David Afkham is in his fifth season as Principal Conductor of the Spanish National Orchestra & Chorus. Born in Freiburg, Germany, in 1983, he is in high demand as a guest conductor with some of the world’s finest orchestras and opera houses, and has established a reputation as one of the most sought after conductors to emerge from Germany in recent years.
Future highlights as a symphonic guest conductor include debuts with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Czech Philharmonic and returns to the Chicago Symphony, Münchner Philharmoniker, HR Sinfonieorchester Frankfurt, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Swedish Radio Symphony, Oslo Philharmonic, Orchestra of Accademia Santa Cecilia and NHK Symphony Orchestras.
Highlights in David’s 18/19 season with the Spanish National Orchestra include performances of Haydn’s Die Schöpfung, Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder, Mahler’s Symphony No. 6 and Shostakovich Symphony No. 7. Semi-staged concert performances of major opera works have become an acclaimed feature of his seasons in Madrid: Wagner’s Die Fliegende Holländer in 2016, Strauss’ Elektra in 2017, Bach’s St. Mathew Passion and Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle in 2018.
As an opera conductor in season 18/19, David Afkham looks forward to German Opera debuts with Humperdinck’s Hänsel & Gretel at Frankfurt Opera and Wagner’s Die fliegende Holländer at Stuttgart Opera. He made a noted opera debut at Glyndebourne Festival Opera in 2014, with Verdi’s La Traviata, later reviving the production for performances around the UK and Ireland for Glyndebourne on Tour. In 2017, he conducted Ginastera’s Bomarzo at Teatro Real in Madrid in a new production by Pierre Audi, to unanimous critical acclaim. Future opera plans include Wagner’s Parsifal, Dvorak’s Rusalka, Weinberg’s The Passenger and Strauss’ Arabelle.
David Afkham began piano and violin lessons at the age of six in his native Freiburg. At 15, he entered the city’s University of Music to pursue studies in piano, music theory and conducting and continued his studies at the Liszt School of Music in Weimar. David Afkham was the first recipient of the ‘Bernard Haitink Fund for Young Talent’ and assisted Maestro Bernard Haitink in a number of major projects including symphony cycles with the Chicago Symphony, Concertgebouworkest and London Symphony Orchestra. He was the winner of the 2008 Donatella Flick Conducting Competition in London, and was the inaugural recipient of the ‘Nestle and Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award’ in 2010. He and was Assistant Conductor of the Gustav Mahler Jungendorchester 2009-2012. Highlights among David’s guest conducting projects to date include regular appearances at the Musikverein, Vienna, the Boston Symphony Orchestra at the 2016 and 2017 Tanglewood festivals, projects with the London Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Concertgebouw Orchestra, Staatskapelle Berlin, DSO-Berlin, Staatskapelle Dresden, Orchestre National de France, Gothenburg Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and at the Mostly Mozart Festival New York.