from Bach Keyboard Concerto in F minor; Chopin Nocturne in D flat major, Max Richter Vladimir’s Blues and Peteris Vasks Fruits of Silence.

Andreas Haefliger returns to the Proms on 19 August for the world premiere of a new Piano Concerto written especially for him by fellow Swiss musician Dieter Ammann. He is joined for the concert by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Sakari Oramo. This new work is co-commmissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Konzerthaus Wien, Lucerne Festival, Münchner Philharmoniker and Taipei Symphony Orchestra. 

Singers Sofia Fomina, Marta Fontanals-Simmons and Thomas Atkins appear in Glyndebourne Festival Opera’s production of Mozart The Magic Flute on 27 August. Fomina stars in the concert staging as Pamina while Fontanals-Simmons sings Second Lady and Atkins takes the roles of Second Priest and First Man in Armour.

Anthony Gregory makes his Proms debut on 29 August, singing Hugh Wood Scenes from Comus with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Andrew Davis.

Richard Egarr returns to the Proms on 30 August to conduct the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (with whom he has a long association) Handel Jeptha, part of a cycle celebrating the composer’s works. The cast features Tim Mead as Hamor and Cody Quattlebaum as Zebul.

Sir John Eliot Gardiner completes his epic five-season Berlioz series on 2 September, conducting a performance of his opera Benvenuto Cellini with his Monteverdi Choir and Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique.

Leonidas Kavakos joins Andrés Orozco-Estrada and the Vienna Philharmonic on 4 September to perform Korngold Violin Concerto.

Yuja Wang is the soloist for Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.3 with Staatskapelle Dresden and Myung-Whun Chung on 5 September.

Nora Fischer makes her Proms debut on 8 September, giving the UK premiere of Louis Andriessen The only one (2018) alongside Sakari Oramo and the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

On 10 September, Intermusica brings the Czech Philharmonic and Semyon Bychkov to the Proms. The concert features Smetana The Bartered Bride, the Letter Scene from Eugene Onegin and Shostakovich Symphony No.8.

Nicholas Collon and his Aurora Orchestra return to the Proms on 12 September presenting another eagerly anticipated major symphony from memory. This year they present Berlioz Symphonie fantastique in an immersive theatrical staging. Collon and the orchestra will give a repeat performance in a late-night Prom that same evening and BBC Four will record the first performance for broadcast on 13 September.

As the festival draws to a close, Intermusica’s International Touring team brings a second orchestra to London: on 13 September, Andrew Manze returns with his NDR Radiophilharmonie Hannover for Beethoven Night, in which Manze conducts extracts from Fidelio and Symphony No.5, as well as music by Handel and Bach.

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Martyn Brabbins is conductor and composer with the Philharmonia Orchestra

19 April 2019

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Anvil Theatre

Martyn Brabbins returns to the Philharmonia Orchestra on 3 May 2019 to conduct the symphonic premiere of a work he composed himself, Here and There for wind, brass and percussion. This is coupled with Elgar Enigma Variations and Elgar Cello Concerto with soloist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, as well as a fanfare by young composer Samantha Fernando.

The preceding day, Brabbins joins the BBC Philharmionic at Bridgewater Hall a programme of Sir James MacMillan Symphony No.4, Britten Les Illuminations and Tippett Symphony No.4, which will also be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.

Tippett's fourth symphony featured on Brabbins' latest recording in his cycle of the composer's symphonies with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, which was released in February 2019. The album which was met with great acclaim:

“Brabbins displays a hot line to Tippett’s seething imagination”
Financial Times, February 2019

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Colin Currie & Martyn Brabbins give Scottish premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage's Martland Memorial

11 April 2019

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Colin Currie

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BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

Colin Currie and Martyn Brabbins return to the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra this month to give the Scottish premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage Martland Memorial at Glasgow City Halls on 25 April 2019. They then travel to Inverness’ Eden Court Theatre on 26 April, where Currie joins the orchestra for Kurt Schwertsik Now you hear me, now you don't.

Turnage composed Martland Memorial for Currie as a musical epitaph to their late mutual friend Steve Martland. Currie gave the world premiere of the work with the Britten-Pears Orchestra in 2017 and joined Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra for the US premiere in March. The concert was streamed live - click here to watch.

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English National Opera announced their 2019/20 season on 3 April, and as ever there is a strong Intermusica presence at the house alongside Music Director Martyn Brabbins.

Alongside three revivals, the season features seven new productions, the most for five years. For the first time, four of the new productions present different versions of the same story as ENO presents four takes on the Orpheus myth. In keeping with the season’s theme of the rise of the feminine, more than half of the new productions are directed by women, with Tatjana Gürbaca, Emma Rice, Barbora Horáková and Netia Jones all helming productions.

Click here to see full details of ENO's 2019/20 season

Martyn Brabbins conducts two productions. On 18 October he opens Daniel Kramer’s production of Harrison Birtwistle The Mask of Orpheus. The production stars Marta Fontanals-Simmons as Eurydice the Woman and Susan Bickley as Eurydice the Myth and Persephone. Brabbins then returns on 26 February 2020 to conduct a revival of Anthony Minghella’s Olivier Award-winning production of Madam Butterfly, starring Natalya Romaniw in the title role. Brabbins will be assisted for the production by Adam Hickox.

Valentina Peleggi continues her Mackerras Fellowship with her first full production in the main house: a revival of Calixto Bieito’s production of Carmen from 29 January 2020, which features a cast starring David Butt Philip as Don José and Nardus Williams as Micaela. Earlier in the season she conducts three performances of Offenbach Orpheus in the Underworld on 1, 26 and 28 November. The new production from Emma Rice features Sir Willard White as Jupiter and Mary Bevan as Diana.

Geoffrey Paterson debuts on 15 November conducting a new production of Phillip Glass Orphée from Netia Jones. The cast features Anthony Gregory, who makes a return to ENO as Cégeste, and Simon Shibambu as the poet.

Alexander Joel returns to conduct Verdi Luisa Miller from 12 February 2020. This new production is directed by Barbora Horáková Joly and stars Elizabeth Llewellyn in the title role.

Susan Bickley appears in a second production when she returns in the role of Marcellina in The Marriage of Figaro from 14 March 2020, in a new production directed by Joe Hill-Gibbons.

Antony Hermus makes his debut at ENO on 28 March 2020, conducting the premiere of Tatjana Gürbaca’s new production of Dvorák Rusalka, and taking it to Theatre du Luxembourg for additional performances after the London run. David Butt Philip takes the role of the Prince, while Patricia Bardon appears as Ježibaba.

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Martyn Brabbins conducts world premiere of Iain Bell's Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel at English National Opera starring Natalya Romaniw

11 March 2019

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Natalya Romaniw

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English National Opera

Martyn Brabbins conducts the world premiere of Iain Bell Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel at English National Opera on 30 March 2019. Directed by Daniel Kramer, the story is told from a feminine perspective and provides a showcase for the doyennes of the British opera scene: Dame Josephine Barstow, Marie McLaughlin, Susan Bullock, Leslie Garrett and Intermusica’s Natalya Romaniw, who joins the cast fresh from her success as Mimi in ENO's recent production of La bohème.

In September Brabbins extended his tenure as Music Director of ENO to 2022 and Bell's new opera is his third production so far this season, following critically acclaimed productions of Britten War Requiem in November and Strauss Salome in September:

“it’s hard to imagine the music more stirringly performed, especially chorally, than by these massed forces… expertly conducted by Martyn Brabbins”
The Times, November 2018 (War Requiem)

"Martyn Brabbins conducts with great intensity, his interpretation gathering strength as it goes. The ENO Orchestra play outstandingly for him, with every shift in colour beautifully realised"
The Guardian, September 2018 (Salome)

Highlights this season for Romaniw include her highly anticipated returns to Garsington Opera as Mařenka in Smetana’s The Bartered Bride, and to Opera Holland Park to take the title role in Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta, and Mark-Anthony Turnage Testament with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Kirill Karabits.

Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel runs until 12 April. 

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Host of Intermusica artists to appear in Barbican 2019/20 classical season, including portraits for Yuja Wang and Antoine Tamestit

The Barbican has announced its 2019/20 classical season with a promise to deliver ‘a year of life-affirming musical experiences’.

Among the highlights is Yuja Wang, selected for the Barbican’s ‘Artist Spotlight’, who will perform solo and chamber repertoire across four concerts. On 18 November, Wang gives the London premiere of John Adams Piano Concerto, Must the Devil have All the Good Tunes (a work written especially for her) with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel. On 21 November, she appears alongside Andreas Ottensamer, Principal Clarinet with the Berlin Philharmonic. On 13 January, Wang performs with Gautier Capuçon in a concert featuring Chopin Introduction et polonaise brillante. The Spotlight series culminates in a solo recital on 31 March 2020: click here for complete details. 

Antoine Tamestit has been selected for the London Symphony Orchestra’s Artist Portrait and will showcase his musical inspirations across three concerts. Sticking close to this season’s theme of ‘roots and origins’, he begins with a work written for him – Jörg Widmann’s Viola Concerto – on 19 April with Daniel Harding. On 11 June, Tamestit performs Berio Voci with François-Xavier Roth and three days later, the Walton Viola Concerto (which Tamestit refers to as his ‘special concerto’) with Alan Gilbert. The Portrait also includes four chamber concerts at LSO St Luke’s in May and June – click here for more details.

Richard Egarr and the Academy of Ancient Music begin their Beethoven 250 anniversary celebrations with the composer’s complete incidental music for Goethe’s Egmont on 2 October. They will be joined by violinist Viktoria Mullova on 20 November for Bach Violin Concerto No.1 alongside orchestral and vocal works by CPE Bach, JS Bach, Haydn and Grimani. Following Egarr’s critically acclaimed performances and recording of Castello’s First Book of Sonatas in 2016, he will conduct the Second Book in a concert on 22 April.

Following lauded Mendelssohn and Schumann cycles, Sir John Eliot Gardiner returns to the London Symphony Orchestra on 20 October, this time bringing together three works that define the ‘Czech sound’ – Janáček Ballad of Blaník and Glagolitic Mass along with Dvořák The Golden Spinning Wheel. Conductor and orchestra will then perform Suk Symphony No.2, 'Asrael', and Dvořák Cello Concerto with soloist Truls Mørk on 24 October. In the space of just one week in May, Gardiner and his Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique will perform all of Beethoven Symphonies: starting with No.1, scheduled alongside Creatures of Prometheus on 11 May, the cycle will conclude on 16 May.

Also appearing in the Barbican’s 2019/20 classical season are pianists Daniil Trifonov (30 Apr 2020) and Kirill Gerstein (6 June 2020); conductors Martyn Brabbins (1 Nov 2019) and Ben Gernon (2 May 2020); singers Marta Fontanals-Simmons (3 Oct 2019), Lise Davidsen (10 Feb 2020), Mary Bevan (19 Mar 2020) and Tim Mead (10 Apr 2020); as well as Colin Currie (23 Oct 2019), Ning Feng (13 Feb 2020) and Simon Halsey, in his role as Choral Director of the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.

Intermusica will tour the Oslo Philhamonic with Vasily Petrenko in October, marking their 100th anniversary season with concerts across major cities in Europe. They will appear at the Barbican on 22 October to perform Strauss Don Juan, Shostakovich Symphony No.10 and Grieg Piano Concerto in A minor with Leif Ove Andsnes.

Click here for complete season details.

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2018 was another fantastic year for Intermusica artists, with many singled out by the world’s top publications and broadcasters in their end-of-year highlight features. Read a selection below:

Daniil Trifonov featured in a plethora of publications including The Guardian, Sunday Times, New York Times, The New Yorker, NPR, Arts Fuse, Seen & Heard and New York Classical Review. His recent release on Deutsche Grammophon, Destination Rachmaninov: Departure, with Philadelphia Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, was widely praised, as was his ‘Decades’ recital at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall, which Alex Ross of The New Yorker called “playing of unreal beauty”. A recital with mentor Sergei Babayan was highlighted in Boston Classical Review, with Trifonov deemed “among the most sensational keyboard artists of his generation” and Babayan “second-to-none in his own right.”

Also popular amongst critics was Sir John Eliot Gardiner, whose Carnegie Hall appearance with his Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, as part of Carnegie’s Berlioz Festival, drew glowing commentary. Gardiner’s Berlioz and Schumann exploration with the LSO, including an appearance at the 2018 BBC Proms, was similarly lauded (Arts Desk: “I reeled from… [Gardiner’s]… contributions … He sold instantly the ideas that wind and brass as well as upper strings… should stand”), and memorably enhanced by Antoine Tamestit’s take on Harold in Italy, which saw the soloist use theatrics to better inhabit the wandering eponymous hero (Tamestit’s Harold also came in for praise from Arts Desk, Limelight and New York Classical Review). Gardiner’s Verdi Requiem at the Concertgebouw and other venues was also mentioned by NRC and Seen & Heard.

