Mark Abel, composer
April 28, 1948
Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.
|Known for||The Dream Gallery|
Mark Abel (born April 28, 1948) is an American composer of classical music.
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 1980s, leading his own groups, producing the bands The Feelies and The Bongos, and playing on albums of Tom Verlaine and former Left Banke mastermind Michael Brown. 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.
Six CDs of Abel's music have appeared in the past dozen years. The self-released Journey Long, Journey Far  and Songs of Life, Love and Death attracted little notice. But The Dream Gallery, a 69-minute song cycle for seven soloists and chamber orchestra depicting the lives of imaginary archetypal Californians, caught the interest of pianist Carol Rosenberger, director of the Delos Productions label, leading to its recording by USC Thornton conductor Sharon Lavery 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” and “not much like anything else out there, … most highly recommended” to “anyone who is interested in modern vocal music will want to own this disc.”
In the fall of 2013, Abel's “The Benediction” appeared on Stopping By, the debut CD of New York tenor Kyle Bielfield. The song explores Abel's feelings about the uneasy state of socially divided America.
Abel's second recording for Delos, Terrain of the Heart, 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 and Ariel Pisturino, and pianist Victoria Kirsch.
The record was praised as "art song at a high-water mark of invention"  and for its "emotional directness and stylistic unpredictability." The Journal of Singing called "The Dark-Eyed Chameleon" cycle "captivating and important," adding that it "holds its own" with some of the most revered tragic cycles of Schubert, Schumann and Mahler.
In March 2016, Delos Productions released the double-CD package Home Is A Harbor — consisting of Abel's first opera (of the same name) and the song cycle "The Palm Trees are Restless," a setting of verses by Los Angeles poet Kate Gale sung by Grammy-winning soprano Hila Plitmann.
Gramophone (magazine) commented “Abel employs a colorful blend of styles … (that) serve the emotional nature of each work to bracing and poignant effect. Abel’s lucid narrative and vibrant vocal lines, combined with telling orchestrations for a chamber ensemble, make (“Harbor”) an affecting experience. The brilliant soprano Hila Plitmann manages every leap and switch of emotional gears (in “Palm Trees”) with fearless commitment, and pianist Tali Tadmor matches her in power and subtlety.”
Richard Sininger of American Record Guide wrote that the recording showed Abel to be “at the forefront of (California's) musical life.”
While “Home Is a Harbor” awaits a staged production, Plitmann and Tadmor gave the world premiere of “The Palm Trees Are Restless” on Oct. 1, 2016, at the Boston Court Performing Arts Center in Pasadena, Ca.
Plitmann has continued her support of Abel’s music since then, premiering another Abel-Gale collaboration, the concert aria “Those Who Loved Medusa,” at a Dec. 10, 2017, concert at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica.
She recorded that piece and two other Abel works – “In the Rear View Mirror, Now” and “The Benediction” – for the composer’s fourth Delos release, Time and Distance, which appeared in March 2018. The album also includes two pieces written for mezzo-soprano Janelle DeStefano – the song cycle “The Ocean of Forgiveness,” a setting of poems by Joanne Regenhardt, and “The Invocation.” The “Ocean” cycle took the Honorable Mention in the 2018 Art Song Competition held by the National Association of Teachers of Singing.
- Global Music Awards - "Award of Excellence" for the lyrics in The Dream Gallery 
- Global Music Awards - "Award of Merit" for "creativity/originality" 
- Time and Distance (2018)
- Home Is A Harbor (2016)
- Terrain of the Heart (2014)
- The Dream Gallery (2012)
- Journey Long, Journey Far (2008)
- Songs of Life, Love and Death (2006)
- Robert Collier. "Journey Long, Journey Far". Cdbaby.com. Retrieved 2017-10-26.
- "Songs of Life, Love and Death". Cdbaby.com. Retrieved 2017-10-26.
- The Dream Gallery
- Sharon Lavery
- "Concerto Net Review". Concertonet.com. 2012-04-24. Retrieved 2017-10-26.
- AllMusic Review by James Manheim (2012-03-26). "Allmusic Review". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 2017-10-26.
- Fanfare Magazine[dead link]
- Stopping By
- "Stopping By Liner Notes" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-10-26.
- Terrain of the Heart
- "Jamie Chamberlin". Laopera.org. 2012-05-02. Retrieved 2017-10-26.
- Vision, Spacious (2013-10-22). "Ariel Pisturino". Spaciousvision.com. Retrieved 2017-10-26.
- "Victoria Kirsch". Archive.is. 2014-03-05. Archived from the original on 2014-03-05. Retrieved 2017-10-26.
- Classical Modern Music Reviewl[dead link]
- "Opera News Terrain of the Heart Feature". Operanews.com. 2014-01-08. Retrieved 2017-10-26.
- Journal of Singing Review
- Home is A Harbor Recording
- "Gramophone Magazine Quote". Reader.exacteditions.com. Retrieved 2017-10-26.
- "American Record Guide" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-10-26.
- "Hila Plitmann Premieres The Palm Trees Are Restless". laurislist.net. 2016-10-07. Retrieved 2017-10-26.
- "Hila Plitmann Premieres Those Who Loved Medusa". culturespotla.com. 2017-11-27. Retrieved 2017-11-27.
- "Delos Releases Time and Distance". delosmusic.com. 2018-03-09. Retrieved 2018-03-09.
- "NATS 2018 Art Song Composition Award". nats.org. 2018-02-18. Retrieved 2018-02-18.
- "The Global Music Awards". Thegma.net. Retrieved 2017-10-26.
- Official website
- Meet Mark Abel - Delos
- Global Music Awards
- Richmond Confidential features The Dream Gallery
- California dreamin’ comes full circle in new ‘art’ album - La Jolla Light
- KCET - Mark Abel: A Contemporary Voice in Classical Music
- The Right Human Blog
- Opera Lively Interviews Composers Mark Abel