Conductor David Charles Abell was born in North Carolina, went to nursery school in New York and came to Philadelphia, his mother’s hometown, at the age of five. He attended Germantown Friends School for seven years, then moved to the Chicago area with his family. Having lived and worked in several different countries since that time, he now resides in London. Following three years of conducting Christmas Spectacular, he is thrilled be returning to the Philly POPS to perform some of the Broadway music that started his career back in the 1980s.
At the age of 12, David joined the Berkshire Boy Choir, which was chosen to participate in the world premiere of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass at Washington’s Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. David met Bernstein again while attending Yale University and assisted him on various projects during the last years of his life. After completing his studies at the Conservatoire Américain in France and the Juilliard School, he made his professional conducting debut in Berlin with Bernstein’s Mass. His association with Bernstein’s music continues: he recently served as Musical Supervisor for Candide in London and has been asked by Bernstein’s children to serve on the committee marking the centennial of the composer’s birth.
David is most widely known for the two Les Misérables Anniversary Concerts (10th and 25th), both of which have become PBS fund-raising perennials. He regularly appears on radio and television in the UK, most notably at the BBC Proms, London’s annual music festival at the Royal Albert Hall. These appearances have included the Richard Rodgers Centenary celebration (2002), a world premiere opera (2007), Stephen Sondheim’s 80th birthday (2010) and the War Horse Prom (2014).
Classical music, opera and musical theater all contribute to a diverse career, unified by a serious yet theatrical approach. Recent projects include his Boston Pops debut with an all-Gershwin program, two European productions of Kiss Me, Kate (in his own critical edition), live accompaniment to the film Brief Encounter with the London Philharmonic, Carmen in Kansas City, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning opera Silent Night in Detroit.