British music champion Martyn Brabbins was singled out by several publications including The Guardian and Sunday Times, who included his releases of Tippett Symphonies 1& 2 (BBC Scottish Orchestra, Hyperion) and Ferneyhough: La Terre est un Homme (BBC Symphony Orchestra, NMC) in their recordings of the year round-ups. 

Matthew Aucoin was picked out by WQXR for his opera Second Nature (on the topic of climate change) and “[making] the [classical] tradition more alive and urgent than ever.” Aucoin’s conducting skills impressed The New York Times, who noted his “instinct for tension” when conducting Peter Sellars’ Santa Fe Opera production of Doctor Atomic.

Colin Currie Group’s release of Drumming, the first on the new Colin Currie Records label, enchanted listeners with Arts Fuse calling it “one of – no, the – greatest recording of the piece to date” and The Boston Globe terming it “an ecstatic rendition…[which]…absolutely transports.”

Andrew Manze’s Mendelssohn symphony cycle with NDR Radiophilharmonie, where he is Chief Conductor, garnered praise from Arts Fuse, as did his moving War Requiem with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and NDR Radiophilharmonie at Liverpool Cathedral and in Hannover (one of Fiona Maddox at The Guardian’s Best of 2018), which saw British and German players unite to mark 100 years since the end of World War I.

Mark Wigglesworth was roundly praised by Seen & Heard (“typically first-rate conducting”), The Stage (“an exceptional musical performance”) and Arts Desk for his House of the Dead at the Royal Opera House; while over at English National Opera, Porgy and Bess, conducted by John Wilson, was a highlight for The Stage, The Guardian and Evening Standard.

Emmanuel Krivine’s Erato recording of works by Debussy with National Orchestre de France was deemed “electrifying” by WQXR; the same work was highlighted in The Daily Mail's top classical releases.

Other notable recordings included Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s “eminently accessible” rendition of Prokofiev’s Romeo & Juliet (WQXR); Nora Fischer’s Hush – “radically unorthodox yet utterly gorgeous” (WQXR), Boris Giltburg’s Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No 2 with Royal Scottish National (Politiken); and Marek Janowksi’s “sumptuous Hindemith collection” on Pentatone (Arts Desk). Recordings by Francesco Piemontesi and Renaud Capuçon (Liszt Années de pèlerinage, Orfeo, and Bartok Violin Concertos Nos 1 & 2 with LSO, Hyperion) featured in The Sunday Times’ Classical Albums of the Year.

Lahav Shani’s new position as Chief Conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra was noted as a special moment by Seen & Heard and NRC, while Giancarlo Guerrero’s performances with Boston Symphony Orchestra (“a spectacular, kinetic reading”) and Curtis Symphony Orchestra (“at once authoritative and at the same time warmly collaborative") were noted by Arts Fuse and Seen & Heard. Mischa Maisky’s Jansen/Maisky/Argerich Trio performance at the Barbican was deemed “chamber music writ large” and “opulent” by Arts Desk.

Singers singled out by cultural commentators included Lise Davidsen for her “superlative” performance in the title role in a “long overdue feminist reassessment” of Ariadne auf Naxos at Festival d’Aix en Provence (Seen & Heard), as well as for her involvement in the Royal Opera House and Antonio Pappano’s Verdi Requiem – “the classiest perfection imaginable, crowned by the phenomenal Lise Davidsen” (Arts Desk).

Fellow dramatic soprano Iréne Theorin was noted in Seen & Heard as a “commanding Isolde” in Staatsoper Berlin and Daniel Barenboim’s Tristan und Isolde, as was Natalya Romaniw, who sang "with grace and conviction” in the world premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Testament alongside the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Kirill Karabits.

David Alden’s “fine Lohengrin” at the Royal Opera House was singled out by The Stage, as was Garsington’s first full-scale commission, The Skating Rink, featuring Susan Bickley creating the role of Carmen.

2018 ended well for Sir James MacMillan, whose Cumnock Tryst took the number one spot in Fiona Maddox’s Best Classical Music of 2018 list for its unique role in “revitalising a local community with world-class performances”. The Scotsman, looking ahead to 2019, noted “it’s going to be a big year for Scotland’s most high-profile composer” as MacMillan turns 60, celebrating with a host of concerts and new works.

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Martyn Brabbins conducts the Philharmonia Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall

06 January 2019

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Philharmonia Orchestra

Martyn Brabbins joins the Philharmonia Orchestra in concert at the Royal Festival Hall on 20 January 2019, conducting the world premiere of Geoffrey Gordon's concerto for bass clarinet, Prometheus. The concerto will be performed by the orchestra's Principal bass clarinet Laurent Ben Slimane. Brabbins also conducts Elgar Introduction and Allegro, Vaughan Williams Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis and Britten Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra. Brabbins also conducts the programme at Leicester's De Montfort Hall on 19 January.

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Martyn Brabbins conducts the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra live on BBC Radio 3

03 January 2019

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BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

Martyn Brabbins renews his long partnership with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra this month with a performance at Glasgow City Halls on 17 January 2019. Brabbins conducts a programme of Dvořák Slavonic Dances and Tchaikovsky Symphony No.1 in G minor. They are also joined by renowned trombonist Jorgen van Rijn for the James MacMillan Trombone Concerto. The concert will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.

Brabbins next returns to the orchestra include in April for concerts with percussionist Colin Currie.

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Intermusica artists commemorate the centenary of the ending of the First World War

Several Intermusica artists were involved in events commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War this month both on and around Armistice Day on 11 November.

Renaud Capuçon joined Yo-Yo Ma in Paris on Armistice Day itself to perform Ravel's Sonata for Violin and Cello for world leaders including President Macron, Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Trump. 

Also on Armistice Day, Marin Alsop led the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in a performance of Brahms' German Requiem, which broke from tradition by presenting the Requiem Mass in German rather than the usual Latin. In October, Alsop also conducted three concerts with Daniil Trifonov and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra honouring the Armistice entitled A Time for Reflection.

Andrew Manze led the combined forces of the NDR Radiophilharmonie and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in two performances of Britten's War Requiem, first at the Kuppelsaal Hannover on 3 November and then at Liverpool Cathedral on 10 November. Click here to watch Manze and members of the orchestras talk about the project.

In Cardiff, Mark Wigglesworth conducted the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and soloists Emma Bell, Alan Clayton and Roman Trekel in Britten's War Requeim, which interspersed the words of the Mass for the Dead with the poetry of Wilfred Owen.

On 4 November, the London Symphony Orchestra gave the London premiere of Sir James MacMillan's All the Hills and Vales Along, a new oratorio written for soloist Ian Bostridge and based on poems by Charles Hamilton Sorley who was killed at the Battle of Loos in 1915.

On 10 and 11 November, Cantori New York gave the US premiere of Thierry Escaich's oratorio "Cris", which was written after the novel by Laurent Gaudé Les Cris de Paris which explores the experience of French soldiers in the trenches. Its world premiere came in 2016 at the Théâtre de Verdun to mark the centenary of the Battle of Verdun, the longest of the war.

Hubert Zapiór joined the Albany Symphony at the Proctors Theater in Schenectady to perform War Requiem under the baton of David Allan Miller.

On 10 November Anthony Gregory and Susan Bickley joined the BBC Symphony Orchestra for a performance of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s The Silver Tassie. Turnage's opera is an adapatation of Sean O’Casey’s provocative 1928 play of the same name, which critiqued the damaging impact of the war.

On 9 November, Marta Fontanals-Simmons joined the Jenaer Philharmonie to perform Benjamin Ellin's One Before Zero, a one-movement oratorio commemorating the Battle of the Somme. The work weaves together first-hand accounts of the Great War in English, German and French and illustrates, both linguistically and musically, how the trauma of war affected all nations equally. Click here to read an interview with Fontanals-Simmons about the piece.

Martyn Brabbins and English National Opera perform a staged version of Britten's War Requiem directed by Kaspar Holten on 16 and 22 November. Intermusica's David Butt Philip leads the soloists for the performances.

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"Could Martyn Brabbins be the saviour of ENO?": Martyn Brabbins interviewed in the Daily Telegraph

09 November 2018

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Daily Telegraph

Martyn Brabbins was interviewed by Rupert Christiansen for the Daily Telegraph, published on 9 November 2018. Focussing on Brabbins' tenure at the head of English National Opera, the interview also touches on his early career and future plans for the company.

"Did we get Martyn Brabbins wrong? When English National Opera appointed him music director in 2017 in the wake of Mark Wigglesworth’s abrupt and apparently acrimonious departure, he was widely thought to be a safe pair of hands who would do the job competently and execute orders without creating further trouble for a conflicted administration under heavy fire from all sides.

But the board may have got more than it bargained for, because if my rather scratchy interview with him is anything to go by, he is no pushover. Brabbins isn’t anyone’s “yes” man, and he brings to his post a sword rather than an olive branch – a sword he will wield in admirable defence of the company’s soul."

Click here to read more.

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Martyn Brabbins conducts staged War Requiem with David Butt Philip at English National Opera

02 November 2018

Related profiles:
David Butt Philip

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English National Opera

Martyn Brabbins conducts a fully staged Britten War Requiem at English National Opera from 16 November 2018 to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War. Directed by Daniel Kremer, it features the massed choirs of ENO chorus and the specially-formed chorus for Porgy and Bess, and soloists David Butt Philip, Emma Bell and Roderick Williams.

Brabbins continues the Armistice theme in the next instalment of his Vaughan Williams symphonic cycle, conducting the Symphony No.3 “Pastoral” with the BBC Symphony at the Barbican on 30 November, coupling it with a new work reflective of WWI by Cheryl Frances-Hoad, Last Man Standing. He then takes the Vaughan Williams into the studio to continue the cycle for Hyperion. Their first two discs have had spectacular reviews, most recently:

“ a majestic interpretation that I can unhesitatingly place in the front rank alongside the 1953 Boult…"
Gramophone, October 2018

Brabbins also conducts the BBC Symphony at the Barbican a week earlier on 15 November, replacing the orchestra’s Chief Conductor Sakari Oramo to conduct Ethyl Smyth’s rarely-performed Mass in D, in a celebration of 100 years of women’s suffrage.

This season, David Butt Philip makes his company and role debut in the title role Der Zwerg, a new production by Christoph Loy at Deutsche Oper Berlin and returns to Teatro Real Madrid to sing Froh Das Rheingold in a new production of the Ring cycle; to the Royal Opera House as Grigoriy Boris Godunov; and Opera Holland Park in his debut as Count Vaudemont in Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta. Butt Philip’s upcoming concert highlights include Beethoven Symphony No.9 on New Years’ Eve with the Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin and Vladimir Jurowski, Verdi Requiem with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall and Faust La damnation de Faust with the Hallé Orchestra.

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Martyn Brabbins awarded Gold Badge Award by the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors

18 September 2018

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British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors

On 18 September 2018 Martyn Brabbins was awarded a Gold Badge Award by the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors. Brabbins was recognized for his outstanding contribution to the creative community.

Other recipients of the award include the jazz singer Claire Martin OBE and the composer Scott Stroman. The awards will be presented by broadcaster Janice Long at the Savoy Hotel on 19 October.

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Martyn Brabbins conducts new production of Salome at English National Opera with Susan Bickley, Michael Colvin & Simon Shibambu

14 September 2018

Related profiles:
Susan Bickley
Michael Colvin
Simon Shibambu

External Links:
English National Opera

Martyn Brabbins opens English National Opera's season conducting a new production of Richard Strauss Salome on 28 September. The production is directed by the Australian Adena Jacobs and features a cast including Allison Cook (Salome) and David Soar (Jokanaan) and Intermusica artists Michael Colvin (Herod), Susan Bickley (Herodias) and Simon Shibambu (Soldier).

Brabbins next appears at English National Opera in November, conducting a new staged production of Britten War Requiem from ENO Artistic Director Daniel Kramer. Last season at ENO Brabbins conducted the world premiere of Nico Muhly’s Marnie (a co-production with The Met) and, most recently, revived Fiona Shaw's Marriage of Figaro:

"A gratifying success…"
Financial Times, April 2018

Salome is the first of two appearances at ENO for Colvin, who returns later this season in a revival of David Alden’s acclaimed production of Lucia di Lammermoor. He also makes his company debut with Opera di Firenze as Cornwall in Reimann’s Lear, conducted by Fabio Luisi and returns to Salzburg Festival as Laios in Enescu’s Oedipe.

