Mark Abel

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Mark Abel
Mark Abel, composer
Born Mark Abel
(1948-04-28)April 28, 1948
Hartford, CT
Nationality American
Occupation composer
Years active 1999-present
Known for The Dream Gallery
Style Classical Music

Mark Abel (born 1948) is an American composer of classical music. His work – cast primarily as a flexible rethinking of the art song tradition — is marked by straightforward tonal language, striking vocal writing and avoidance of academic compositional techniques. Abel describes his idiom as a post-modern synthesis of classical and rock. He writes his own lyrics.


After a brief stay at Stanford University in the late 1960s, Abel was active on the New York rock scene during the 1970s and early ‘80s, leading his own groups, producing the influential bands The Feelies and The Bongos, and playing on albums of Tom Verlaine and former Left Banke mastermind Michael Brown (rock musician). He returned to California in 1983 and worked in mainstream journalism for two decades, eventually becoming foreign editor of the San Francisco Chronicle. He moved away from rock during that period, immersed himself in classical and gradually began developing his hybridized style.

Four CDs of Abel's music have appeared in recent years. The self-released Journey Long, Journey Far [1] and Songs of Life, Love and Death[2] attracted little notice. But The Dream Gallery,[3] a 69-minute song cycle for seven soloists and chamber orchestra depicting the lives of imaginary archetypal Californians, caught the interest of celebrated pianist Carol Rosenberger, director of the Delos Productions label, leading to its recording by USC Thornton conductor Sharon Lavery[4] and the La Brea Sinfonietta.

Delos’ release of Gallery in early 2012 began to bring Abel’s music to a wider audience. The record garnered considerable acclaim, with notices ranging from “profound and compelling”[5] and “not much like anything else out there, … most highly recommended”[6] to “anyone who is interested in modern vocal music will want to own this disc.”[7]

In the fall of 2013, Abel's song “The Benediction” appeared on Stopping By [8] the debut CD of New York tenor Kyle Bielfield. The song, commissioned by Bielfield after hearing The Dream Gallery, explores Abel's feelings about the uneasy state of socially divided America.[9]

Abel's second recording for Delos, Terrain of the Heart,[10] a collection of art song cycles for voice and piano, was released in February 2014. It features three recitalists from the Los Angeles classical scene — sopranos Jamie Chamberlin[11] and Ariel Pisturino,[12] and pianist Victoria Kirsch.[13]


  • Global Music Awards - "Award of Excellence" for the lyrics in The Dream Gallery [14]
  • Global Music Awards - "Award of Merit" for "creativity/originality" [14]



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