In 2012 Opera News wrote, “The happy news of David Neely’s appointment as Des Moines Metro Opera’s first-ever music director portends some exciting operatic growth at Des Moines in years to come.” Since then, Neely has continued to elevate the company’s musical profile with acclaimed performances of a wide range of repertoire. Recent conducting highlights include Elektra, Peter Grimes, Dead Man Walking, Three Decembers, La Fanciulla del West, Falstaff, Jenůfa, Manon, and Soldier Songs with DMMO, Dialogues of the Carmelites with Sarasota Opera, and Florencia en el Amazonas with Indiana University Opera Theater.
Equally at home in opera and symphonic repertoire, conductor David Neely maintains an active professional and university teaching schedule. His operatic repertoire encompasses over 70 productions conducted in the United States and abroad. American highlights include over fifteen productions with Des Moines Metro Opera, numerous returns to Sarasota Opera, returns to Indiana University Opera Theatre. Internationally, he has appeared with the opera houses of Bonn, Halle, Dortmund, Saarbrücken, Coburg, Kaiserslautern, and Bielefeld. Symphonic appearances include the Portland Symphony Orchestra, the Eutin Festival Orchestra, Bochum Symphony, Dortmund Philharmonic, the Vorarlberg Symphony, the Kansas Sinfonietta, the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music orchestras, the orchestra of the Chicago College for Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, the University of Texas Symphony Orchestra, and the University of Kansas Symphony Orchestra. He has led festival concerts for the International Double Reed Society and the International Clarinet Association. Noted instrumental soloists with whom he has collaborated include Joshua Roman, Bella Hristova, Benjamin Beilman, Rainer Honeck, Nicholas Daniels, Ricardo Morales, Ben Lulich, and Phillippe Cuper.
Starting this fall, Neely will join the faculty of the renowned Indiana University Jacobs School of Music as Visiting Associate Professor for orchestral conducting. Previously, Neely was director of Orchestral Activities at the University of Kansas, where he brought distinction and visibility to the orchestra and orchestral conducting programs, and Music Director of the University of Texas’ Butler Opera Center 2001-2007.
Neely fosters strong community-university relationships. In Lawrence, Kansas, he partnering in or directed engagement activities, including an annual family-oriented Halloween concert and free Kansas Sinfonietta summer concerts. He established a continuing collaboration between the KU Symphony Orchestra and Lawrence Arts Center on annual staged performances of Peter and the Wolf, and partnered with Reach Out Kansas Inc. on free statewide performances for underserved communities. He has also played an active role in Lawrence’s Sister City program, helping to save Eutin, Germany’s six-decade old summer opera festival in 2011. In 2017, he was named Artist/Teacher of the Year by the Kansas Association of Music Clubs.
Neely is a respected vocal coach and collaborative pianist, and recently performed with baritone David Adam Moore in a multi-media performance of Winterreise for DMMO’s 2nd Stages series. Upcoming conducting engagements include Jake Heggie’s It’s a Wonderful Life, Bernstein’s West Side Story, as well as numerous concerts at the Jacobs School, d’Albert’s Tiefland with Sarasota Opera, and Falstaff with Intermountain Opera.
He holds a B.M. in Piano Performance and an M.M. in Orchestral Conducting from Indiana University, where his teachers were Zadel Skolovky and Leonard Hokanson (piano), and Thomas Baldner and Bryan Balkwill (conducting). He received post-graduate study in orchestral conducting with Gerhard Samuel at the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati.