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Daniel Abraham

Chair, Department of Performing Arts
Department of Performing Arts

  • Additional Positions at AU

    Professor of Music
    Director of Choral Activities, spring 1999-present
    Chair of Department of Performing Arts, 2009-2011 & Director of Music, 2000-2006
  • Choral/orchestral conductor and musicologist; specialist in 17th- and 18th-century music. Conductor and Artistic Director of the Bach Sinfonia and Bach Sinfonia Voci. Period-instrument performances include various modern premieres of Baroque and Classical period works; performances at John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Music Center at Strathmore Concert Hall, Trinity Wall Street, National Museum of Women in the Arts, and before two national meetings of the American Musicological Society. Various commercial recording on the Dorian and Sono Luminus labels. National broadcasts credits (television/radio) include choral preparation for the Kennedy Center Honors Gala (PBS), as a chorus master for Christmas in Washington (TNT), and performances on Performance Today (NPR), Sunday Baroque (NPR), Great Sacred Music (WCPE), and Classical Discoveries (NPR), With various ensembles he has conducted concerts abroad in Canada, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Romania, Russia, and Egypt. Frequent clinician, adjudicator, and festival ensemble conductor. Published in Choral Journal, editorial work for The Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach Edition (OUP), and Cambridge University Press. Past grant panelist for the Maryland State Arts Council and past President of the MD/DC State Chapter of the American Choral Directors Association. Conducting studies and additional training with Paul Traver, Helmuth Rilling, William Weinert, Frieder Bernius, and David Hoose.
  • Degrees

    PhD, Musicology, ABD, University of Maryland MM Historical Musicology & Conducting, University of Maryland BM Music, University of Massachusetts
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  • PLEASE CONTACT: hisle@american.edu for an appointment Regular Appointment Hours: M/TH 10:30 AM - 1:45 PM; W 10:00 AM - 1:30 PM; TH 5:00 - 7:00 PM FRI 11:00 AM - 4:30 PM
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Partnerships & Affiliations

Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities

Research Interests

Performance and research in baroque and classical period music (17th and 18th centuries); issues in performance practice; the music of Bach and Handel, choral music research and pedagogy.

Exhibitions/Performances

SELECTED PERFORMANCES

Professional Conductor

  • Guest Conductor, Trinity Wall Street Chorus & Baroque Orchestra, October 2014
  • North American Premiere, Capel Bond: Concerto No. 1 for Trumpet & Strings & North American Premiere & Charles Avison: Concerto in B Major, Op. 6, No. 5, October 2012
  • First complete cycle (live performance) of Zelenka's Capriccios for Orchestra, May 2012
  • U.S. Premiere, Johann Bernhard Bach: Orchestral Suite No. 2, March 2011
  • Premiere of New Critical Edition, Antonio Salieri: Picciolo Requiem [premiere of new critical edition by Jane Schatkin Hettrick], October 2010
  • Henry Purcell: King Arthur, Concert Hall at The Arts Center at Strathmore, May 2009   
  • Modern premiere of Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber's Stabat Mater, May 2008
  • Concert before the Annual National Meeting of the American Musicological Society: Handel's Alexander's Feast and Johann Sebastian Bach: Alles mit Gott und nichts ohn’ ihn BWV 1127, October 2005 [before the Annual National Meeting of the American Musicological Society]
  • Washington area premiere: George Frideric Handel: Gloria, Washington, D.C., May 2002
  • Modern premiere: Marie-Emanuelle Bayon-Louis: Fleur d’Épine, before the International Conference Attending to Early Modern Women, November 2000
  • Programs with Tony Powell/Music & Movement, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C., November 2000
  • Concert before the Annual National Meeting of the American Musicological Society: Cantata4, November 1996

