Winner of the 2011 Grammy for best engineering of a classical composition for his work on the SonoLuminis CD, “Quincy Porter, Complete Viola Works” featuring Cleveland Orchestra violist Eliesha Nelson, David Sabee, cello, began his studies at age five as a pianist, later studying with Miriam Blair and Frank Mannheimer.
Gaining an invaluable musical foundation and a great love for the classical and romantic piano repertoire from the respective pedagogical lineages of Rudolf Ganz and Tobias Matthay, David began cello studies began at age seventeen with Johan Lingeman, former solo cellist of the Concertgebouw Orkest, and continued with Paul Olefsky, a dynamic pupil of Feuerman, Piatigorsky and Casals. After three years as principal cellist of the Austin Symphony, David moved to New York to join the cello studio of Harvey Shapiro. While in New York, he joined the American Composers Orchestra under Dennis Russell Davies, performing world premieres of works by composers ranging from Ralph Shapey and David Del Tredici to Laurie Anderson and Keith Jarrett. A founding member of the Naumburg finalist Tafelmusik, which juxtaposed contemporary and early music, he worked with such composers as Lukas Foss, Frederic Rzewski, Charles Wuorinen, Meyer Kupferman and Elliot Carter (coaching his Sonata 1953). Appointed by Lukas Foss to the Milwaukee Symphony, he performed with them in many of the major European concert halls, including the Concertgebouw, Barbican, Gasteig, Bruckner Halle and Vienna’s Grosser Musikvereinsaal.
A member of the Seattle Symphony since 1986, he also serves as principal conductor of the Northwest Sinfonia, working with film composers including BT, Bruce Broughton, Carter Burwell, Elia Cmiral, Jeff Danna, John Debney, Michael Giacchino, Harry Gregson-Williams, Paul Haslinger, Steve Jablonsky, Michael Kaman, Rolfe Kent, John Murphy, David Newman, John Ottman, Basil Poledouris, Trevor Rabin, Ed Shearmur, Brian Tyler, Alex Wurman, Chris Young and Aaron Zigman on the soundtrack recording sessions of hundreds of motion pictures. Recently, he collaborated with composer Gustavo Santaolalla and director Ang Lee on the score to Brokeback Mountain, winner of the Golden Lion (Venice Film Festival), several Golden Globes, and three Oscars including Best Director and Best Original Score. Sabee has been called “confident and colorful” by The New Yorker, while La Nacion, in San Jose, Costa Rica, characterized his Rachmaninov Cello Sonata performance with pianist Yakov Kasman as “infused with insight and passion.”