Press Release • February 12, 2020

The Philly POPS announced today the appointment of David Charles Abell as Music Director and Principal Conductor. Abell made his debut with the POPS in 2013 with his unforgettable presentations of A Philly POPS Christmas: Spectacular Sounds of the Season. He was appointed Principal Guest Conductor in 2017 and will enter his eighth season with the POPS for the 2020–2021 Bright Lights! Big City! season.

First as Guest Conductor and then Principal Guest Conductor, Abell created and conducted Cole Porter’s Broadway: Too Darn HotLenny’s RevolutionBlockbuster Broadway, and A Philly POPS Christmas in 2013, 2014, 2015, returning for a record-setting run of A Philly POPS Christmas in 2019.

Throughout his seven-year history with the POPS, Abell has worked with POPS in Schools by visiting area schools, conducting masterclasses, and in creating performance opportunities for students. He has worked with Germantown Friends School (his alma mater), The Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA), Girard Academic Music Program (GAMP), All City Choir, and more.  

His significant career achievements include the worldwide TV broadcasts of Les Misérables 10th and 25th Anniversaries; recordings of Miss SaigonMan of La ManchaLa bohème, and Madama Butterfly; five appearances at London’s BBC Proms; concerts with many of the world’s finest orchestras, including the Royal Philharmonic, Orchestre National de Lyon, Hong Kong Philharmonic, and Boston Pops; and performances at international opera companies, including the Zurich Opera House, English National Opera, Théâtre du Châtelet, and Opera Philadelphia. Educated at Yale and the Juilliard School, he was a protege of Leonard Bernstein. He has worked with such distinguished artists as Judi Dench, Emma Thompson, Idina Menzel, Heather Headley, Bryn Terfel, Josh Groban, Matthew Morrison and Michael Feinstein.

“I’m thrilled to be taking the baton of The Philly POPS,” said Abell. “Growing up in Mt. Airy, I was very involved in the community with music. Now, I get to give back and share the music with the whole Philadelphia community and in all corners of our city—at the Kimmel Center, The Met Philadelphia, in front of Independence Hall, on The Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and more, as well as through our POPS in Schools supplemental educational programming.”

“David has been a fan-favorite for years and is a dear friend and member of the POPS family. We are very excited to have him in this new role,” said Frank Giordano, President and CEO of The Philly POPS. “His excellence in programming, his vision, and artistic direction have created some of our best and most memorable concerts. The organization has grown tremendously in the previous years and this appointment will further extend and expand the POPS’ artistic presence for years to come.”

About Music Director David Charles Abell
David Charles Abell is the newly appointed Music Director and Principal Conductor of The Philly POPS.

Born in North Carolina, David grew up in the Mt. Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia. At the age of fourteen, he turned his attention to conducting and went on to study with Leonard Bernstein and Nadia Boulanger. He earned degrees from Yale University and the Juilliard School after intensive study of viola, piano, and composition. He has worked with such distinguished artists as Judi Dench, Emma Thompson, Idina Menzel, Heather Headley, Bryn Terfel, Josh Groban, Matthew Morrison and Michael Feinstein. Previously, as Guest Conductor and Principal Guest Conductor of The Philly POPS, he conducted Cole Porter’s Broadway: Too Darn HotLenny’s RevolutionBlockbuster Broadway, and A Philly POPS Christmas in 2013, 2014, 2015, and again for the record-setting run of A Philly POPS Christmas in 2019.

David has appeared regularly on television, most notably conducting the 10th and 25th Anniversary concerts of Les Misérables. He has conducted five times at London’s BBC Proms, including a live telecast of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!. Recordings include the musicals Miss SaigonMartin Guerre and Man of La ManchaSomething’s Gotta Give with baritone Simon Keenleyside, Forever with soprano Diana Damrau, and highlights from La Bohème and Madama Butterfly with the Royal Philharmonic.

In the UK, David recently conducted his own critical edition of Kiss Me, Kate for Opera North. He has conducted many of the premier British orchestras, including the London Symphony, City of Birmingham, Bournemouth, and Royal Philharmonic. His work with the BBC Symphony Orchestra includes a centenary concert honoring his mentor Leonard Bernstein in 2018. A much-respected artist in London’s West End, David conducted the Olivier Awards ceremony for four years and was Andrew Lloyd Webber’s personal choice to lead the world premiere of Love Never Dies at the Adelphi Theatre.

David’s recent projects have included a series of Gershwin concerts at Kyiv National Theatre of Operetta in Ukraine, Carousel at the Vienna Volksoper and Sweeney Todd at the Zurich Opera House. David also conducted Barrie Kosky’s production of The Magic Flute at Opera Philadelphia, West Side Story at the Glimmerglass Festival, and Silent Night, Kevin Puts’ acclaimed opera about the World War I Christmas Truce, in Kansas City, Cincinnati and Detroit.

About The Philly POPS
The Philly POPS, the largest standalone pops orchestra in the United States, delights audiences with the inspired performance of American popular music. The POPS celebrates this distinctive musical heritage through an expanding repertoire of innovative concert performances and a robust set of educational and engagement initiatives.

As the official POPS orchestra of Pennsylvania and the City of Philadelphia’s partner in civic celebration, The Philly POPS serves a consistently growing audience of over 200,000 annually. Music Director David Charles Abell and the 65-piece Philly POPS orchestra keep listeners tapping their toes to an impressive repertoire of songs from American traditional music up through to today’s chart-toppers.

In addition to Subscription Series performances at The Kimmel Center, The Philly POPS presents innovative programming with contemporary artists at the Met Philadelphia in The Philly POPS at the Met Philadelphia series. Other ensembles that make up The Philly POPS are: The Philly POPS BIG Band, which plays a rock and rhythm and blues repertoire, and The Philly POPS Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia, under the direction of Artistic Director for Jazz, Terell Stafford.
Outside the concert hall, free Salute Series performances – including Memorial Salute, July 3 POPS on Independence, July 4 POPS on the Parkway and the I’ll Be Home for Christmas: A Salute to the Military and First Responders concert – celebrate the American tradition of service around important national holidays. POPS in Schools enhances music education for 3,000 Philadelphia School District students; and POPS Outside brings POPS music to local communities. The Philly POPS performs as a founding resident company of The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, as the Principal Orchestra of the Met Philadelphia, and at venues throughout the mid-Atlantic region.