As Conductor at American University

  • Russian Federation Tour, American University Chamber Singers [Moscow (2 programs), Perm, Yekaterinburg (2 programs), Kazan]; programs with Governers Orchestra Vladimir, Chamber Orchestra of the Orpheus Theatre (Perm); B-A-C-H Chamber Orchestra (Yekaterinburg), May 2013
  • American University Chamber Singers, World Premiere, Fernando Benadon: Three Israeli Poems, September 2012
  • Spain & Portugal Tour, American University Chamber Singers [Spain: Granada (2), Cordoba and Seville; Portugal: Faro and Lisbon (2)], May 2011   
  • U.S. Premiere, Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla: Missa Ero flos campi, American University Chamber Singers, April 2011
  • U.S. Premiere, Wilhem Friedemann Bach: Wohl dem, der den Herren fürchtet, Fk 76, American University Chamber Singers, November 2010
  • AU Chamber Singers International Tour of Hungary and Romania, May 2009
  • Invited Showcase Choir (AU Chamber Singers) for the Inaugural Washington, D.C. Choral Festival, Concert Hall, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, May 2007
  • AU Chamber Singers Eastern United States and Eastern Canada Tour, October 2004
  • Various World Premieres

Television & Radio Performances

  • Chorus Master, University Chorale, Christmas In Washington, National Television Broadcast: TNT, 2006-2008
  • Various performance broadcasts on National Public Radio's Performance Today, Sunday Baroque, Great Sacred Music, and Classical Discovies
  • Chorus Master, “A Tribute to Bill Cosby” for The Kennedy Center Honors Gala National Television Broadcast, PBS, 1999

Reviews of Recent Live Performance

  • “Late Great Bach: The Mass in B Minor.” The Washington Post, October 27, 2014; critical review by Cecelia Porter.
  • “Bach Sinfonia’s Baroque Christmas Gifts.” The Washington Post, December 16, 2013, C4; critical review by Joan Reinthaler.
  • “The Sound of a Tradition.” MoCo Vox (The Voice of Montgomery County), December 16, 2013, critical review by David Cannon.
  • “I’ll Be Baroque For Christmas: Bach Sinfonia at Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center.” DMV Classical, December 14, 2013; critical review by Andrew Lindemann Melone. http://dmvclassical.wordpress.com/2013/12/15/ill-be-baroque-for-christmas-bach-sinfonia/
  • “Get Bach Loretta.” MoCo Vox (The Voice of Montgomery County), October 7, 2013, critical review by David Cannon.
  • “The Trumpets Shall Sound: Bach Sinfonia at Montgomery College. Cultural Arts Center.” DMV Classical, October 7, 2013; critical review by Andrew Lindemann Melone. http://dmvclassical.wordpress.com/2013/10/06/the-trumpets-shall-sound-bach-sinfonia/
  • “??? ????? — «???????? ????? ???????????? ???????» ?? ?????????? ????????? ? ????????? ? ????? ??????? ????????????? - ???????? - ??????????????: ??????” [“Good Choir — American University Chamber Singers from Washington gave a concert at the Museum of Yekaterinburg - Concerts - KulturMultur: Review.”] May 31, 2013. www.kulturmultur.com/itwas/125/item148324/
  • “Bach Sinfonia rediscovers New World.” The Washington Post, May 8, 2013, teaser C1+C3; critical review by Cecelia Porter.
  • “Fiesta! Bach Sinfonia at Montgomery College’s Cultural Arts Center in Silver Spring, May 5, 2013” DMV Classical, May 7, 2013; critical review by Andrew Lindemann Melone. http://dmvclassical.wordpress.com/2013/05/07/fiesta-bach-sinfonia-at-montgomery-colleges-cultural-arts-center/
  •  “Leipzig Idol: The Bach Sinfonia at Montgomery College’s Cultural Arts Center in Silver Spring.” DMV Classical, April 2, 2012; critical review by Andrew Lindemann Malone. http://dmvclassical.wordpress.com/2012/04/02/leipzig–idol–the–bach–sinfonia–at–montgomery–colleges–cultural–arts–center–in–silver–spring/
  • "Death becomes them: Mozart requiem and Bach Sinfonia." The Washington Post, October 25, 2010; critical review by Cecelia Porter. Link 
  • Mo' Better Motets: The Bach Sinfonia and Sinfonia Voci. DMV Classical, March 8, 2010; critical review by Andrew Lindemann Malone. Link The Classical Beat: In Performance. Bach Sinfonia. The Washington Post, March 8, 2010; critical review by Joan Reinthaler. Link
  • Bach Sinfonia's 'King Arthur' at Strathmore Center. The Washington Post, May 11, 2009; critical review by Cecelia Porter. Link (third item on page) 
  • Bach Sinfonia Workaday Wonders Of the Baroque.The Washington Post, May 19, 2008; p. C01, critical review by Anne Midgette. Link 
  • Music: The Bach Sinfonia. The Washington Post, March 24, 2008; p. C05, critical review by Joan Reinthaler. 
  • Music: From Bach Sinfonia and Chantry, A Dido Die For. The Washington Post, October 30, 2006; p. C05, critical review by Andrew Lindemann Malone. Link

