David Alexander Rahbee is currently Senior Artist in Residence at the University of Washington School of Music in Seattle, where he is director of orchestral activities and chair of orchestral conducting. He is recipient of the American-Austrian Foundation’s 2003 Herbert von Karajan Fellowship for Young Conductors, the 2005 International Richard-Wagner-Verband Stipend, a fellowship from the Acanthes Centre in Paris (2007), and is first prize winner of The American Prize in conducting for 2020, in the college/university division.
Rahbee has appeared in concert with orchestras such as the Seattle Symphony, RTE National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Kammerphilharmonie Berlin-Brandenburg, Guernsey Symphony Orchestra, Chattanooga Symphony, Orchestre de la Francophonie, Orchesterakademie der Bochumer Symphoniker, the Dresden Hochschule orchestra, Grand Harmonie, the Boston New Music Initiative, Seattle Modern Orchestra, Orquesta Sinfónica de Loja (Ecuador), National Chamber Orchestra of Armenia, Savaria Symphony Orchestra (Hungary), Cool Opera of Norway (members of the Stavanger Symphony), Schönbrunner Schloss Orchester (Vienna), the Whatcom Symphony Orchestra, the Kennett Symphony, and the Divertimento Ensemble of Milan. At the University of Washington, he is music director of the UW Symphony and founder of the Campus Philharmonia Orchestras. He has collaborated three times with the Seattle Symphony: in 2015, as off-stage conductor for Ives’ Fourth Symphony (recorded live) and as guest conductor for their Native Lands project, and in March of 2019 he led the Seattle premiere of Páll Ragnar Pálsson’s Quake for cello and orchestra with his UW colleague Sæunn Þorsteinsdóttir. He has collaborated with several prominent soloists such as violinists Sarah Chang, Glenn Dicterow, David Chan and Joseph Lin, pianists Jon Kimura Parker, Ana-Marija Markovina, Yekwon Sunwoo and Jonathan Biss, as well as legendary jazz guitarist Bill Frisell. He has been a guest rehearsal conductor for numerous young orchestras, such as the New England Conservatory Symphony Orchestra, The Symphony Orchestras of the Hall-Musco Conservatory of Music at Chapman University, and the Vienna University of Technology orchestra, the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras (BYSO), and Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Orchestras (RIPYO). He served on faculty of the Pierre Monteux School and Music Festival as Conducting Associate (2014-2016), and has been resident conductor of the Atlantic Music Festival in Maine.
After apprenticing for several years with renowned musician Nikolaus Harnoncourt in Vienna, Rahbee has made historically informed performances of music of the 18th century a staple of his performing life, in particular, the music of Joseph Haydn. He has led performances of dozens of Haydn orchestral works with a variety of professional and student ensembles, on both modern and period instruments, including a multimedia project titled “The Haydn Experience” which makes connections across Haydn’s oeuvre through a narrative concert experience.
Rahbee’s work has earned national recognition. In 2021 he was praised by The American Prize as “Consistently one of the most courageous and comprehensive [orchestral] programmers working in higher education in the U.S. today…” In addition to being awarded first prize in conducting from The American Prize national non-profit competitions in the performing arts for 2020, he was awarded 2nd place in 2019. He has also placed among winners for five consecutive years for the American Prize Vytautas Marijosius Memorial Award for Orchestral Programming, recognizing his programming with the University of Washington Symphony Orchestra and its affiliated ensembles for every season since he joined the faculty. The UW Symphony has also been a finalist in the category of orchestral performance in 2018, 2019 and 2020.
Rahbee was an assistant at the Vienna State opera from 2002-2010. As part of his fellowship and residency at the 2003 Salzburg Festival, he was assistant conductor of the International Attergau Institute Orchestra, where he worked with members of the Vienna Philharmonic, and assisted Bobby McFerrin. He participated in masterclasses with prominent conductors such as Sir Colin Davis, Kurt Masur, Jorma Panula, Zdenek Mácal, Zoltán Peskó, Peter Eötvös and Helmut Rilling, and counts Nikolaus Harnoncourt to be among his most influential mentors. From 1997-2001, Rahbee was conductor of the Fidelio Chamber Orchestra in Cambridge, Massachusetts, selecting its talented young members from Harvard University, the New England Conservatory, Boston University and the Longy School. From 1997 to 2000, he served as assistant conductor of the Atlantic Symphony Orchestra (formerly known as the Hingham Symphony) in Massachusetts.
Rahbeeʼs principal conducting teachers were Charles Bruck and Michael Jinbo at the Pierre Monteux School, where he spend several summers. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree in violin and composition from Indiana University, a Master of Music degree from the New England Conservatory in orchestral conducting, and a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of Montreal in orchestral conducting. He has also participated in post-graduate conducting classes at the Universität für Musik und Darstellende Kunst, Vienna, and spent several summers at the International Bartók Festival and Seminar in Hungary. His arrangements of various music for brass are published by Warwick Music, and his articles on the music of Gustav Mahler have appeared in journals of the International Gustav Mahler Gesellschaft, among others. He is co-editor of Daniels Orchestral Music, 6th edition (slated for release in 2022), and Daniels Orchestral Music Online (updated monthly).
In whatever free time he manages to find, he enjoys exploring, casually following Boston sports teams, and performing satirical pizza reviews.