David Hanlon is a composer, conductor, and pianist praised by Maestro Patrick Summers as “one of the major compositional voices of the young generation.” Minnesota Opera recently tapped David for its New Works Initiative, and over the next seven years he will create a full-scale opera, chamber opera, and song cycle for the company. David is currently writing The Pigeon Keeper with librettist Stephanie Fleischmann, commissioned by the Opera For All Voices consortium led by Santa Fe Opera. David’s last collaboration with Stephanie was the chamber opera After the Storm, whose premiere he conducted at Houston Grand Opera. The Houston Chronicle lauded the score as “haunting” and “stirringly successful.” David has often written work for Houston Grand Opera (HGOco), including his chamber opera Past the Checkpoints about undocumented immigrants (featured in Opera America’s 2014 New Works Forum) the chamber vocal piece The Ninth November I Was Hiding, about his grandfather’s arrest during Kristallnacht, and Power, based on a text by a high-schooler about bullying.
David often works with Wolf Trap Opera, which recently premiered his orchestration of Pauline Viardot’s Cendrillon, praised by Opera News for its many“charms” and its “savory, nearly Straussian shimmer.” His other Wolf Trap commissions include the children’s opera Listen, Wilhelmina! With Wilhelmina librettist Kathleen Kelly, David wrote Texanische Liebeslieder about German immigration to Texas, based on oral histories in the Texas German dialect archives at UT-Austin. Since its premiere, it has been revived several times in Austin and Ann Arbor, and broadcast on Austin’s KMFA.
David is also a conductor with a focus in new work, praised by the Washington Post for his interpretive skills and “precise baton.” Most recently, he conducted at the Kennedy Center the world premiere of The Ice Cream Truck is Broken!, devised and hosted by Mo Willems and Renée Fleming, with the Washington National Opera Orchestra. Previously, he conducted at Houston Grand Opera the world premiere of El Milagro del Recuerdo, which he also co-arranged and made his debut at Chicago Opera Theatre, conducting Stefan Weisman and David Cote’s The Scarlet Ibis. Among other world premieres, David has long been associated with the mariachi operas Cruzar la cara de la luna (World premiere and recording, as well as its revivals in Houston, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Diego Opera, Arizona Opera, and New York City Opera.) and El Pasado Nunca Se Termina (World premiere at Lyric Opera of Chicago, and revivals at San Diego and HGO and Fort Worth.) He has orchestrated numbers from both Mariachi operas for Minnesota Opera’s Opera Afuera concert in 2021.
In addition to his commissioned work at HGO, David has conducted Gregory Spears’ The Bricklayer, Jack Perla’s River of Light, and Jeeyoung Kim’s From My Mother’s Mother. He assisted on numerous productions, including the premieres of Spears’s O Columbia, Iain Bell’s A Christmas Carol, André Previn’s Brief Encounter and Christopher Theofanidis’s The Refuge in addition to productions of Lohengrin, Tosca, Serse, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He is a graduate of the Houston Grand Opera Studio.
David served as Lorin Maazel’s assistant conductor for the Castleton Festival, where he prepared La Fanciulla del West for performances in Castleton and Spain, prepared both chorus and orchestra for concert performances, at times substituting for the Maestro in those concerts on short notice. He is also former Adler Fellow with San Francisco Opera. As an Adler, he conducted the premiere of Jack Perla’s Love/Hate and debuted his four hand piano piece ¡Bang Kiss Kiss Bang! He assisted on SFO operas including Nixon in China, Siegfried, Don Giovanni, and the premiere of Heart of a Soldier. He also works as an assistant conductor and chorus master at Wolf Trap Opera and Washington Concert Opera and as a pianist at Dallas Opera and Philadelphia Opera.
David is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music and Wesleyan University. He lives in Washington D.C. with his wife and two daughters.