David Afkham is Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Orquestra y Coro Nacional de España since September 2019, following a highly successful tenure as the orchestra’s Principal Conductor since 2014. His work with the OCNE so far has featured critically acclaimed performances of Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder, Mahler’s Symphony No. 6, Bruckner Symphony No. 9, Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, Brahms’ Requiem, Haydn’s Die Schöpfung, Bach’s Mass in B Minor as well as several world premieres and semi-staged projects with Wagner’s Die fliegende Holländer, Strauss’ Elektra and Salome, Bach’s St. Mathew Passion and Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle. Born in Freiburg, Germany, in 1983, David Afkham 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.
Highlights as a guest conductor this season include his debut with the Orchestre National de Lyon and return invitations to the Minnesota Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, Boston Symphony (Tanglewood) and Copenhagen Philharmonic. David also stepped-in to tour with the Dresden Staatskapelle in concerts across Europe including Dresden, Luxembourg and Hamburg and more recently to conduct Arabella by Richard Strauss at Semperoper Dresden. David also conducted the Christof production of Strauss’ Arabella at Teatro Real, Madrid.
As an opera conductor, David Afkham made a noted 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, and leading to an immediate re-invitation. In season 18/19 he made his German opera debut at Frankfurt Opera with Humperdinck’s Hänsel & Gretel, followed by Stuttgart Opera with Wagner’s Die fliegende Holländer. He opened his 2019–2020 season at Theater an der Wien with Dvorak’s Rusalka.
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 was Assistant Conductor of the Gustav Mahler Jungendorchester 2009-2012.
Highlights among David’s guest conducting projects to date include with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood, Chicago Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra and Los Angeles Philharmonic, as well as the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York. In Europe, David has guest conducted the London Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Concertgebouw Orchestra, Staatskapelle Berlin, DSO-Berlin, Staatskapelle Dresden, Orchestre National de France, Gothenburg Symphony, Swedish Radio Symphony as well as toured with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Deutscher Kammerphilharmonie, Mahler Chamber Orchestra and regular appearances at the Musikverein, Vienna, with the Wiener Symphoniker and the Gustav Mahler Jungendorchester.