To no great surprise, it’s Martyn Brabbins.
An Ilya Musin pupil in St Petersburg, Brabbins is a greatly experienced guest conductor. But at 57 he has only once ever been principal conductor, at an orchestra in Japan.
He succeeds Mark Wigglesworth, who resigned over artistic shrinkage. Under the rosiest of glasses it still looks like a makeshift appointment. The search for a new music director was neither wide nor well-informed. Brabbins will hold the fort for three years. He will conduct just one opera in the first of these years.
That gives him very little chance to instil confidence or exert authority.
ENO remains in trouble, creatively as much as financially.
Press release follows.
English National Opera (ENO) has today, 21 October 2016, announced that British conductor Martyn Brabbins will become Music Director of the Company with immediate effect.
An inspirational force in British music, Martyn Brabbins has had a busy opera career since his early days at the Kirov and more recently at La Scala, the BayerischeStaatsoper, and regularly in Lyon, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Antwerp. He is a popular figure at the BBC Proms and with most of the leading British orchestras, and regularly conducts top international orchestras, returning to the Royal Concertgebouw, Tokyo Metropolitan and Deutsche Sinfonieorchester Berlin this season. Known for his advocacy of British composers, he has conducted hundreds of world premieres across the globe. He has recorded over 120 CDs to date, including prize-winning discs of operas by Korngold, Birtwistle and Harvey. He was Associate Principal Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra 1994-2005, Principal Guest Conductor of the Royal Flemish Philharmonic 2009-2015, Chief Conductor of the Nagoya Philharmonic 2012-2016, and Artistic Director of the Cheltenham International Festival of Music 2005-2007, and has this season taken up a new position as Visiting Professor at the Royal College of Music.
Brabbins’s performances of The Pilgrim’s Progress at ENO (2012) were conducted with “wonderful breadth and assurance” (The Guardian) and The Times praised his “exemplary musical direction”. His acclaimed performances of Tristan and Isoldewith 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.”
The appointment runs until August 2020, and Brabbins will plan the 18/19 and 19/20 seasons together with ENO’s Artistic Director, Daniel Kramer. We are delighted that Brabbins will already be able to conduct one opera production (title to be announced) in 2017/8.
Speaking of his appointment to ENO from 21 October 2016, Martyn Brabbins said: “With an orchestra and chorus of such exceptional calibre, and a musical legacy nurtured by the finest British conductors, from Reginald Goodall through to Mark Wigglesworth, I feel incredibly honoured to have been invited to join ENO and to become a part of this treasured British musical company. It is quite an act to follow, and in a tough financial climate, but I am determined that ENO will continue to produce stimulating operatic performances of the highest musical quality at the London Coliseum. I look forward to working with Daniel, Cressida, and with my dedicated and hugely knowledgeable colleagues in every department at ENO to achieve this.”
Daniel Kramer, Artistic Director of ENO said: “I am very happy that Martyn will soon be at my side, leading this daring company. He is an inspirational conductor and leader, and I am looking forward to collaborating with him immensely. His most recent work with ENO, conducting Vaughan Williams’sA Pilgrim’s Progress in 2012, was fantastically received and he is highly respected by both musicians and the company. His experience and expertise, particularly in new and contemporary repertoire, will allow us to continue to develop the exceptional music-making for which ENO is known.”
Cressida Pollock, Chief Executive Officer of ENO added:
“I am really looking forward to welcoming Martyn to complete ENO’s artistic team. His wealth of knowledge and experience will be invaluable in supporting our award-winning Orchestra and Chorus, and in ensuring that we continue to make opera of the highest quality accessible to the widest possible audience.”