David Charles Abell
David Charles Abell
|Birth name||David Charles Abell|
|Born||1958 (age 62–63)|
Jacksonville, North Carolina, U.S.
|Genres||Symphonic music, opera, musical theatre|
David Charles Abell (born 1958) is an American orchestral conductor active in symphonic music, opera and musical theatre. Known for his television appearances worldwide as conductor of the Les Misérables 10th and 25th Anniversary concerts, he is recognised as an authoritative interpreter of the musicals of Stephen Sondheim and maintains an active international opera career.
Early years and education
Born in Jacksonville, North Carolina, Abell was raised in the Philadelphia and Chicago areas, studying viola, piano, organ, trumpet and voice. As a member of the Berkshire Boy Choir, he sang in the 1971 world premiere of Leonard Bernstein's Mass at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The experience sparked his interest in theatrical compositions and fuelled a lasting passion for dramatic music.
In 1976, Abell enrolled at Yale University, where his teachers included John Mauceri and Rob Kapilow. He studied with Nadia Boulanger and Robert D. Levin at the American Conservatory in Fontainebleau before returning to Yale to complete his B.A. in 1981. The following year, Abell participated in the inaugural Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute summer school, studying with Bernstein and Daniel Lewis. He continued his postgraduate training from 1983 to 1985 at the Juilliard School, under Jorge Mester and Sixten Ehrling.
One of Leonard Bernstein's last protégés, he assisted the composer-conductor on many projects during the 1980s and helped prepare definitive editions of Bernstein's musical theatre scores.
Early professional life
Abell made his professional debut conducting Bernstein's Mass at Berlin's Deutschlandhalle in 1982. The following year he deputised at short notice for John Mauceri conducting Britten's The Turn of the Screw at Washington National Opera. In 1985 he made his New York City Opera debut conducting The Mikado. Abell led San Francisco Opera's 1989 national tour of Carmen and was conductor for City Opera's national tour of The Barber of Seville in 1994.
Since moving to London in 1996, Abell has conducted orchestras in the UK and abroad, including The Hallé, City of Birmingham, Bournemouth, London Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Seattle Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Iceland Symphony and West Australian Symphony orchestras. He is a regular guest conductor with the BBC Concert Orchestra, with whom he has appeared five times at the Proms.
The driving force behind Stephen Sondheim's 80th birthday celebration at the 2010 BBC Proms, Abell subsequently conducted the 25th anniversary concert of Les Misérables at the O2 Arena, which has been seen worldwide on television and released on DVD. Both the 25th and 10th Anniversary concerts have been extensively broadcast by PBS to boost fund-raising efforts.
Abell was Music Director of the West End production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Love Never Dies from its opening in March 2010 until March 2011. Between 2011 and 2014, he conducted the French premieres of four Sondheim musicals: Follies at the Opéra de Toulon, Sweeney Todd and Sunday in the Park with George and Into the Woods at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.
Abell conducted London's Laurence Olivier Awards ceremony from 2011 to 2014. He has appeared twice at English National Opera, conducting Sweeney Todd with Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson in 2015 and Carousel with Alfie Boe and Katherine Jenkins in 2017.
A regular guest conductor with the Philly Pops since his debut in 2013, Abell released a Christmas CD with them in 2015 and was appointed Principal Guest Conductor of the organization in 2017. He was named Music Director and Principal Conductor in February, 2020. He made his Boston Pops debut in 2016 with an all-Gershwin concert.
As a musicologist, Abell has helped restore clarity to musical theatre scores affected by accretions of revival productions and poorly preserved source materials, notably West Side Story. Along with pianist and musicologist Seann Alderking, he edited a complete edition of Cole Porter's Kiss Me, Kate, published in 2014. It is one of the first American musicals to be published in a critical edition.