Bickley is a regular guest at English National Opera, recently appearing in Rodelinda and as a "superb" (Guardian) Paulina in the world premiere of Ryan Wigglesworth The Winter's Tale. Other highlights this season include Kabanicha in Janáček Káťa Kabanová in a new production for the Royal Opera House by Richard Jones, the Queen of Sheba in a concert version of Solomon with Christian Curnyn for the Royal Opera House, and Dido in Purcell Dido and Aeneas in Boston with the Handel and Haydn Society.

Shibambu is making his debut at English National Opera in this production. Elsewhere this season he returns to Covent Garden as Pietro in Simon Boccanegra and as Doctor Grenvil in La traviata. He also debuts at Dutch National Opera as Calazán in Micha Hamel’s Caruso in Cuba.

Salome runs at the Coliseum until 23 October.

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Martyn Brabbins extends contract with English National Opera through to Spring 2022

10 September 2018

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English National Opera

English National Opera announced on 10 September 2018 that Martyn Brabbins’ contract as the company’s Music Director has been extended by a further two seasons through to Spring 2022, six seasons in all.

Brabbins is an inspirational force in British music, highly regarded as one of the country’s leading conductors, and integral to ENO’s artistic team. Under his tenure as Music Director, ENO has continued to develop as a centre for excellence in music making, bringing a fresh approach to the repertoire and forging ground-breaking collaborations with contemporary composers.

ENO’s 2018/19 season, the first Brabbins has fully programmed alongside Artistic Director Daniel Kramer, sees him conduct three pieces; a brand-new production of Strauss Salome opening on 28 September, a contemporary staging of Britten War Requiem and the world premiere of Iain Bell Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel.

This month also sees the release of a new album of music by Havergal Brian on the Dutton Vocalion label, featuring the ENO Chorus and Orchestra and a British cast conducted by Brabbins. The disc includes the first ever recording of Brian’s Vision of Cleopatra. 

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10 Intermusica artists nominated for 2018 Gramophone Awards

The shortlist for the 2018 Gramophone Awards has been released, and there are 10 Intermusica artists included among the nominations. The winners will be announced at the Gramophone Awards Ceremony on 13 September.

See the full details of the nominees below.

Renaud Capuçon features on two nominated recordings in the Chamber category, both released on Erato. The first, of Brahms String Sextets, was recorded live at Capuçon's Festival de Pacques in Aix-en-Provence, while the second nominated record is a collection of chamber works by Debussy.

The Pavel Haas Quartet and Boris Giltburg are nominated for their recording of Dvorák Quintets, which was released by Supraphon. The recording was met with great acclaim upon release and was named Recording of the Month by BBC Music Magazine, Album of the Week in the Sunday Times and Editor's Choice by Gramophone.

In the Choral category, Joélle Harvey features on Arcangelo's nominated recording of three Magnificats from CPE Bach, JS Bach and JC Bach. Harvey was praised by Gramophone for her "uniformly dramatic and engaging singing".

Lise Davidsen features in the Concerto category, singing in the Incidental Music to Peer Gynt in the Bergen Philharmonic and Edward Gardner's album of Grieg, which also features the composer's Piano Concerto.

Håkan Hardenberger's recording of Brett Dean's trumpet concerto, Dramatis personae, is nominated in the Contemporary category. 

Martyn Brabbins is nominated for three awards this year. In the Contemporary category, he is nominated for his BIS recording devoted to the works of John Pickard and his NMC album of Howard Skempton The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. He is also nominated in the Orchestral category for his recording of Tippett's First and Second Symphonies, released on Hyperion.

The Colin Currie Group is also nominated in the Contemporary category. The group performed Steve Reich Mallet Quartet on the composer's nominated album, Pulse.

In the Orchestral category, Colin Currie featured on Ondine's recording of Elliot Carter Late Works. Currie performed Two Controversies and a Conversation, a work for piano, percussion and chamber orchestra.

Mary Bevan's solo album, Voyages, is nominated in the Solo Voice category. Recorded with pianist Joseph Middleton, Voyages features a wide-ranging group of songs by composers including Bréville, Schubert, Debussy and Duparc.

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Intermusica artists at the 2018 Edinburgh International Festival

The Edinburgh International Festival announced the programme for this year's edition on 15 March 2018, and as ever there is a strong Intermusica presence at the festival. 

Richard Egarr and the Academy of Ancient Music return to the festival this year for a concert of Vivaldi and Telemann with Nicola Benedetti on 4 August. Egarr leads the ensemble from the harpsichord and is the soloist for Vivaldi's A major Concerto.

Carlos Miguel Prieto brings the Youth Orchestra of the Americas to Edinburgh for a performance with pianist Gabriela Montero on 7 August. Prieto conducts a programme of Chávez Sinfonia india, Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.1 and Copland Symphony No.3.

Martyn Brabbins joins forces with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Edinburgh Festival Chorus on 9 August to celebrate the 90th birthday of composer Thea Musgrave. Brabbins conducts the Scottish premiere of Musgrave's Turbulent Landscapes, a journey through six Turner land and seascapes, and Vaughan Williams A Sea Symphony.

Lise Davidsen travels to Edinburgh for her festival debut on 16 August. Davidsen joins Vasily Petrenko and the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra to sing orchestral songs by Strauss, including "Cäcilie" and "Wiegenlied". Davidsen sang the same works with the orchestra in Oslo earlier this season and also recently joined them for Strauss Four Last Songs.

Roger Vignoles returns to Edinburgh, this time with soprano Dorothea Röschmann on 21 August. Vignoles accompanies Röschmann in a programme of Romantic songs by Schubert, Schumann, Beethoven and Wolf.

The Pavel Haas Quartet returns to the festival on 22 August to perform two landmark quartets: Schubert String Quartet No.13 'Rosamunde' and Ravel String Quartet. Shostakovich String Quartet No.7 completes the programme.

James Ehnes reunites with Stephen Osborne on 23 August for a recital at the Queen's Hall. Together they explore a programme of works by Brahms, Prokofiev, Debussy and Ravel. This is their second collaboration of the season after a critically acclaimed performance of Messiaen Quartet for the End of Time at the Southbank Centre's International Chamber Music Series.

Marin Alsop brings the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra to Edinburgh for two concerts celebrating Leonard Bernstein's centenary on 24 and 26 August. The first features three works associated with him as a performer: Stravinsky The Firebird, Gershwin Piano Concerto with Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Schumann Symphony No.2. The second concert opens with birthday tributes to Bernstein from Berio, John Corigliano and John Williams and features three of Bernstein's works: his Serenade performed by Nicola Benedetti, Symphonic Dances from West Side Story and Three Dance Episodes from On the Town.

Soprano Lise Lindstrom joins Daniel Harding and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra to perform Mahler Symphony No.8 on 26 August. The performance also features the Edinburgh Festival Chorus and the NYCoS National Girls Choir.

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Martyn Brabbins leads BBC National Orchestra of Wales in celebration of Parry at the BBC Proms

13 July 2018

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BBC Proms

Martyn Brabbins and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales continue their long partnership with a sold-out appearance at the BBC Proms on 27 July 2018. The concert is a celebration of Parry’s legacy, featuring his own works alongside music by his pupils Ralph Vaughan Williams and Gustav Holst.

Brabbins begins the concert with Parry Symphony No.5, which is followed by Vaughan Williams The Lark Ascending with soloist Tai Murray. Parry Here my words, ye people opens the second half, after which Brabbins conducts Holst Ode to Death and Vaughan Williams Pastoral Symphony. The concert will be broadcast live on BBC Four.

This follows a prime spot together in the Cheltenham Festival on 6 July, with another English programme. Earlier this month Brabbins takes English National Opera to the Henley Festival for a programme of operatic excerpts.

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The BBC Proms returns this year on 13 July 2018, and as ever there is a strong Intermusica presence at the festival. This year sees returns for artists including Marin Alsop, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, John Wilson, Colin Currie and Antoine Tamestit, while Intermusica also brings the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and the Baltimore Symphony to the festival as part of the Proms' celebrations of the centenary of Leonard Bernstein's birth. All concerts are broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.

Francesco Piemontesi returns to the Proms at 7.30pm on 14 July, joining Alain Altinoglu and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra as the soloist for Mozart Piano Concerto No.27.

On 15 July at 7pm, Colin Currie and Martin James Bartlett join an array of previous winners and finalists for a concert celebrating the 40th anniversary of BBC Young Musician. Currie performs Steve Reich Drumming – Part I with Colin Currie Group members and fellow BBC Young Musician competitors Sam Walton, Aiden Spillet and Owen Gunnell, while Martin James Bartlett performs in Saint-Saëns Carnival of the Animals.

Mark Simpson returns to the Royal Albert Hall at 7.30pm on 16 July to perform Magnus Lindberg Clarinet Concerto. He is accompanied by Juanjo Mena and the BBC Philharmonic.

Susan Bickley renews her relationship with the London Sinfonietta and Sir George Benjamin at 3pm on 21 July in a Prom at the Roundhouse in Camden. Bickley performs in a programme featuring a quartet of war-themed premieres as well as works by Stravinsky, Messiaen and Ives.

Simon Halsey leads the BBC Proms Youth Choir once again this year in concert with Donald Runnicles and the World Orchestra for Peace at 7.30pm on 21 July. They perform Shadow, a new, First World War-themed commission from Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds. Also on the programme are Britten Sinfonia da Requiem and Beethoven Symphony No.9. Halsey returns in August for concerts with the London Symphony Chorus and Orchestra under Sir Simon Rattle and in September with the City of Birmingham Symphony Choruses with Andris Nelsons and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

On 25 July, Ben Gernon returns to the Proms with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. Gernon, the orchestra’s Principal Guest Conductor, leads the BBC Philharmonic in the world premiere of Tansy Davies What did We See?, an orchestral suite from the composer’s recent opera Between Worlds. He also conducts Beethoven Piano Concerto No.5 ‘Emperor’ with soloist Paul Lewis and Brahms Symphony No.2. The concert starts at 7.30pm.

Martyn Brabbins conducts the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales in a programme celebrating English composer Hubert Parry at 7pm on 27 July. Brabbins conducts Parry’s Symphony No.5 and Hear my words, ye people! alongside works by his pupils Vaughan Williams and Holst. Tai Murray is the soloist in Vaughan Williams The Lark Ascending, while soprano Francesca Chiejina and bass-baritone Ashley Riches also feature.

Andrew Manze returns this year alongside the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, conducting the orchestra in a London-focussed programme at 7pm on 31 July. The concert opens with Haydn Symphony No.104 ‘London’, and after the interval Manze conducts Vaughan Williams A London Symphony.

On 5 August, Brett Dean joins Thomas Dausgaard and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra for their Brandenburg Project. Over two concerts, the orchestra presents Bach’s six Brandenburg Concertos alongside six newly commissioned companion works. Dean performs as viola soloist in the second concert at 7.30pm, while his Approach – Prelude to a Canon is one of the companion works.

Nicholas Collon and his Aurora Orchestra make their annual appearance in a late-night Prom focussing on Shostakovich at 10.15pm on 6 August. Joined once again by BBC broadcaster Tom Service, Collon and the Orchestra unpack the composer’s Symphony No.9 before performing it from memory. The concert also features Shostakovich Piano Concerto No.2 with soloist Denis Kozhukhin.

Intermusica renews its relationship with the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and Sir Antonio Pappano at 7.30pm on 10 August, bringing them to the Proms as part of the festival's celebrations for the Bernstein centenary (Bernstein was the orchestra's honorary conductor for a decade). Pappano conducts the composer's Symphony No.1 'Jeremiah' alongside Haydn The Creation - Chaos and Mahler Symphony No.1.

John Wilson follows last year’s performances of Oklahoma! with the John Wilson Orchestra with two concert performances of Bernstein West Side Story on 11 August, at 3.30pm and 8pm.

Renaud Capuçon appears at the Proms at 7pm on 16 August alongside the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande in its debut appearance at the festival. Capuçon is the soloist for Ravel Violin Sonata No.2, which has been orchestrated by Yan Maresz.

Patricia Bardon joins Sir Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra in a concert performance of Ravel L’enfant et les sortilèges on 18 August at 7.30pm.

John Wilson makes a second appearance at the Proms on 25 August when he conducts the London Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Bernstein On the Town.

Marin Alsop conducts the Proms Scratch Orchestra in two free concerts at Maida Vale Studios on 26 August. The Scratch Orchestra, made up of amateur musicians and members of the BBC Concert Orchestra, performs movements from Shostakovich Symphony No.5.

Joshua Weilerstein returns to the Proms at 7.30pm on 26 August to conduct the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in a tribute to Leonard Bernstein’s televised Young People’s Concerts. Utilizing words, projections and music, the concert features works including Stravinsky The Rite of Spring, Ligeti Apparations and Debussy La mer alongside works by Bernstein and Beethoven.

