MASTER OF HIS TRADE - Remembering Allan Littlemore

Issue 6082

COVID ROADMAP - Optimism at route out of restrictions

COMPOSER CAST - Christopher Bond meets Naomi Styles

Martyn Brabbins on drive-in opera, his banding roots and reconnecting

Sunday 21 February, 2021


Acclaimed conductor Martyn Brabbins has enjoyed a fast-paced international career, taking to the stage with many of the world’s finest ensembles. Throughout his successes, Martyn has never forgotten his roots in the brass band world.

As he begins a new role with students at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Martyn speaks to British Bandsman editor Mark Good about drive-in opera, his early musical memories and rekindling his connections with the world of brass bands. 


The cars pulled up in their droves, their occupants bristling with anticipation. In front of them, the stage was set, the cast poised like a coiled spring. Audience members didn’t even have to get out their vehicles. Instead, they sat back, tuned their stereos to the correct frequency and – hey presto – drive-in opera was born.

Such is life for music fans in the midst of a global pandemic. The ingenuity was the work of English National Opera and its music director, Martyn Brabbins, who took the podium for most of the La Bohème shows at Alexandra Palace in September last year.

Martyn reflected: “We did a drive-in La Bohème on a full festival stage with all the regalia; full cast, full chorus, and lots of cars in the audience who showed their appreciation by honking their horns. It was broadcast on Sky Arts and I'm sure it's still available. It was very successful.


Access the full feature by subscribing to British Bandsman today.