|2014||Something's Gotta Give||CD: Chandos Records||Simon Keenlyside, Scarlett Strallen, BBC Concert Orchestra|
|2013||Forever||CD: Warner Classics/Erato Records||Diana Damrau, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic|
|2010||Les Misérables||DVD: Universal Studios||25th Anniversary Concert|
Alfie Boe, Nick Jonas, Ramin Karimloo, Lea Salonga
|Tobias and the Angel||CD: Chandos Records||World Premiere Recording|
|2005||Strauss: Dance and Dream||DVD: Euroarts||Concert and Docudrama|
|2004||The Little Prince||CD, DVD: Sony Music||World Premiere Recording|
Joseph McManners, Teddy Tahu Rhodes, Lesley Garrett, Willard White, Aled Jones, BBC Concert Orchestra
An Enchanted Evening
|DVD: Image Entertainment||Drury Lane Centennial Concert|
Judi Dench, Lesley Garrett, Kim Criswell
|2000||Man of La Mancha||CD: Jay Records||First Complete Recording|
BBC Concert Orchestra
Ron Raines, Kim Criswell
|1996||Martin Guerre||CD: First Night Records||World Premiere Recording|
|Les Misérables||CD: First Night Records
DVD: BBC Video
|10th Anniversary Concert|
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Colm Wilkinson, Philip Quast, Michael Ball, Alun Armstrong, Ruthie Henshall
|La bohème (selections)
Madama Butterfly (selections)
|CD: Tring Records||Royal Philharmonic Orchestra|
Claire Rutter, Paul Charles Clarke, Stephen Gadd
|1994||Miss Saigon||CD: First Night Records||Complete International Symphonic Cast Recording|
Joanna Ampil, Peter Cousens, Kevin Gray, Hinton Battle, Ruthie Henshall
|1992||Les Misérables||CD: Disques Tréma||Paris Cast Recording|
Robert Marien, Louise Pitre, Jérôme Pradon, Stephanie Martin
- E[dwards], A[drian]. "Schönberg Les Misérables", Gramophone magazine, August, 1996. Retrieved on October 19, 2011.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-09-07. Retrieved 2011-10-20.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Nice, David. "Stephen Sondheim At 80, Royal Albert Hall", The Arts Desk, August 1, 2010. Retrieved on October 20, 2011.
- Millington, Barry. "Masters and servants at the Proms", The Evening Standard, August 2, 2010. Retrieved on October 19, 2011.
- Ford, Piers. "Interview with David Charles Abell, Conductor of the 2010 Sondheim Prom", The Art of the Torch Singer, January 6, 2011. Retrieved on October 19, 2011.
- "Conductor David Charles Abell Prepares For A Season of Sondheim", Broadwayworld.com, June 11, 2010. Retrieved on October 19, 2011.
- Billington, Michael. "The Water Diviner's Tale", The Guardian, August 28, 2007. Retrieved on October 19, 2011.
- Jensen, Elizabeth. "In Tight Times, PBS Leans on Pledge Drives", The New York Times, March 13, 2010. Retrieved on October 20, 2011.
- Benedict, David. "Love Never Dies", Variety, March 10, 2010. Retrieved on October 20, 2011.
- Seckerson, Edward. "Love Never Dies...twice Archived 2012-06-14 at the Wayback Machine", The Independent, January 16, 2011. Retrieved on October 20, 2011.
- Loomis, George. "Châtelet's 'Sweeney Todd' Stays True to Detailed Musical Roots", The New York Times, May 3, 2011. Retrieved on October 19, 2011.
- "David Charles Abell: ‘The Châtelet production of SWEENEY TODD is allowing me to fulfil a long-held dream", Todomusicales, April 1, 2011. Retrieved on October 19, 2011.
- Benzel, Jan. "Supersizing a 'Sunday in the Park'" The New York Times, April 18, 2013. Retrieved on April 30, 2013.
- Gioia, Michael and Ly-Cuong, Stéphane. "The Screening Room: Highlights from Théâtre du Châtelet's Into the Woods in Paris (Video)" Playbill, April 15, 2014. Retrieved on May 10, 2014.
- "Philly POPS Releases New Christmas Album", The Philly Pops, December 15, 2015. Retrieved on February 23, 2020.
- "David Charles Abell named Principal Guest Conductor of the Philly POPS", The Philly Pops, September 21, 2017. Retrieved on February 23, 2020.
- "David Charles Abell replaces Todd Ellison", Philadelphia Inquirer, February 12, 2020. Retrieved on February 23, 2020.
- "Kiss Me, Kate Critical Edition Now Available". Tams Witmark Music Library. Retrieved 2018-04-28.