x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

UAE maestro swaps currencies for soothing symphonies

The Life: Martyn Bagnall, who is also the regional head of human resources at Deutsche Bank, prepares to conduct a 150-member chorus and orchestra tomorrow in Dubai.

Martyn Bagnall previously conducted the Dubai Divas and was musical director of Dubai Singers. Courtesy Deutsche Bank
Martyn Bagnall previously conducted the Dubai Divas and was musical director of Dubai Singers. Courtesy Deutsche Bank

Martyn Bagnall is the head of human resources at Deutsche Bank Middle East and North Africa. A classically trained musician, he is preparing to conduct a 150-member chorus and orchestra tomorrow in Dubai.


From musician to banker? How did that happen?

I initially trained at Trinity College in London; that's where it all kicked off. Decision-making time came pretty soon after graduation - whether to take the music route or the more sensible route that would earn me a crust. So I ended up in HR rather than a full-time music career. I studied a wide range of music at college [including] baroque and Renaissance and all the weird and wonderful instruments that go with that. I joined Deutsche Bank in London and worked there until March 2007, when I moved to Dubai.


Did you immediately pick up your baton upon arriving in the UAE?

I was initially a bit despondent about what was going on musically in Dubai. But after I scratched the surface, I found there were lots of extremely talented people in the UAE. I started conducting the Dubai Divas, talented lady singers. Then, in 2009, I was appointed musical director of Dubai Singers, which has been going for about the same length of time the UAE has. That led to various other things. I got to conduct a choir for the opening of the Meydan racetrack and a symphony orchestra at the Dubai Literary Festival in March 2011 - which was very exciting as usually I do choral rather than orchestral.


How did Deutsche Bank come to put on concerts?

As with most multinationals, Deutsche Bank has a corporate and social responsibility programme [and one area] fosters creativity and innovation in arts. Naturally, given my musical background, I suggested Deutsche Bank sponsor a concert. Instead, we mounted a concert: in May 2010, we held our first concert - the first in the region to be presented by a bank. It was held at the American University in Dubai in a 900-seater auditorium and it was completely sold out. Our clients thought it was great and said do put another one on.


Tell me about tomorrow's performance

There are about 85 to 90 musicians in the choir from the GCC - everyone sings in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Dubai, but there are also singers from Bahrain, Muscat and even a couple of people from Riyadh. They do it for love. The orchestra is a string symphony orchestra drawn exclusively from the UAE. Min Yang, a renowned violinist, will lead the orchestra. The three pieces we are presenting are very romantic and easily accessible.


The concert will take place in the main auditorium of the American University in Dubai tomorrow at 8pm. Tickets are available through www.timeouttickets.com.

lgutcher@thenational.ae