Born in 1959, the English conductor Martyn Brabbins describes himself as a late bloomer. Besides having played in several brass bands, he had little stage experience before going to study conducting with Ilya Musin at the Leningrad Conservatory in 1986.
On his return to the UK, he won the 1988 Leeds Conductors Competition. After standing in with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra that same year, his career took off. Within just a few years, Brabbins had conducted most of the large and small ensembles in Great Britain and Ireland, and had made guest appearances with all the BBC orchestras.
He has recorded many works by contemporary Scottish composers and has also played a major role as a conductor in Hyperion’s extensive Romantic Piano Concerto series. Brabbins held the position of associate conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra from 1994 to 2005 and was subsequently appointed principal conductor of the contemporary music ensemble Sinfonia 21.
He served as artistic director of the Cheltenham Music Festival from 2005 to 2007, and was appointed principal guest conductor of the Royal Flemish Philharmonic in 2009 and chief conductor of the Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra in 2013. He is the founder of The Festival Players and a co-founder of a training course for aspiring conductors in Orkney.
Brabbins conducts a great deal of British music, including lesser-known works, such as Elgar’s The Kingdom, of which he led the Royal Flemish Philharmonic in its first performance. Brabbins is a welcome guest at the BBC Proms and has conducted many other of the world’s leading orchestras. He first led the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in the 2012 AAA Festival dedicated to the theme Layers.