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Graham Abbott


Management: Worldwide

Messiah, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra 
“Graham Abbott's direction brought a sure and steady hand to proceedings.”
Tony Way, The Age, 12 December 2021

The Barber of Seville, State Opera of South Australia 
“Conductor Graham Abbott brings both meticulous detail and lovely flowing elegance to Rossini.”
Graham Strahle, Independent Daily, 12 December 2021

The Pearl Fishers, State Opera of South Australia
“…Graham Abbott does comparable wonders in the pit. In his direction there is so much more on offer than that one afore­mentioned tenor aria. Superbly paced, unforced and clear, his conducting strips away the layers of lush that too often injure Bizet’s delicate orchestration. Along with sweetly tuned playing from the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, this affords unprecedented insight into the score’s melodic riches and colour. It is like hearing The Pearl Fishers for the first time”
Graham Strahle, The Australian, May 14, 2018

“…conductor Graham Abbott has the Adelaide symphony Orchestra perform a pleasurable score
of gentle overtures, ethereal solos, memorable duets and enjoyable choruses.”
Greg Elliott, Indaily.com, 14 May 2018

Aida, State Opera of South Australia
Graham Abbott’s conducting is marked not only  by his control of the grand climaxes but his sensitive accompaniment to the more intimate moments, alert to the surges of passion, with some rapturously lovely woodwind playing, standing out from the impressive contribution of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.”
Ewart Shaw, Adelaidenow, August 2nd 2010

Sydney-born Graham Abbott is a graduate of the Sydney Conservatorium and in 1985 was awarded the ABC / Willem van Otterloo Conducting Scholarship. During this tenure he studied with Myer Fredman at the Sydney Conservatorium where he also taught. In 1986 Graham was appointed Conductor-in-Residence at the Elder Conservatorium of Music at the University of Adelaide. He was Musical Director of Adelaide Chorus (now Adelaide Philharmonia Chorus) from 1986 to 1992 and made his professional orchestral debut with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra in 1987. 

This year will see Graham continuing in his role as Artistic Director for Hayllar Music Tours, curating and leading multiple tours in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, tours to the Bendigo and Adelaide Festivals, Melbourne Opera’s Ring Cycle and the Mahler Festival in Leipzig. Graham will also return to the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra for a program of Mozart and Haydn, to Festival of Voices Hobart for Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle, and to Adelaide Philharmonia for Haydn’s Creation. 

In a career spanning more than thirty years, Graham has been a frequent guest conductor with all the major Australian orchestras. He has also conducted the Hunter Orchestra, the State Orchestra of Victoria (now Orchestra Victoria), the Adelaide Chamber Orchestra, the Queensland Philharmonic, the Canberra Symphony Orchestra, the Australian Classical Players and many new and early music ensembles. An experienced conductor of opera, Graham’s repertoire includes Fidelio, Aida, Lélisir dámore, Julius Caesar, Orlando, The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, La traviata, Il trovatore, Don Pasquale, Un ballo in maschera, and Pelléas et Mélisande.  He was also Assistant Conductor for the Australian premiere season of John Adams' Nixon in China at the 1992 Adelaide Festival and in 2001-2002 was Music Advisor to Chamber Made Opera in Melbourne. 

In addition to orchestral concerts around Australia and returns to the Adelaide and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras, highlights in recent years include conducting The Barber of Seville  and Don Giovanni for State Opera of South Australia), leading tours for Hayllar Music Tours, including to the Bendigo Chamber Music and Adelaide Festivals, and creating a series of Podcasts for the Melbourne Recital Centre. Graham has also conducted Israel in Egypt (Sydney Philharmonia Choirs), Handel’s Water Music (Tasmanian Symphony) and Coronation Anthems (Adelaide Philharmonia Chorus), the annual series of Unwrap the Music performances for Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, semi-staged performances of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion for Opera Queensland, Rachmaninov Vespers with Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, Dvořák’s Stabat Mater with the Prague Chamber Orchestra, Bach’s St Matthew Passion for the Perth Festival, the world premiere of Legrenzi’s Matins for Christmas Day with the Choir of St Peter’s Cathedral, Adelaide, Beethoven’s Eroica  Symphony with Melbourne Chamber Orchestra and Camerata (Brisbane) as well as narrating Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf for the Geelong Chamber Music series.

While his repertoire in orchestral, choral and operatic fields spans almost all periods and styles, Graham Abbott is most respected as a conductor of, and enthusiast for, the music of Handel. He has conducted Messiah more than seventyfive times, with all the major Australian orchestras as well as in the UK and in New Zealand. He has given first Australian performances of major Handel works such as Athalia, Ariodante, Agrippina and La resurrezione, as well as conducting the Australian premiere of Handel’s complete Carmelite Music for the Adelaide Chamber Singers.

Graham was Associate Conductor of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra from 1993 to 1997 and Musical Director of Melbourne Chorale from 1994 to 1997. During this period, he conducted a vast range of music, from the Bach Passions to Australian premieres of Philip Glass symphonies, major Australian works and much standard repertoire. In 1997, Graham was acting Chorus Master of the Chorus of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Guest conducting engagements during this time included concerts with the Edinburgh Royal Choral Union, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and the Ulster Orchestra.  In 1998 Graham returned to Scotland twice to conduct performances that included the Dvořák Stabat Mater in Edinburgh.

Graham’s recent engagements have included The Pearlfishers (Opera Queensland and State Opera South Australia), Canberra Symphony Orchestra’s Shell Prom Concert, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (Ears Wide Open), Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra (Unwrap the Music), the Elder Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra and Adelaide Philharmonic Chorus (Handel’s Belshazzar). Sing with the Orchestra (QSO), the Sydney Conservatorium High School Annual Concerts, Haydn Nelson Mass and Mozart Requiem for Canberra Choral Society and returned to the ASO for their Festival of Learning Program as well as making his first appearance with the Festival of Voices, Hobart (Cherubini C minor Requiem). Graham has also presented numerous concerts for Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and presents a series of Adult Education Lectures for the University of Adelaide.

Graham Abbott is managed by Graham Pushee: graham@artsmanagement.com.au
February 2023
This biography is for general information purposes only and not for publication.
Please contact Graham for an up-to-date biography to suit your needs.