Professional Presentations

  • Preparing the Parts: Efficient Marking for Choral-Instrumental Performance. Conference Interest Session. American Choral Directors Association, Eastern Division Conference, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, February 13, 2010
  • New Editions of Old Music. Conference Session for the College and University Conductor’s Repertoire Forum. American Choral Directors Association, Eastern Division Conference, Hartford, Connecticut, February 19, 2008
  • Collegiate Honor Choir Chair, 2008 Eastern Division Conference, American Choral Directors Association, Hartford, Connecticut, February 2008  
  • Collegiate Honor Choir Chair, 2006 Eastern Division Conference, American Choral Directors Association, New York, New York, February 2006
  • Appearance on premiere season of "The History Detectives," PBS Television, 2003
  • Frequent clinician, adjudicator, and festival conductor throughout the eastern United States and Canada

Grants and Sponsored Research

  • Maryland State Arts Council: Arts Organization Support for mid-size Organizations, Arts in the Community Grants, and General Operating Support (The Bach Sinfonia): 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
  • Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County (Maryland): Grant for Artistic Organizations & Administrative Support (The Bach Sinfonia): 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
  • Grant from Ernst and Young, LLP: General Arts Support (The Bach Sinfonia): 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009
  • The Dimick Foundation, Artistic Support (The Bach Sinfinia): 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006
  • Lockheed-Martin, Arts and Technology Grant (The Bach Sinfonia): 2004
  • University of Maryland, Project Support Grant, 2002
  • Prince George’s County Arts Council, 2000

Recordings

  • Zelenka: The Capriccios. The Bach Sinfonia; R.J. Kelley & Alexandra Cook, natural horns. Sono Luminus Records, November 2012
  • The Art of Vivaldi's Lute. The Bach Sinfonia; Ronn McFarlane, lute; William Bauer, Viola d'amore; Jennifer Ellis, soprano. Sono Luminus Records, May 2011
  • J. S. Bach: The Motets. The Bach Sinfonia and Sinfonia Voci; Dorian Records, October 2010
  • The Forgotten Baroque: Masterworks of the Seventeenth Century. Biber: Stabat Mater [modern premiere recording], Rossi: psalms & Carissimi: Historia di Jephte. The Bach Sinfonia and Sinfonia Voci; Dorian Records, May 2009
  • George Frideric Handel: Alexander’s Feast or The Power of Music, HWV 75 and Johann Sebastian Bach: Alles mit Gott und nichts ohn’ ihn, BWV 1127. The Bach Sinfonia and Handel Choir of Baltimore. Dorian Records: DSL-20604, December 2006