Wallis Giunta makes her Proms debut at 1pm on 27 August, leading a recital of works by Bernstein and his associates at Cadogan Hall. As well as works by Copland, Sondheim and Barber, the concert features the world premiere of a new song by British composer Bushra El-Turk, Crème Brûlée on a Tree, inspired by Bernstein’s recipe settings.

Marin Alsop returns to the Proms at 8pm on 27 August as Intermusica brings the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra to the festival for a concert of Bernstein and Shostakovich with pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet.

Lise Davidsen joins Andrés Orozco-Estrada and the London Philharmonic Orchestra for Verdi Requiem at 7.30pm on 30 August.

Mary Bevan joins the BBC Concert Orchestra at Alexanda Palace at 3pm on 1 September to star in Sullivan Trial by Jury alongside Neal Davies, Sam Furness and Ross Ramgobin.

Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique return to the Proms at 7.30pm on 5 September for a programme of Berlioz. They are joined by Antoine Tamestit, who performs Harold in Italy, while Joyce DiDonato sings arias from Le mort de Cléopatre and Les Troyens.

Russell Braun joins the Royal Scottish National Orchestra under Peter Oundjian at 7pm on 6 September as the baritone soloist in Britten War Requiem. Braun performs alongside Erin Wall and Allan Clayton.

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Martyn Brabbins' second season as Music Director of English National Opera announced

01 May 2018

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English National Opera

Martyn Brabbins' second season as Music Director of English National Opera was announced on 1 May 2018, the first planned jointly by Brabbins and Artistic Director Daniel Kramer.

Brabbins himself conducts a new production of Salome, a new staged production of Britten War Requiem and a world premiere by British composer Iain Bell.

After the excellent coverage of Brabbins’ conducting of Nico Muhly Marnie in the Autumn (his first as Music Director), he again impressed at ENO with Marriage of Figaro last month:

"A gratifying success… Music director Martyn Brabbins conducts plausible, big-house Mozart."
Financial Times

"Brabbins leads a generous, airy, subtle and joyous account of this heavenly score – without any pretention, rushing, non-vibrato point-proving or excess ego to get in its way."
4 stars, Arts Desk

"Brabbins drew crisply lively playing from the orchestra in the overture, this fair crackled with excitement. It wasn't period performance, the string tone had more weight than that, but nor was it a richly romantic one. The instruments provided a lively and vividly engaging counterpoint to the activity on stage."
Planet Hugill

"Brabbins leads a fleet account of the score with a strong sense of immediacy and response between pit and stage, and with some great playing from the ENO Orchestra. The Overture has real verve and the wedding dances are sprightly. Brabbins is also very considerate to his singers who are given full rein to show off their best."
Classical Source

"Uniformly fine singing cast and a tremendous feeling of esprit de corps….Martyn Brabbins conducts with superb timing."
5 stars, Daily Mail

Guest engagements in May and June take Brabbins back several times to the Low Countries. After a very successful tour with the BBC Symphony to Holland and Belgium last season, Brabbins returns this time with the BBC Scottish Symphony to perform repertoire by Elgar and Macmillan in Bruges, Eindhoven and Heerlen, joining the Rotterdam Symphony Chorus for Dream of Gerontius at Rotterdam's De Doelen. Earlier in the month he also conducts the Belgian premiere of Mark Anthony Turnage's percussion concerto Martland Memorial with fellow Intermusica artist Colin Currie.

Then on 23 June Brabbins returns to the Holland Festival, where he is a favourite guest, to conduct the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic in a hommage to George Benjamin, broadcast live on NPO Radio 4.

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Colin Currie & Martyn Brabbins perform Belgian premiere of Turnage's Martland Memorial

21 April 2018

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Colin Currie

External Links:
Antwerp Symphony

Colin Currie joins the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra for the Belgian premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage Martland Memorial under the baton of Martyn Brabbins on 5 May 2018. This concerto-styled work, composed for Currie, is a tribute to composer Steve Martland and had its world premiere last year at the Southbank Centre.

The world premiere was met with widespread acclaim:

“Mark-Anthony Turnage’s new percussion piece made a striking centrepiece to this London concert… The closing 'Lachryme', so simple in design, has an eloquent melancholy that lingers. As always, Currie made a vivid focal point on multifarious percussion instruments, mostly marimba and vibraphone, but also cocking a snook with quacking duck calls, birdsong and car horn."
Financial Times, April 2017

Martland Memorial is co-commissioned by London’s Southbank Centre, Snape Maltings, Antwerp Symphony Orchestra and Minnesota Orchestra.

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Martyn Brabbins conducts Fiona Shaw's Marriage of Figaro at English National Opera with Rhian Lois as Susanna

15 March 2018

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Rhian Lois

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English National Opera

Martyn Brabbins leads his second production as Music Director of English National Opera this month, conducting a revival of Fiona Shaw's production of The Marriage of Figaro from 29 March 2018. He conducts a cast that features Intermusica's Rhian Lois making her role debut as Susanna as well as Thomas Oliemans in the title role, Ashley Riches as Almaviva and Lucy Crowe as Countess Almaviva.

Brabbins began his tenure at English National Opera conducting the world premiere of Nico Muhly Marnie, for which he was highly praised:

"Sterling conducting from Martyn Brabbins"
Times, November 2017

"Martyn Brabbins conducts with great sensitivity"
Guardian, November 2017

"ENO’s new Music Director Martyn Brabbins conducts with enthusiastic commitment"
Telegraph, November 2017

"In the pit, Martyn Brabbins imposes his authority as ENO’s new music director"
Financial Times, November 2017

Rhian Lois is one of ENO's Harewood Artists and returns to the company in June to make a second debut, this time as the Governess in Britten's The Turn of the Screw.

The Marriage of Figaro runs at the Coliseum until 14 April.

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The Southbank Centre launched its 2018/19 classical season on 30 January 2018, with Intermusica artists and performing throughout the year. Highlights include Marin Alsop continuing her relationship with the Southbank in concerts with the Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightenment and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Nicholas Collon and the Aurora Orchestra continuing their residency, and performances from Leonidas Kavakos, John Wilson, Kian Soltani and George Li.

Another major highlight of the season is the International Chamber Music Series, which Intermusica co-promotes with the Southbank Centre. This year it opens with a concert from Jordi Savall and his Hesperion XXI and features a concert marking the centenary of author Muriel Spark from the Nash Ensemble, and performances from Leonidas Kavakos and Yuja Wang, the Jerusalem, Artemis and Belcea quartets, and performances of Stockhausen by Southbank Centre Artist in Residence Pierre-Laurent Aimard.

Nicholas Collon and the Aurora Orchestra continue as Associate Orchestra with three concerts in the new season. The first, on 16 September 2018, pairs a memorized performance of Beethoven Symphony No.5 with HK Gruber's Frankenstein!! in a concert conceived and directed by Jane Mitchell. Their second, on 20 January 2019, is titled Songs from the Road and features Mahler's Songs of a Wayfarer, arrangements of folk ballads and the world premiere of Du Yun Where we lost our shadows. Their final concert takes place on 5 June 2019 and features works by Beethoven, Thomas Adès, a Max Richter world premiere and Mozart's Symphony No.41.

Kirill Gerstein renews his partnership with Thomas Adès when he joins the composer and the London Philharmonic Orchestra on 26 September to perform Adès' concerto for piano and orchestra, In Seven Days.

Geoffrey Paterson returns to the London Sinfonietta on 13 October to conduct them in a performance of Pascal Dusapin Passion, a collaboration with Music Theatre Wales.

Patricia Bardon returns to the role of Baba the Turk in a performance of Stravinsky The Rake's Progress with Vladimir Jurowski and the London Philharmonic Orchestra on 3 November.

Lahav Shani and Francesco Piemontesi join forces for a concert of Brahms and Beethoven with the Philharmonia Orchestra on 4 November. Shani conducts Weber Oberon Overture, Brahms Symphony No.1 and Beethoven Piano Concerto No.5 'Emperor', with himself as piano soloist.

Marin Alsop makes her first visit of the season on 11 November, conducting the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in a performance of Brahms Ein deutsches Requiem. She then returns on 16 January to conduct the London Philharmonic Orchestra in a contemporary programme with Colin Currie giving the world premiere of Helen Grime's Percussion Concerto.

John Wilson returns to the Philharmonia Orchestra on 15 November for a concert of Gershwin and Walton. He is joined by Louis Schwizgebel, who performs Gershwin Piano Concerto. Wilson then brings his John Wilson Orchestra to the Southbank Centre on 15 December, leading them in a characteristic programme of music from Hollywood and Broadway. He returns on 18 April to lead the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in a special performance of Gilbert & Sullivan Trial by Jury.

Mary Bevan joins the Philharmonia Orchestra and conductor Brian Wright for a seasonal performance of Handel's Messiah on 16 December.

Leonidas Kavakos appears at the Southbank Centre's International Chamber Music Series on 18 January alongside Yuja Wang, performing a recital of Mozart, Prokofiev, Bartók and Strauss.

Martyn Brabbins joins the Philharmonia Orchestra on 20 January 2019 to conduct an English programme of Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Britten and the London premiere of Geoffrey Gordon's Prometheus, a concerto for bass clarinet and orchestra.

Jacques Imbrailo joins the Mozartists and conductor Ian Page on 29 January for the next concert in their Mozart 250 series, which is themed around the year 1769. Imbrailo sings arias by Gluck, Haydn, Arne, Gréty and Paisiello.

Susan Bickley returns to the Southbank Centre to sing Beethoven Symphony No.9 alongside the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Oliver Gooch on 16 March.

Kian Soltani returns on 23 March after his acclaimed debut at Southbank Centre with the West–Eastern Divan Orchestra. This time he joins Edward Gardner and the London Philharmonic Orchestra to play Elgar Cello Concerto.

George Li joins Vasily Petrenko and the London Philharmonic Orchestra on 27 March to perform Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.1, part of a programme that also features Khachaturian Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia and Walton Symphony No.1.

Following a critically acclaimed London conducting debut with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain in 2017, Carlos Miguel Prieto returns to lead the young musicians in a concert on 12 April. Prieto conducts an exciting programme of Revueltas, Carlos Chávez and Copland.

Francesco Piemontesi returns to the International Piano Series on 2 May, performing a solo recital of works by Bach, Debussy and Rachmaninov.

Martin James Bartlett joins the Philharmonia Orchestra on 7 May to perform Ravel Piano Concerto in G, part of a programme that also features the world premiere of Cecilia McDowall Da Vinci Requiem.

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Intermusica at the Barbican Centre's 2018/19 classical season

The Barbican Centre revealed its classical music season for 2018/19 on 23 January 2018, and as ever there are many Intermusica artists performing over the season. Highlights include Daniil Trifonov's London Symphony Orchestra Artist Portrait, the visit of Sir Antonio Pappano and the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia to perform Mahler Symphony No.6 and Sir John Eliot Gardiner's return to the LSO. See below for full details.

Daniil Trifonov is the subject of the LSO's Artist Portrait next season. The Portrait begins in February 2019 when he performs Ravel Piano Concerto with the orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle, and continues in June with a performance of Beethoven Piano Concerto No.5 and a solo recital of works by Beethoven and Prokofiev. It culminates on 16 June with a performance of Shostakovich Concerto No.1 for piano, trumpet and strings.

On 29 September 2018, Ben Gernon conducts the BBC Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Holst The Planets, presented by scientist and broadcaster Professor Brian Cox.

Sir James MacMillan's All the Hills and Vales Along receives its world premiere from the London Symphony Orchestra and Simon Halsey's London Symphony Chorus on 4 November and forms part of the Barbican Centre's series of events commemorating the First World War. Earlier that day, the piece is the focus of an LSO Discovery Day, during which members of the public can attend a morning LSO rehearsal of the MacMillan premiere followed by chamber music and a discussion about creative responses to World War I.

Martyn Brabbins is also involved in the First World War anniversary, conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra in the world premiere of Cheryl Frances-Hood's Last Man Standing, part of a programme that also includes Bax November Woods and Vaughan Williams Symphony No.4.

Marin Alsop returns to the Barbican on 4 December to continue the Bernstein at 100 celebrations with a concert performance of the composer's Candide. Leonardo Capalbo stars in the title role.

Leonidas Kavakos makes two appearances at the Barbican during the 2018/19 season. In September he joins Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax in bringing their critically acclaimed Brahms Piano Trios to the Barbican Hall. In December, he renews his relationship with Sir Simon Rattle and the LSO when he performs Brahms Violin Concerto.

