David Neely

Director, Orchestral Activities
Primary office:
126 Murphy Hall

M.M. Indiana University, Bloomington; B.M. Indiana University, Bloomington

David Neely is Director of Orchestral Activities at the University of Kansas.

Of David Neely’s work with Des Moines Metro Opera, the publication Opera News wrote “...the happy news of David Neely’s appointment as DMMO’s first-ever music director portends some exciting operatic growth at Des Moines in years to come.” Of his Elektra, The Classical Review stated “Conductor David Neely shaped the piece superbly and elicited virtuosic playing from his excellent instrumentalists. This was a reading fully invested with the psychological import, musical colors, and emotional content that mark the greatest performances. Maestro Neely carefully balanced this towering achievement in the pit with his sensational cast of vocalists.”

David Neely’s international conducting career spans several continents and includes appearances in Dortmund, Saarbrücken, Coburg, Bonn, St. Gallen, Bielefeld, Kaiserslautern, Halle, Bregenz, Bochum, Eutin, Kuala Lumpur, Des Moines, and Sarasota. For over a decade, he resided in Germany where he conducted over four hundred performances of wide-ranging repertoire.

Equally at home in opera and symphonic settings, Mr. Neely is known for his polished, expressive performances, and has garnered particular critical acclaim for his interpretations of German operatic repertoire and for his recent leadership of the American Classics Series with Sarasota Opera.

Landmark projects include the American premiere of Robert Orledge’s completion of Debussy’s The Fall of the House of Usher, the German premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s ENO- commissioned opera The Silver Tassie. He has led concerts in the Festspielhaus in Bregenz and the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City.

Mr. Neely is Music Director and Principal Conductor of Des Moines Metro Opera, a post he has held since 2012. Past positions with DMMO include Bruno Walter Associate Conductor and Co- Director of the Apprentice Artist Program.

He currently resides in Lawrence, Kansas, where he is Director of Orchestral Activities and heads the orchestral conducting program at Kansas University. He has appeared as a conductor and guest teacher of conducting at Indiana University, and served on the faculty of the University of Texas as Music Director of the Butler Opera Center.

In 2011, Mr. Neely played a key role in a successful effort to save the Eutiner Festspiele. By helping to create summer internships for Kansas University music students, the 60-year-old summer opera festival in Lawrence’s sister city was successfully restructured and the musical relationship forged between the festival and the university continues to this day.

Mr. Neely is a noted vocal coach, and has held master classes and coaching sessions for young singers at Sarasota Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Ohio State University, State Conservatory of the Saarland, and the Detmold Conservatory.

He holds degrees in Piano Performance and Orchestral Conducting from Indiana University, where his teachers included Leonard Hokanson and Zadel Skolovsky (piano), and Thomas Baldner and Bryan Balkwill (conducting). He also studied orchestral conducting with Gerhard Samuel at the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, where he conducted his first operas: Tippet’s The Knot Garden, and Janácek’s The Cunning Little Vixen. 

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