Reviews of Recordings

  • “Jan Dismas Zelenka: The Capriccios (Five)—The Bach Sinfonia/Daniel Abraham—Sono Luninus Pure Audio Blu-ray+CD.” Audiophile Audition, October 24, 2013; critical review by John Sunier. [Selection as “Multichannel Disc of the Month”]
  •  “Zelenka: The Capriccios [The Bach Sinfonia]; Blu-ray Audio Review.” Blu-RayDefinition.com, June 23, 2013; critical review by Lawrence D. Devoe
  • Nelson, David. “Zelenka: A Survey of His Music Now or Very Recently Available on CD.” 58 pages. Czech Music, the Journal of the Dvo?ák Society (2012; updated on-line: May 2013); “Capriccios ZWV 182/5,190,” pp. 52-53. 
  • “Johann Sebastian Bach: Motets.” Choral Journal (February 2013), 75-6; critical review by Garrett Saake.
  • "Vivaldi: Lute Pieces." American Record Guide (November 2011), 189; critical review by Peter Loewen.
  • "Ronn McFarlane's lute is ever present in this varied and pleasurable programme." Gramophone (October 2011); critical review by Donald Rosenberg.
  • "Johann Sebastian Bach: Motets." Early Music America 17 (Summer 2011), 21-2; critical review by Karen Cook.
  • "Vivaldi by Ronn McFarlane and Daniel Abraham." WETA, June 2011; critical review. "Daniel Abraham: Bach's 7 Motets on Dorian." Fanfare 34:4 (March/April 2011); critical review by George Chien. Link
  • "Classical: Bach Motets Performed by Bach Sinfonia." The Buffalo News, March 4, 2011; critical review by Mary Kunz Goldman. Link
  • "Bach: Motets." American Record Guide (January 2011), 82-3; critical review by Lindsay Koob.
  • "J. S. Bach: Motets (Bach Sinfonia, Abraham)." Audio Video of Atlanta, December 2010; critical review by Phil Muse. Link
  • "Classical CD Reviews: Passion and Lament." Audiophile Audition (July 1, 2010), critical review by Steven Ritter. Link 
  • "Winning affections: Paul Riley is moved by Daniel Abraham collection of Baroque choral works." BBC Magazine (June 2010), U.S. Reviews, 97; critical review by Paul Riley.
  • "Recording Reviews: Passion and Lament: Choral Masterworks of the 17th Century." Early Music America (summer 2010), 50-1; critical review by Karen Cook.
  • "CD Review: Building a Library: Carissimi's Jephte." BBC Radio 3; broadcast: Saturday, May 15, 2010 and podcast available (time: 26:44-1:17:18); critical review by David Vickers.
  • Recording Reviews: G. F. Handel: Alexander's Feast, or The Power of Music, HWV 75; Johann Sebastian Bach: Alles mit Gott und nichts ohn ihn, BVW 1127; Daniel Abraham, conductor; Dorian Recordings. Choral Journal, September 2007, critical review by C. Leonard Raybon, pp. 71-73. Download issue
  • Recording Review of G. F. Handel: Alexander's Feast / J. S. Bach: Alles mit Gott und nichts ohn ihn, BVW 1127 (Dorian DSL-20604) in Early Music America, September 2007, critical review by Denise Gallo

Selected Publications

  • Renaissance and Baroque Performance Practice: Invaluable Resources for the Choral Conductor (with James John, co-author). Research Memorandum Series, No. 200. Chorus America: Philadelphia, 2011.
  • "Vivaldi's Works for Lute and Ensemble” for Indianapolis Early Music Festival, Summer, 2011 [program annotation]
  • “Mozart’s Requiem: History and its Conclusions” for Handel Choir of Baltimore, May 2011 [program annotation]
  • “Vivaldi and the Concerto” for The Art of Vivaldi’s Lute, Ronn MacFarlane and The Bach Sinfonia. Sono Luninus, October 2011 [CD recording annotation]
  • “New Bach Performances: Historically Informed?” Choral Journal, April 2008   
  • "The London Pleasure Gardens and their Musical Entertainments” for Songs of the London Pleasure Gardens, Brandywine Baroque for Plectra Records, PL20601: December 2006 [CD recording annotation]   
  • Alles mit Gott und nichts ohn’ ihn: A newly discovered aria by Johann Sebastian Bach” for Dorian Records: DSL-20604, December 2006 [CD recording annotation]