James Ehnes returns to the Barbican on 18 January 2019, performing Beethoven Violin Concerto with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Mary Bevan joins John Butt and the BBC Symphony Orchestra to perform Bach's B minor Mass on 2 February, singing with her sister Sophie Bevan, tenor Samuel Boden and bass-baritone Edward Grint.

Sir John Eliot Gardiner continues his fruitful collaboration with the London Symphony Orchestra in February, conducting two concerts of works by Weber, Mendelssohn and Schumann. Gardiner is joined by soloists Isabelle Faust, Kristian Bezuidenhout and Piotr Anderszewski.

Lahav Shani joins the LSO in February, alongside pianist Simon Trpčeski, for a concert of Weill, Rachmaninov and Stravinsky.

Nora Fischer joins the BBC Symphony Orchestra and conductor Joana Carneiro in concert on 11 May, performing as soprano soloist in the UK premiere of Golijov Oceana.

Intermusica brings the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia to the Barbican on 25 May for a concert with their Music Director, Sir Antonio Pappano. 

Kian Soltani performs at LSO St Luke's in June, as part of the ECHO Rising Stars tour, for which he was nominated by the Wiener Konzerthaus and Wiener Musikverein.

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Martyn Brabbins & BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra give first professional performance of Tippett Symphony in B flat

18 January 2018

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BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

Martyn Brabbins and the BBC Scottish Symphony give the first professional performance of Tippett’s early Symphony in B flat at Glasgow’s City Halls on 1 February 2018. The concert will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3, and the symphony will subsequently be recorded for Hyperion, together with Tippett’s symphonies 3 and 4. Brabbins has already performed Tippet's 3rd and 4th symphonies in concert with the BBCSSO this season, most recently in January:

“The BBC SSO’s journey through the symphonies of Michael Tippett, under Martyn Brabbins’ judicious direction, has been fascinating to behold. It was the turn of Symphony No 4 on Thursday, a work that few will have heard live, and which proved, in a performance full of self-belief, to be both compelling and puzzling at the same time. …The score is wonderfully intense, Tippett’s contrapuntal wizardry capturing pungency and sparkle in equal measure. Brabbins’ fused these together in a bejewelled tapestry, eliciting an electrifying clarity and charisma from the SSO.”
The Scotsman, January 2018

Hyperion released the first installment in Brabbins' Tippett cycle, recordings of Symphonies No.1 and No.2, with the BBC SSO in January with the same forces earlier this month:

"Brabbins and the BBCSSO give buoyancy and a real sense of purpose to the sometimes congested textures of No 1 ... they also capture all the exuberance of No 2, with its springing, pounding rhythms and pools of delicate lyricism"
The Guardian, January 2018

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At the end of each year we look forward to reading critics’ musical highlights from the last 12 months; we’re delighted to see many of our artists featured in a host of such round-ups.

A standout achievement of the year was Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s Monteverdi 450 tour, which was praised globally. The tour commemorated the 450th anniversary of the composer’s death and visited the Berlin Festival, Philharmonie de Paris, the new National Forum of Music in Wrocław, and the Salzburg, Edinburgh International and Lucerne festivals, as well as Bristol’s Colston Hall, Aix-en-Provence, Barcelona’s Palau de la Música Catalana and a historic residency at Teatro La Fenice in Venice, the composer's adopted home. Hugh Canning in the Sunday Times praised it as “dazzling”, while it was also chosen as one of the highlights of the year by the Guardian and Alex Ross of the New Yorker, who praised the “deft, vivid” productions that confirmed that “the first great opera composer remains the master of the game.” It was also chosen by the Herald Scotland, The Arts Desk, New York Classical Review and Chicago Classical Review.

Another highlight was the world premiere run of Brett Dean’s Hamlet at Glyndebourne Festival Opera. Hugh Canning picked it as his operatic highlight of the year in the Sunday Times, and it also featured in round-ups in the Evening Standard, The Arts Desk and The Stage.

Hugh Canning also praised David Butt Philip’s “searing” performance in Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius with Sir Mark Elder and the Hallé.

Nicholas Collon’s Prom with his Aurora Orchestra, in which he conducted Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony from memory, was chosen as one of the Evening Standard’s highlights of the classical year, as was the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester’s visit to London. The orchestra’s performance at the Barbican featured Intermusica artists Leonidas Kavakos and Kirill Gerstein performing Beethoven’s Triple Concerto, and was part of the orchestra’s 275th anniversary tour, which Intermusica brought to Europe and Asia.

Several Intermusica artists also featured in The Arts Desk’s round-up of the best concerts and opera performances. In the concert round-up, Mark Wigglesworth’s Prom with the BBC Philharmonic was highlighted thanks to a “miraculous” performance of Haydn Symphony No.99. Kian Soltani was highly praised for his performance of Strauss Don Quixote at the Southbank Centre with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, with The Arts Desk writing that it was “quite the most vivid” critic David Nice had heard live. Nice also cited HK Gruber for his performance as conductor and chansonnier in his Frankenstein!! at the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra’s composer festival.

In The Arts Desk’s opera round-up, Martyn Brabbins’ performance of Harrison Birtwistle’s The Last Supper with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra “kicked off the year in thoughtful, complex style”, while David Nice also gave special mention to Wallis Giunta, writing that she was the “young singer of the year in my books” for her performances in L'enfant et les sortileges and Trouble in Tahiti in Opera North's well-received Little Greats series of one-act operas. Giunta was also named 'Breakthrough Artist in UK Opera' in the WhatsOnStage Opera Poll.

Meanwhile, Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s new recording of Bach St Matthew Passion, made with the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists, was chosen as one of Gramophone’s Critics’ Choice, as was Boris Giltburg’s account of Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.2 with Carlos Miguel Prieto and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

Composer and music writer Robert Hugill picked John Wilson’s recording of Walton’s Façade as one of his top recordings of the year. Also featured were Sir James MacMillan’s “powerful” Stabat Mater and Martyn Brabbins’ latest entry in the Romantic Piano Concerto series for Hyperion, this time featuring the piano concertos of Roger Sacheverell Coke.

The Pavel Haas Quartet once again found great critical success with their latest CD, which featured Dvorák Piano and String Quintets and was made with Boris Giltburg and founder and former member Pavel Nikl. The album was chosen as one of the records of the year by the Boston Globe and WQXR.

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Martyn Brabbins celebrates London Sinfonietta's 50th anniversary in Hudderfield & London

14 November 2017

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London Sinfonietta

Martyn Brabbins conducts the London Sinfonietta in a series of concerts celebrating the orchestra’s 50th anniversary in November. The concerts will explore some of the orchestra’s most iconic past performances including Xenakis’ Thalleïn, Colin Matthews’ Contraflow and Harrison Birtwistle’s Silbury Air.

The first concert on 22 November for the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival will also feature the UK premiere of Hilda Parades’ commissioned violin concerto Señales, with Irvine Arditti as soloist, while on 25 November the second concert will instead feature Wolfgang Rihm’s Chiffre II at St John’s Smith Square in London.

Brabbins enjoys a longstanding and highly successful relationship with the London Sinfonietta. The Times described last season’s collaborative performance as “a fine London Sinfonietta concert, immaculately directed by Martyn Brabbins” while the Daily Telegraph declared “the players under conductor Martyn Brabbins were alert, energised and subtle.”

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Martyn Brabbins conducts the world premiere of Nico Muhly’s Marnie in his first production as Music Director of English National Opera

04 November 2017

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English National Opera

On 18 November, Martyn Brabbins conducts English National Opera’s opening night world premiere of Nico Muhly’s new opera Marnie at the London Coliseum.

The first night will mark Brabbins’ first production as Music Director at English National Opera, with further performances on 26, 28 November, 1 and 3 December. The production is directed by Michael Mayer in co-production with the Metropolitan Opera New York, and features Sasha Cooke in the title role joined by Daniel Okulitch, Lesley Garrett and James Laing amongst others.

Brabbins is well known for his excellence in operatic productions, and his performances consistently receive critical acclaim. His next production with English National Opera will be Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro in Spring next year.

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Martyn Brabbins begins Vaughan Williams cycle with the BBC Symphony Orchestra

30 September 2017

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Barbican Centre

Martyn Brabbins joins the BBC Symphony Orchestra at London's Barbican Centre on 13 October for the first concert of their Vaughan Williams cycle. The programme consists of Harrison Birtwistle Earth Dances and Vaughan Williams Sea Symphony with the BBC Symphony Chorus, Elizabeth Llewellyn and Marcus Farnworth. Brabbins and the BBC Symphony Orchestra will subsequently record the Sea Symphony for Hyperion, the second installment in the series.

The first release in the series features Vaughan Williams London Symphony and is released on 27 October. Brabbins conducted the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Royal College of Music's brass band for the recording, which also features three lesser-known Vaughan Williams works: Sound Sleep, Orpheus with his Lute and Variations.

“There’s something particularly special about Martyn Brabbins’ new account of A London Symphony … what makes this disc stand out is the sheer thrill of the music making: these are performances that live fully in the moment and are packed with urgency … and, while the big moments rightly pack the heaviest punches, it’s the little, delicate touches that really make this interpretation take off … this is, by just about any measure, one of the great London Symphony’s on record”

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Martyn Brabbins continues Tippett symphonic cycle with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

14 September 2017

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BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

Martyn Brabbins returns to the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra on 28 September 2017 to continue his Tippett symphonic cycle. For this iteration, Brabbins conducts Tipett Symphony No.3 with Rachel Nicholls, as well as Elgar Sospiri and Sea Pictures, which features mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill.

Brabbins and the BBCSSO began their Tippett cycle last season, with their performance of Tippett’s first symphony receiving particular critical acclaim:

“Tippett’s First Symphony, the opener in Brabbins’ two-season survey of all Tippett’s symphonies with the BBC SSO, as rugged as it was shapely.... it’s not an easy work to fall in love with immediately, but Brabbins drove his lean, muscular account forward with such bristling conviction that it swept away any doubts."

"Perhaps the greatest feature of a superlative performance was that it opened the door to anyone hearing the symphony for the first time … that was the power of Brabbins’ interpretation."
Herald Scotland

The concert will be recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

Brabbins and the BBCSSO continue the cycle in January with Tippet’s Symphony No.4 and bring the cycle to a close in February with the Symphony in B flat.

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Martyn Brabbins conducts closing concert of the Edinburgh International Festival

13 August 2017

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Edinburgh International Festival

Martyn Brabbins joins the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill at Edinburgh's Usher Hall for the grand finale concert of the Edinburgh International Festival on 27 August 2017.

The concert also marks the festival's 70th anniversary and features seminal works from past festivals, such as Bliss Edinburgh Overture, Vaughan Williams Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis and Johann Strauss II Emperor Waltz. Brabbins also conducts the world premiere of Ned Bigham and Gerry Fox’s new collaborative and multi-media work, Staffa.

The concert will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 later that evening at 10pm – click here for more information.

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Martyn Brabbins opens Komische Oper’s Summer Festival with Stravinsky and Ravel

27 June 2017

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Komische Oper, Berlin

Martyn Brabbins returns to the Komische Oper Berlin on 11 July 2017 to open the house's 2017 Komische Oper Festival. Brabbins conducts a double bill of Stravinsky Petrushka and Ravel L’Enfant et les Sortilèges.

Brabbins conducted Opéra de Lyon's production of L’Enfant et les Sortilèges earlier this season to critical acclaim:

“At the head of the Opera Orchestra, British conductor Martyn Brabbins delivered conducting that was full of zest and vitality, beautiful even in the smallest details.”
La Lettre du Musicien

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Martyn Brabbins conducts Vaughan Williams at the Cheltenham Music Festival 

24 June 2017

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Cheltenham Festival

Martyn Brabbins returns to the Cheltenham Music Festival on 8 July 2017 to lead the Salomon Orchestra and Huddersfield Choral Society in Holst The Hymn of Jesus and two works by Vaughan Williams: Stricken Peninsula: An Italian Rhapsody and A Sea Symphony featuring soprano Elizabeth Watts and baritone Marcus Farnsworth. The performance takes place at Gloucester Cathedral.

Brabbins, who was previously Artistic Director of the Cheltenham Music Festival, recorded Vaughan Williams Stricken Peninsula last year with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, as part of the critically acclaimed Discovery (Albion Records, 2016). The recording was nominated for Best Classical Compendium at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards.

“Martyn Brabbins and the BBC Symphony Orchestra give their very best …cordially recommended to all RVW acolytes”

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Martyn Brabbins conducts Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on tour in the UK

01 June 2017

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Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Martyn Brabbins conducts the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in a series of four concerts across the United Kingdom this month, beginning at Cheltenham Town Hall on 15 June 2017. The tour then visits London's Cadogan Hall on 16 June, the Cambridge Corn Exchange on 17 and June and the Royal & Derngate in Northampton on 18 June.

Brabbins conducts the orchestra in a programme featuring Glinka Ruslan and Ludmila Overture and Shostakovich Symphony No.5. The first two concerts also feature Beethoven Violin Concerto with Jan Mráček as soloist. For the concert in Cambridge, Lucienne Renaudin Vary joins Brabbins and the orchestra to perform Haydn Trumpet Concerto, while Mráček rejoins the tour to perform Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in Northampton.

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Martyn Brabbins returns to Australia to conduct the West Australian Symphony Orchestra

18 May 2017

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West Australian Symphony Orchestra

Martyn Brabbins returns to Australia this month for three concerts with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra on 1, 2 and 3 June 2017. Performing at Perth Concert Hall, Brabbins conducts the orchestra in a programme featuring Sibelius En Saga, Debussy Prélude à ‘L’après-midi d’un faune and Stravinsky Firebird Suite, with pianist Ayako Uehara joining them for the concerts on 2  3 June to perform Bartók Piano Concerto No.3.

Brabbins’ appearance in Australia follows a highly successful production of Raskatov A Dog’s Heart with Dutch National Opera in Amsterdam, which was presented in a series of six performances in April and May:

"Flexible and streamlined, Brabbins knows the score and production like no other” - Trouw

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Martyn Brabbins returns to the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony

02 May 2017

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Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony

After the major success of their collaboration in 2014, Martyn Brabbins returns to conduct the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra on 16 May 2017 at the Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall. Brabbins conducts an all-British programme of Butterworth The Banks of Green Willow, Vaughan Williams Symphony No.2 ‘A London Symphony’ and the Japanese premiere of Tippett Piano Concerto with soloist Steven Osborne. 

Brabbins leads the orchestra in a second performance on 21 May, this time at the Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre. Brabbins conducts another all-British programme which this time featuresElgar Violin Concerto with soloist Fumiaki Miura and Vaughan Williams Symphony No.7 ‘Sinfonia Antartica’, which features soprano Miwako Handa and the New National Theatre Chorus.

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Martyn Brabbins returns to Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

24 March 2017

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Martyn Brabbins returns to the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra to conduct two concerts on 7 and 9 April 2017 in the Main Hall of Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, including world premieres of commissioned Easter-themed works.

The programme will begin with Debussy’s fragments symphoniques, before two new Passions commissioned by the orchestra: Nasimi-Passion by Azerbaijani composer Franghiz Ali-Zadeh and The Mystical Sacrifice by Serbian-Swedish composer Djuro Zivkovic.

Brabbins will also return to Dutch National Opera next month to lead six performances of Raskatov’s opera A Dog’s Heart from 22 April to 5 May. Brabbins returns to the work after conducting the overwhelmingly successful world premiere of A Dog’s Heart in 2010, as well as productions at La Scala and Opera de Lyon. Brabbins will again collaborate with Simon McBurney, and many of the singers from the original production are returning, including Sergei Leiferkus and Ville Rusanen.

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Martyn Brabbins conducts Birtwistle in debut with Orquestra Sinfónica do Porto Casa da Música

25 February 2017

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Orquestra Sinfónica do Porto Casa da Música

Martyn Brabbins makes his debut with the Orquestra Sinfónica do Porto Casa da Música on 11 March 2017. The concert continues Brabbins' recent exploration of Harrison Birtwistle with a programme featuring Birtwistle Violin Concerto with soloist Peter Herresthal alongside Vaughan Williams Symphony No.2.

Brabbins has conducted many works by Birtwistle, most recently with a semi-staged production of his opera The Last Supper at the Glasgow Royal Concert Halls in January, which was broadcast on BBC Radio 3:

"Martyn Brabbins conducted with a superb knack for elasticity — the orchestra clinched the yo-yoyoing between sudden movement and sudden stasis, and the intensity never dropped."
Guardian, January 2017

Click here to watch Brabbins interviewing Birtwistle at his home, where they discuss The Last Supper and life in general.

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Martyn Brabbins continues Tippett symphonic cycle with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

26 January 2017

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BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

Martyn Brabbins returns to the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra on 9 February 2017 to continue his Tippett symphonic cycle. Brabbins conducts the orchestra in a performance of Tippett Symphony No.2, part of a programme that also features Haydn Symphony No.8 'Le Soir' and Ravel: Piano Concerto for the Left Hand with soloist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet. The concert will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3, and Brabbins and the orchestra will also record Tippett Symphonies No.1 and No.2 for release by Hyperion.

Elsewhere this month, Brabbins conducts the Royal Flemish Philharmonic in three performances of Prokofiev Ivan the Terrible at the newly refurbish Queen Elizabeth Hall in Antwerp on 3, 4 and 5 February.

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Martyn Brabbins conducts the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in Birtwistle The Last Supper with Benedict Nelson & Susan Bickley

31 December 2016

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BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

Martyn Brabbins returns to the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra on 14 January 2017 at Glasgow City Halls, leading the ensemble in a performance of Harrison Birtwistle's opera The Last Supper. The performance will be recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on 28 January 2017, which will be subsequently available on BBC iPlayer for 30 days after broadcast.

The semi-staged performance, directed by Victoria Newlyn, features a leading solo cast featuring Intermusica's Benedict Nelson as John and Susan Bickley as Ghost alongside baritone Roderick Williams as Christ and tenor John Daszak as Judas.

Brabbins last conducted the BBC SSO in November 2016 in a programme of Tippett, Haydn and Ravel that the Herald Scotland described as “sizzling and life-affirming performance, “blistering” and “magisterially controlled by Brabbins at white heat”.

In addition, the Scotsman wrote:

"What brought [the three pieces] together...was the drive and vigour of visiting conductor Martyn Brabbins.”

Brabbins next appears with the BBC SSO in February 2017 in the next concert instalment of the Tippett Symphony cycle.

Nelson most recently received praise for his "vocally glorious" (Times) portrayal of Ulysses in Monteverdi Ulysses’ Homecoming for English Touring Opera with future highlights including Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony with Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, a recital at the Leeds Lieder Festival and several performances of Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast.

Bickley has this season performed in Barrie Kosky's acclaimed production of The Nose at the Royal Opera House and in Das Rheingold with the Hallé. Future engagements this season include the world premiere run of Ryan Wigglesworth's The Winter's Tale at English National Opera.

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Martyn Brabbins conducts the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin's New Year's concerts

17 December 2016

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Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin

Martyn Brabbins closes the year in Berlin, returning the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin to conduct the orchestra’s three New Year concerts on 31 December 2016 and 1 January 2017. Brabbins and the orchestra are joined at the Tempodrom Berlin for the concerts by artists including Nicolas Altstaedt on cello and performers from the Roncalli Circus.

Brabbins last conducted the DSO Berlin in June 2015 at the Berliner Philharmonie. Der Tagesspiegel praised Brabbins for his musical leadership of the ensemble:

“Brabbins encouraged the strings in Dvořák's String Serenade to play as chamber musicians... And the violins, violas, celli and basses succeeded brilliantly in breathing together and in carrying through the melodic lines even when their own group did not have the tune. Thus we heard intimate music-making, utterly gripping for the listener, drawing them in to relive this romantic scene-painting with complete concentration.”
Der Tagesspiegel, June 2015

In 2017, Brabbins continues his guest conducting appearances at the Royal Flemish Philharmonic, the Dutch National Opera, and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, among others.

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Congratulations to the Intermusica nominees at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards

09 December 2016

Related profiles:
Giancarlo Guerrero
Susan Bickley

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Grammy Awards

Recordings by Giancarlo Guerrero, Martyn Brabbins and Susan Bickley have been nominated at this year’s Grammy Awards, including nominations in three categories for Guerrero. Congratulations to all!

Giancarlo Guerrero’s recording of music by Michael Daugherty with the Nashville Symphony for Naxos is nominated in three categories: Best Classical Instrumental Solo, Best Classical Compendium and Best Contemporary Classical Compendium. Guerrero has led the Nashville Symphony to multiple Grammy wins in recent years, most recently for works by composer Stephen Paulus in February 2016.

Martyn Brabbins’ recording Ralph Vaughan Williams Discoveries with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and soloists Roderick Williams and Jennifer Johnston is nominated for Best Classical Compendium. Released on Albion Records, the disc features world premiere recordings of several Vaughan Williams pieces, and spans the composers entire career.

Susan Bickley is one of the soloists in Janáček Glagolitic Mass with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Edward Gardner, released on Chandos., and nominated for Best Choral Performance. 

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on 12 February 2017 in Los Angeles and broadcast on the CBS network.

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Martyn Brabbins receives Grammy nomination for Vaughan Williams Discovery with the BBC Symphony Orchestra

09 December 2016

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59th Annual Grammy Awards
Ralph Vaughan Williams Society

Martyn Brabbins and the BBC Symphony Orchestra have been nominated for a Grammy award in the Best Classical Compendium category for their latest Vaughan Williams recording, Discovery, released on Albion Records in September.

Discovery features world premiere recordings of realisations by Anthony Payne and others of works such as the early Three Nocturnes and his Four Last Songs, with soloists Roderick Williams and Jennifer Johnston.

This nomination further consolidates Brabbins’ reputation as one of the leading conductors of British music, both on disc and in concert, and paves the way for a projected Vaughan Williams symphony cycle with the BBC Symphony at the Barbican Centre, starting in Autumn 2017.

Last month Hyperion released another critically acclaimed recording by Brabbins (this time with the BBC Scottish Symphony) of Elgar Enigma Variations, In the South and three rarities from World War I with soprano Kate Royal: 

“Once in a while, a performance comes along that focus an understanding of a familiar work in a new way – or recaptures an insight that might have been lost. Martyn Brabbins's Enigma Variations is revelatory. Brabbins’ performance as a whole is a reminder of what a masterpiece of construction Enigma truly is….shows that ardour and subtlety can be two sides of the same complicated coin.”
Recording of the Month, 5*, BBC Music Magazine, October 2016

"Impressively emotional and dramatic performances by Brabbins…. a gem, lovingly coaxed by Brabbins…a collector’s item"
Album of the Week, Sunday Times, October 2016

"Fine, firmly unsentimental, bracingly muscular performances"
Guardian, November 2016

"Martyn Brabbins masterminds an expansive, ideally flexible and notably unflustered reading of Elgar's In the South, one which quarries this evocative score's plentiful reserves of noble grandeur, pantheistic wonder and vulnerability in a way that perceptively demonstrates its kinship with the First Symphony that was soon to follow."
Gramophone, November 2016

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"Sizzling and life-affirming": Listen again to Martyn Brabbins & the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra's Tippett Symphony No.1

01 December 2016

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BBC iPlayer

Martyn Brabbins made a triumphant return to the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in a critically-acclaimed performance of Tippett Symphony No.1 on 24 November 2016. The programme also included Haydn Symphony No.6 Le Matin and Ravel Piano Concerto in G with Jean-Efflam Bavouzet.

The performance, part of a two-year cycle in which Brabbins will conduct all of Tippett’s symphonies with the orchestra, was greeted with critical praise:

"… the drive and vigour of visiting conductor Martyn Brabbins….were there most of all in Tippett’s First Symphony, the opener in Brabbins’ two-season survey of all Tippett’s symphonies with the BBC SSO, as rugged as it was’s not an easy work to fall in love with immediately, but Brabbins drove his lean, muscular account forward with such bristling conviction that it swept away any doubts. Roll on the rest of his Tippett cycle."
The Scotsman, November 2016

“Martyn Brabbins’ sizzling and life-affirming performance on Thursday with the BBC SSO of Michael Tippett’s First Symphony…reflected every lesson I learned about this masterpiece many decades ago…. just let it play, open your ears, and listen…All of that, and much more, suffused the intellectual lucidity and near-elemental power of the SSO’s blistering performance, magisterially controlled by Brabbins at white heat.”
Herald Scotland, November 2016

The concert was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and is available on the BBC iPlayer until 24 December.

Brabbins returns to the BBC SSO in January 2017 conducting Birtwistle The last supper.

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Martyn Brabbins announced as Music Director of English National Opera

21 October 2016

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English National Opera

The appointment was announced today of Martyn Brabbins as Music Director of English National Opera, effective immediately, and running until August 2020. He will plan the 2018/19 and 2019/20 seasons together with the Artistic Director Daniel Kramer, and will conduct a production at ENO in 2017/18.
He last conducted at ENO in 2012, a production of Vaughan Williams’ The Pilgrim’s Progress to which he gave "wonderful breadth and assurance" (Guardian) and "exemplary musical direction" (Times).