Media Appearances

Selected Feature Articles & Media Interviews

  • “Early Music is a Capital Idea.” Early Music America 20/1 (Winter 2014): 34-8 by Mark Longaker.   
  • “Chamber music’s timelessness explored.” The Gazette Newspapers (Maryland), February 2, 2013 by Marie Gullard.
  • “Spotlight—The Arts Served Daily: The Bach Sinfonia presents Zelenka.” Metro Weekly, May 2, 2012 by Randy Shulman.
  • “Concert brings Bach to the future at Montgomery College’s Cultural Arts Center; Concert reenacts composer’s job audition to let modern audience decide.” The Gazette Newspapers (Maryland), March 28, 2012 by Cody Calamaio.
  • “Audience Rates 18th Century Performances in Real–Time Voting.” Washington Examiner. March 27, 2012 by Marie Gullard.
  • Vivaldi Goes Digital: Bach Sinfonia put multimedia spin on 'The Four Season.'" The Gazette Newspapers (Maryland),May 4, 2011 by Jordan Edwards.
  • "Concert brings Bach to the future at Montgomery College's Cultural Arts Center; Concert reenacts composer's job audition to let modern audience decide."The Gazette Newspapers (Maryland), May 28, 2012 by Cody Calamato
  • "Audience Rates 18th Century Performances in Real–Time Voting." Washington Examiner. March 27, 2012 By Marie Gullard
  • "Vivaldi Goes Digital: Bach Sinfonia puts multimedia spin on 'The Four Seasons.'" The Gazette Newspapers, May 4, 2011 by Jordan Edwards.
  • "Notes for a Haydn Anniversary." Early Music America, Vol. 15, Winter 2008
  • "Modern Premiere: Biber." Early Music America, Vol. 14, Fall 2008
  • "Religion That's Set to Music: The Bach Sinfonia. The Washington Post Express, March 15, 2008 by Andrew Lindemann Malone
  • "Soundbytes: First complete performance in North America" [Bach, BWV 1127]. Early Music America, Vol. 11, Winter 2005. 
  • Interviews with Judith Krummeck, WBJC Radio (Baltimore, Maryland) FM 90.9, regarding the upcoming premiere of Bach's rediscovered aria. Broadcasts: October 23-29, 2005 
  • Extended Interview and Discussion: FM Radio 95 (Cairo, Egypt) on Town Beat; Cultural Activities Program (most important English language arts broadcast in the Middle East). Broadcast: May 2005
  • "Choral Concert . . ." Akhbar El Nogoom [Leading artistic magazine in the Arabic world], May 7, 2005, p. 31 by Marianne Mahrous
  • "Fleur, The Obscure: Bach Sinfonia to Cast a Rare Light in the Overlooked Genre of Opera Comique." The Washington Post, November 5, 2000 by Philip Kennicott.

Honors, Awards, and Fellowships

  • WAMMIE Nominations as Best Classical Conductor/Director & Best Classical Chamber Ensemble (Bach Sinfonia), Washington Area Music Association, 2013
  • WAMMIE Nominations as Best Classical Conductor/Director & Best Classical Chamber Ensemble (Bach Sinfonia), Washington Area Music Association, 2012
  • WAMMIE Nominations (2) for Best Classical Album (The Art of Vivaldi's Lute and J.S. Bach: The Motets), 2012
  • Finalist [2nd Prize], 2011 American Prize, Bach Sinfonia Voci, Choral Performance (Professional Ensemble)
  • WAMMIE Nominations for Best Classical Conductor/Director & Best Classical Chamber Ensemble (Bach Sinfonia), Washington Area Music Association, 2011
  • Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Performing and Visual Arts, American University in Cairo, Egypt, spring 2005 [Note: not affiliated with American University, Washington, D.C.]
  • Daniel M. Palmeroy Prize, American Handel Society & Maryland Handel Festival for Performance and Scholarship in Eighteenth-Century Music, 1998
  • Conductor/Participant, Oregon Bach Festival, Summer 1997
  • Irving Lowens Award, American Musicological Society, Capital Chapter, Excellence in Student Musicological Research, 1996

AU Expert

Area of Expertise: Musicology, choral and orchestral conducting, seventeenth-and eighteenth-century (German and English) music sociology, music of J. S. Bach and G. F. Handel, rock history, jazz history, popular music, choral music, early brass instruments, computer applications in the humanities and music

Additional Information:
Daniel E. Abraham, director of choral activities, conducts the American University Chorus and the Chamber Singers and teaches courses in music history, theory, and appreciation. He is a frequent clinician, adjudicator, and festival jurist. A specialist in performance and practice of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century music, Abraham is the music and artistic director of the Bach Sinfonia, a period-instrument ensemble dedicated to baroque and classical music. The Washington Post and other media outlets have praised his artistry and performances as having “uncommon precision and exuberant vitality” and “keen insight and coherence.” As a conductor and musicologist, he has “blended those skills marvelously in a program that combined learning with enjoyment in ideal proportions.” Abraham has conducted performances at the Kennedy Center, Music Center at Strathmore, National Women's Museum of the Arts, National Cathedral and twice before national meetings of the American Musicological Society. Broadcast credits include choral preparation for the Kennedy Center Honors Gala on PBS; the chorus master for Christmas in Washingtonon TNT, and an appearance on the PBS series History Detectives.Abraham was nominated for a 2010 Washington Area Music Award (WAMMIE) as Best Conductor/Director, and Bach Sinfonia is a 2011 finalist for the American Prize for Performance in the professional choral ensemble area. He records for Dorian Records (International) and is past president of the Maryland/District of Columbia chapter of the American Choral Directors Association. 

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