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. His acclaimed performances of Tristan and Isolde with Grange Park Opera (2016) caused the Observer to describe him as "a musician’s musician, he can turn his hand with ease and perception to anything".

This season he conducts L’enfant et les sortilèges at the Opéra de Lyon, Raskatov’s A Dog’s Heart at Netherlands Opera, and Birtwistle’s Last Supper in concert with the BBC Scottish Symphony. Symphonic engagements include reinvitations to the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Deutsche Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony and BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Read the full press release on the ENO website

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Martyn Brabbins returns to Opera National de Lyon to conduct Ravel L’Enfant et les sortilèges

18 October 2016

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Opéra National de Lyon

Martyn Brabbins returns to Opéra National de Lyon to conduct four performances of Ravel L’enfant et les sortilèges from 1 to 4 November 2016. The innovative new production directed by Grégoire Pont uses light projection to capture fantasy of the music and story.

Brabbins previously conducted L’Enfant et les sortilèges at Lyon in 2012 and subsequently led the production at the Bayerische Staatsoper. His last appearance in Lyon, conducting Tchaikovsky Iolanta and Stravinsky Persephone in May 2016, received critical praise:

"the biggest praise must go to Martyn Brabbins – one of the few conductors who are as expert at Tchaikovsky’s lyricism as with Stravinsky’s abstract vigour. Stylistic precision vies with the accomplishment of a pit conductor – the dynamics were always controlled (the singers fully audible), delicate orchestral colours, appropriate tempi, a sense of the structure as a whole and of a unifying dramatic impetus."
ResMusica, May 2016

Brabbins was recently announced as Music Director of the English National Opera. His return to Lyon continues a busy start to the 2016/2017 season, in which he has already conducted the Symphony Orchestra of India in Mumbai, led the world premiere of Kalevi’s Double Concerto with Royal Flemish Philharmonic, and released a new recording of works by Elgar on Hyperion.

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Martyn Brabbins releases new recording of Elgar works on Hyperion Records

10 October 2016

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Hyperion Records

Martyn Brabbins and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra release their new recording of Elgar Enigma Variations and other works on 28 October 2016 on Hyperion Records, a label on which Brabbins has released over 50 discs to date.

The CD also features In the South ‘Alassio’ alongside lesser-known wartime works by Elgar including Carillon and Le drapeau belge, featuring Florence Daguerre de Hureaux as the narrator, Une voix dans le desert with Kate Royal, and Pleading with Yann Ghiro performing the solo clarinet.

Brabbins and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra performed the Elgar Enigma Variations in concert last year, a performance that received vast critical acclaim:

"A considerable achievement, dispatched with exquisite care by conductor Martyn Brabbins." 
Daily Telegraph, November 2015

Click here to listen to extracts on the Hyperion Records website. The disc is available to pre-order via iTunes here.

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Martyn Brabbins conducts world premiere of Kalevi Aho's Double Concerto with the Royal Flemish Philharmonic

07 October 2016

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Royal Flemish Philharmonic

Martyn Brabbins returns to the Royal Flemish Philharmonic on 21 October 2016 to conduct the world premiere of Kalevi Aho’s Double Concerto for Cor Anglais, Harp and Orchestra, paired with Shostakovich Symphony No.5

The concerto features soloists Dimitri Mestdag, principal Cor Anglais at the Royal Flemish Philharmonic, and Anneleen Lenaerts performing the harp. 

Earlier in October, Brabbins returns to the BBC Symphony Orchestra for a studio concert performance of Rubbra Symphony No.11, Grøndahl Trombone Concerto and Brian Symphony No.6 on the 11 October. This concert will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s ‘Afternoon on 3’.

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Martyn Brabbins & Kristóf Baráti join the Symphony Orchestra of India in Mumbai

29 August 2016

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Kristóf Baráti

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Symphony Orchestra of India

Martyn Brabbins and Kristóf Baráti travel to India this month to perform with the Symphony Orchestra of India at Jamshed Bhabha Theatre in Mumbai on 12 September 2016. Brabbins conducts a programme of Rossini The Thieving Magpie Overture, Brahms Symphony No. 1 and is joined by Baráti for Paganini Violin Concerto No.1.

Brabbins conducts the orchestra in a second concert at Jamshed Bhabha Theatre on 17 September, this time with a programme of Wagner Tannhäuser Overture and Holst The Planets.

Brabbins then returns to London where he conducts the BBC Singers in a programme of Britten, Harvey and the world premiere of Blossomings by Wim Henderickx at LSO St Luke’s on 23 September. 

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Intermusica at the Grafenegg Festival 2016

26 August 2016

Related profiles:
George Li
Renaud Capuçon
Brett Dean
HK Gruber

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Grafenegg Festival

George Li, Valentina Naforniţa and Renaud Capuçon all perform at Grafenegg Festival this summer, while composers Brett Dean and HK Gruber join the jury of the festival’s composer workshop concert, and Martyn Brabbins supports the workshop participants.

On 4 September, George Li joins the Mariinsky Orchestra and Valery Gergiev as soloist in Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.1. Later that day, Renaud Capuçon appears with Orchestre National de France and Christoph Eschenbach to perform Saint-Saëns Violin Concerto No.3.

Valentina Naforniţa sings Mozart concert arias with the Cologne Radio Orchestra and Jukka-Pekka Saraste on 8 September.

Brett Dean and HK Gruber return to the Festival to sit on the jury of its Ink Still Wet Composer-Conductor Workshop. With the support of the Tonkunstler Orchestra and Martyn Brabbins, contemporary composers will have their work showcased in the workshop’s closing concert on 5 September. Both Dean and Gruber have held the post of Composer-in-Residence at the festival in previous years.

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Watch Martyn Brabbins & the BBC Symphony Orchestra in Gramophone's Video of the Day

05 July 2016

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Gramophone Magazine

Gramophone Magazine’s Video of the Day for 5 July 2016 features Martyn Brabbins leading the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Rotterdam Symphony Chorus at Sint-Janskathedraal's-Hertogenbosch during the orchestra’s tour of the Netherlands in November 2015. Performing Howells Hymnus Paradisi, the concert features tenor Andrew Staples and soprano Sarah-Jane Brandon.

Martyn Brabbins conducted Hymnus Paradisi at the BBC Proms in 2012, a performance which was highly praised:

“Conductor Martyn Brabbins led a searching performance, which cut through to the heart of the work, delivering its meaning with a wonderful clarity.”

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Bryan Register debuts at Grange Park as Tristan with Martyn Brabbins

29 June 2016

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Bryan Register

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Grange Park Opera

Bryan Register makes his Grange Park Opera debut singing the title role in two concert performances of Wagner Tristan und Isolde on 13 and 17 July 2016. Register joins Rachel Nicholls, Clive Bayley, Sara Fulgoni and Stephen Gadd for the performances, which are conducted by Intermusica's Martyn Brabbins.

Register made his role debut as Tristan for Theater Kiel in 2014 to great critical acclaim:

“The audience celebrated with loud bravos… the Kiel production of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde comes with extraordinary voices… the public sat spellbound by what was offered in vocal power and might…by Bryan Register…”
Schleswig-Holsteinische Landeszeitung

The concerts mark a return to Grange Park Opera for Brabbins, having conducted Tchaikovsky Eugene Onegin there to great critical acclaim:

“Martyn Brabbins, in charge of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, finds the natural ebb and flow in Tchaikovsky’s score and is instinctive in his support of the cast.”

“[Martyn Brabbins] coaxed passionate playing from the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.”

Future highlights for Register include another Tristan at the Tokyo Nikikai Opera Theatre under the baton of Jesús Lopez Cobos, and his house debut at Oper Frankfurt as Enee in Berlioz Les Troyens.

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Martyn Brabbins conducts London Sinfonietta in cutting-edge programme at St John's Smith Square

18 May 2016

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London Sinfonietta

Martyn Brabbins leads the London Sinfonietta in a cutting-edge programme of 21st century music on 1 June 2016 at St John Smith Square. The evening includes the UK premiere of Francisco Coll Liquid Symmetries, and two world premieres – one of which is Five Lessons in a Frame by Harrison Birtwistle, a composer whose work Brabbins has enjoyed great success with:

"astonishing clarity and unerring sense of dramatic shape… the performance under Brabbins was in many respects exceptional.”
Guardian, May 2014 (Gawain, BBC Symphony Orchestra)

Brabbins, who last month was appointed Visiting Professor of Conducting at Royal College of Music, is well known for his support of new music – having conducted world premieres by leading international composers all over the world.

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Sir Willard White & Diana Montague join Martyn Brabbins for Iolanta at Opéra de Lyon

27 April 2016

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Sir Willard White

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Opéra de Lyon

Sir Willard White and Diana Montague return to Opéra de Lyon on 11 May to perform in Peter Sellars’ production of Iolanta, conducted by Martyn Brabbins. White and Montague sing the roles of Ibn-Hakia and Marthe alongside Ekaterina Scherbachenko, Dmitry Ulianov and Maxim Aniskin.

White's performance as Ibn-Hakia at the 2015 Festival d'Aix-en-Provence Festival was widely praised:

“Willard White caught the mesmerizing strangeness of the Moorish doctor Ibn-Hakia’s music.”
Opera, September 2015

“Willard White, always appreciated in Aix where he has been a regular for years, stands with a lot of presence and nobility in the somewhat ephemeral role of Arab physician”
Forum Opera, July 2015

"The mesmerising Ibn-Hakia [of] Willard White"
Res Musica, July 2015

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Martyn Brabbins makes debut at Hungarian State Opera with The Rake's Progress

23 March 2016

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Hungarian State Opera

Martyn Brabbins makes his debut with the Hungarian State Opera this month when he conducts Stravinsky The Rake’s Progress from 6 April 2016.

Brabbins enjoyed previous success with The Rake’s Progress with the Philharmonia Orchestra in Aldeburgh:

“It's the brilliance of Stravinsky's music, and the pacing and insight of Brabbins's conducting, that made this evening so rewarding”

Further performances take place on 8, 10, 13, 15 and 21 April.

Other opera productions for Brabbins this season include a return to Opera National de Lyon in May for a double bill of Tchaikovsky Iolanta and Stravinsky Persephone, and two performances of Tristan and Isolde at Grange Park Opera in July.

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Martyn Brabbins closes Barbican Centre's Andriessen series with La Commedia

29 January 2016

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Barbican Centre

Martyn Brabbins conducts the BBC Symphony Orchestra in a concert performance of Louis Andriessen’s La Commedia on 12 February, closing the Andriessen: M is for Man, Music & Mystery series at the Barbican Centre. The concert will be recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on 20 February

Brabbins’ operatic performances this season include The Rake’s Progress in Budapest, Tristan und Isolde at Grange Park Opera and a double bill of Tchaikovsky Iolante and Stravinsky Persephone at Opéra de Lyon.

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Martyn Brabbins steps in to conduct the WDR Sinfonieorchester in Britten’s War Requiem

04 November 2015

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WDR Sinfonieorchester

Martyn Brabbins replaces Semyon Bychkov in Cologne on 13 and 14 November, conducting the WDR Sinfonieorchester in Britten’s War Requiem on 13 and 14 November at the Kölner Philharmonie. This will be his debut with the WDR Sinfonieorchester. He is joined by the WDR Rundfunkchor, the Berlin Rundfunkchor, Koelner Domchor, and soloists Elza van der Heever, Andrew Staples and Hanno Mueller-Brachmann.

The concert will be broadcast on 18 November on WDR 3.

It is a work Brabbins has conducted many times, notably just one month ago with the Russian National Orchestra at the Moscow Conservatoire; this was his first collaboration with the RNO and he has already been invited back.

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Martyn Brabbins conducts concert for 75th anniversary of Battle of Britain with BBC Singers

04 September 2015

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BBC Singers at the RAF Museum

Martyn Brabbins conducts the BBC Singers in a commemorative programme of English and American music in honour of the 75th anniversary of The Battle of Britain on 18 September 2015. Brabbins leads the performance in the RAF Museum’s Historic Hangars, with repertoire including the world premiere of Three Spitfire Motets by Edward Cowie, Eric Whitacre’s musical portrayal of Leonardo Da Vinci’s flying-machine, and Gabriel Jackson's Airplane Cantata.

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Marytn Brabbins makes Rotterdam Philharmonic debut at Het Concertgebouw

16 August 2015

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Rotterdam Philharmonic

Martyn Brabbins makes his Rotterdam Philharmonic debut on 30 August 2015 at the Het Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, where he conducts the orchestra in a space-themed concert as part of the Robeco SummerNights series. Brabbins conducts a programme including Holst The Planets, Strauss Also sprach Zarathustra and Ligeti Atmosphères, accompanied by a NASA film. Brabbins’ interpretations of The Planets have previously elicited great acclaim, with the Independent observing:

“Brabbins and the orchestra gave the freshest of performances, full of keen detail and felicitous colouration. His blistering tempo for "Mars" was as good a sign as any of life on the red planet.”

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Martyn Brabbins: Concerts in Japan with the Nagoya Philharmonic

01 July 2015

Martyn Brabbins travels to Japan for four concerts with Nagoya Philharmonic beginning on 15 July 2015, where he is Chief Conductor. Brabbins and the orchestra perform at the NTK Hall Forest Hall (15 and 18 July) and at Aichi Arts Center (24 and 25 July).

Brabbins then returns to the UK for the St Endellion Summer Festival, where he conducts two performances of Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov at the Collegiate Church of St Endellion on 5 and 7 August. The cast features Sir John Tomlinson in the title role, alongside Brindley Sherratt, David Butt Philip and Jeffrey Lloyd Roberts.

It has been a busy summer of operatic engagements for Brabbins, who has just finished conducted at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition and also recently replaced Tugan Sokhiev at the last minute to conduct DSO Berlin in Martinů’s rarely heard one act opera Ariane alongside Dvorak String Serenade, to fantastic reviews:

“Brabbins encouraged the strings in Dvorák’s String Serenade to play as chamber musicians – i.e. paying utmost attention to each other’s parts. And the violins, violas, celli and basses succeeded brilliantly in breathing together and in carrying through the melodic lines even when their own group did not have the tune. Thus we heard intimate music-making, utterly gripping for the listener, drawing them in to relive this romantic scene-painting with complete concentration.”
Der Tagesspiegel, June 2015

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Martyn Brabbins steps in at Aldeburgh Festival with BBC Symphony Orchestra

18 June 2015

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Aldeburgh Festival

Martyn Brabbins conducts the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Aldeburgh Festival on 24 June 2015, replacing Principal Conductor Sakari Oramo at very short notice, in a sea-themed programme:

Sibelius: Oceanides Op.73
Grime: Everyone Sang
Mahler: Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen with soloist Alice Coote
Bridge: The Sea
Britten: Four Sea Interludes & Passacaglia with specially commissioned film by Tal Rosner

The concert will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 at 7.30pm on 24 June.

Brabbins has a long-standing relationship with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and is delighted to be able to step up, straight from conducting at the televised Cardiff Singer of the World final concert on the evening of Sunday 21 June. Brabbins gave the world premiere of Helen Grimes’ Everyone Sang and his studio recording of Bridge’s The Sea was featured on a BBC Music Magazine cover.

This follows his huge success with the DSO Berlin where, only a few days before, he stepped in at last minute to replace Chief Conductor Tughan Sokhiev to conduct Dvořák String Serenade and Martinu’s one-act opera Ariane, making his Berlin Philharmonie debut in the process. He has already been invited back. The critics were equally impressed:

"Brabbins has exactly the qualities one would wish for a Martinu rarity. A conductor who supports his musicians’ enthusiastic music-making with gentle yet definite gestures. A connoisseur of sound, who helps the musicians achieve an undreamt-of intimacy…The DSO showed its best side right from the start, in Dvorak’s string serenade, radiating glorious colours, fascinating us with its harmonious beauty and lilting rhythms. Brabbins’ Dvorak was deliciously entertaining – something to lean back and close one’s eyes to."
Berliner Morgenpost

"Brabbins encouraged the strings in Dvořák’s String Serenade to play as chamber musicians – i.e. paying utmost attention to each other’s parts. And the violins, violas, celli and basses succeeded brilliantly in breathing together and in carrying through the melodic lines even when their own group did not have the tune. Thus we heard intimate music-making, utterly gripping for the listener, drawing them in to relive this romantic scene-painting with complete concentration."
Der Tagesspiegel

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Martyn Brabbins conducts BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition

31 May 2015

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BBC Cardiff Singer of the World

Between 14 and 21 June 2015, Martyn Brabbins conducts the Welsh National Opera Orchestra at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition, supporting the vocal stars of the future in this high-profile showcase. Several Intermusica artists have competed in the past, with Valentina Nafornita winning First Prize in 2011 and Ben Johnson taking home the Audience Prize in 2013. The competition is always shared between the two Cardiff orchestras Welsh National Opera and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, which Jun Märkl conducted during the last competition in 2013. The competition will be broadcast on BBC radio and television.

Brabbins also records Kalevi Aho's trumpet and trombone concerti for BIS this month with the Royal Flemish Philharmonic, and continues his Sibelius cycle with the Nagoya Philharmonic alongside a new work by Dai Fujikura.

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Martyn Brabbins conducts Vaughan Williams Symphony No.5 at Newbury Festival

09 May 2015

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Newbury Spring Festival

Martyn Brabbins performs at the Newbury Spring Festival on 23 May, conducting a performance of Vaughan Williams Symphony No.5 with the Philharmonia.

This follows two other performance of British repertoire, with Brabbins conducting Holst The Planets, Finzi Clarinet Concerto and a new work by young composer Mark Bowden in Swansea on 17 April and at St David’s Hall, Cardiff, on 18 May. He will also conduct works of David Sawer with Birmingham Contemporary Music Group at Birmingham Town Hall on 9 May.

Brabbins will end the month at the Istanbul Festival, where he will conduct the Nash Ensemble in a programme featuring the works of Berlioz and Debussy.

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Martyn Brabbins steps in to conduct Royal Flemish Philharmonic

23 April 2015

Martyn Brabbins replaces Edo de Waart in two performances of Elgar’s oratorio The Kingdom with the Royal Flemish Philharmonic (of whom he is Principal Guest Conductor) at De Singel in Antwerp on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 April.

The cast includes Elizabeth DeShong, Edith Haller, John Daszak and Jeremy Carpenter, with the combined Flemish Radio and the Netherlands Radio choruses.

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Martyn Brabbins conducts Strauss’s Die Schweigsame Frau for his Aalto Theater Essen debut

28 February 2015

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Aalto Theater Essen

Martyn Brabbins conducts Strauss Die Schweigsame Frau in his debut at the Aalto Theater Essen on 14 March. The new production of Richard Strauss's only comic opera is directed by Guy Joosten and opens on 14 March, with subsequent performances on 17, 19, 22 March, 1, 4, 19, 22 and 30 April.

On 28 March, in between opera performances, he conducts Kalevi Aho’s new Trombone Concerto with Joergen Van Rijen at the Royal Flemish Philharmonic’s contemporary music festival in De Roma, Antwerp, coupled with Sanstroem’s tuba concerto and Wim Henderickx’s Percussion Concerto.

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Martyn Brabbins conducts Wagner in concert with the Nagoya Philharmonic

16 January 2015

Martyn Brabbins conducts The Valkyries Act 1 in concert with the Nagoya Philharmonic on 30 and 31 January, starring Susan Bullock.

Brabbins is Chief Conductor of the Nagoya Philharmonic, and this follows his and Susan Bullock's Wagner collaboration in his first concerts as Chief Conductor in July 2013.

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Martyn Brabbins: concerts with Royal Philharmonic, BBC Scottish and Royal Flemish Orchestras

28 October 2014

Following his performances in Japan with Nagoya Philharmonic and Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, Martyn Brabbins returns to the United Kingdom to conduct the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Cadogan Hall on 11 November. The concert features a programme of Brahms Symphony No.1, the prelude from Wagner Die Meistersinger and Strauss Vier Letzte Lieder with soloist Eleanor Dennis.

Brabbins then travels to Glasgow for a concert with BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra for a programme including MacMillan Piano Concerto No.3 and Shostakovich Symphony No.5. Brabbins has regularly conducted the BBCSSOm and their last performance, in September of this year, received critical acclaim:

"He opened with a clear, ungushy account of Wagner's Siegried Idyll: the playing was light, the inner parts lucid, the strings beautifully soft and grainy. The programme closed with a sober, thoughtful account of Elgar's Enigma Variations. There was no syrupy veneer; the sound was dark and gravelly, there was anguish to the opening theme and unusual weight to many of the variations. Nimrod was quietly emphatic; the finale was stately and cathartic."
Guardian, September 2014

Brabbins brings the month to a close in Antwerp, conducting two concerts on 28 and 29 November with Royal Flemish Philharmonic, where he is Principal Guest Conductor. Alongside works by Celis, Britten and Shostakovich, Brabbins will conduct the world premiere of Wim Hendricx's Oboe Concerto with soloist Piet van Bockstal, for whom the piece was written.

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Martyn Brabbins conducts Tokyo Metropolitan Orchestra at Suntory Hall

12 October 2014

Martyn Brabbins returns to the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony for an adventurous pair of programmes, on 26 October and 4 November, featuring Walton's two symphonies. On 26 October he conducts Walton Symphony No.1 at Suntory Hall, preceded by Vaughan Williams Norfolk Rhapsody No.1 and Britten Piano Sonata with Steven Osborne. On 4 November he will conduct Walton Symphony No.1, Vaughan Williams Norfolk Rhapsody No. 2 and Delius Violin Concerto with Chloe Hanslip at Tokyo Metropolitan.

He will split these two concerts with a performance in Nagoya on 30 October. The concert features the Japanese premiere of Kalevi Aho Trombone Concerto, and the world premiere of a new work by Composer in Residence Dai Fujikura. The programme is completed by Beethoven Symphony No.1 in C major and Shostakovich Symphony No.1 in F minor.

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Martyn Brabbins conducts BBC Symphony at the BBC Proms

18 July 2014

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BBC Proms

Martyn Brabbins makes a return to the Proms on 1 August, leading the BBC Symphony Orchestra in a programme of English Music at the Royal Albert Hall. He will conduct Gurney’s War Elegy, Walton Symphony No.1 and the London premiere of Sally Beamish’s Accordion Concerto with soloist James Crabbe, for whom the piece was originally commissioned by the Cheltenham Festival when Brabbins was Artistic Director.

Brabbins then travels up to Scotland to record the Accordion Concerto for BIS with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra as part of a whole Beamish disc, shared with the National Youth Orchestra for Scotland who will record Beamish’s Trumpet Concerto, also under his direction.

Brabbins’ performance of the Walton symphony promises to be a highlight of this year’s Proms season; his recording of this work in 2011 with the BBC Scottish Symphony on Hyperion received excellent reviews:

“Martyn Brabbins, excelling himself, directs a reading that far more than usual conveys comparable electricity, helped by superb playing from the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and a vivid recording quality. To complete the picture, this account of the First even rivals the classic Previn version of the 1960s.”
Gramophone, Editor’s Choice, December 2011 

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Martyn Brabbins leads BBC Symphony Orchestra in Gawain with Leigh Melrose in title role

02 May 2014

Related profiles:
Leigh Melrose

Martyn Brabbins returns to the Barbican to conduct the BBC Symphony Orchestra in a concert performance of Harrison Birtwistle’s Gawain on 16 May as part of the composer’s 80th birthday celebration. Leigh Melrose sings the title role in Birtwistle’s groundbreaking opera, and performs opposite Sir John Tomlinson as The Green Knight.

A seasoned conductor of Birtwistle, Brabbins's recording of the composer's The Mask of Orpheus with the BBCSO was the winner of a Gramophone Award. Brabbins is currently mid-way through a series of performances of Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle at Vlaamse Opera, which opened on 11 April and runs until 10 May.

Melrose’s performance further contributes to his reputation as a formidable performer of contemporary music, Melrose ends the season as Vicomte de Valmont in Luca Francesconi’s Quartett at the Linbury Studio Theatre, Royal Opera House. He then performs Matthias Pintscher’s Songs from Solomon’s Garden at this year’s Lucerne Festival, a work which he debuted in 2013 with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

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Martyn Brabbins conducts Bartók Bluebeard's Castle at Vlaamse Opera

28 March 2014

Martyn Brabbins returns once more to Vlaamse Opera this April to lead 11 performances of Bartók Bluebeard's Castle, opening on 11 April. The performances are part of a special double bill with Schubert’s Winterreise staged by Kornel Mundruczo. Brabbins will split his time between two cities, with five performances in Gent on 11, 13, 15, 18 and 19 April, and six performances in Antwerp on 30 April, 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 May.

Brabbins enjoys a strong regular relationship with Vlaamse Opera, premiering Christan Jost’s Rumors with them in 2012, and led a production of Wozzeck in 2009 that received critical acclaim:

“If this performance of the Vlaamse Opera Symphonic Orchestra is exemplary of his work, then there are some exciting times ahead in Antwerp.”
De Volkskrant, five stars 

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Intermusica represents Martyn Brabbins worldwide

Susie Mcleod
Director, Artist Management
+44 20 7608 9920

Kimberley Bourlet
Assistant Artist Manager
+44 20 7608 9943

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