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Carolyn Kuan

Fri 8.2 | Sat 8.3

CAROLYN KUAN, conductor

With her appointment as the 10th Music Director of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra beginning in 11/12, Carolyn Kuan’s reputation as a skilled interpreter and impressive podium presence is recognizable on a national level.  Ms. Kuan has enjoyed long and successful associations with top tier orchestras, opera companies, ballet companies, and festivals worldwide, and continues to distinguish herself as a conductor of extraordinary versatility.  Ms. Kuan’s commitment to contemporary music, both at home in Hartford and as a guest conductor, has defined her approach to programming, and established her as an international resource for new music and world premieres.

Ms. Kuan begins the 13/14 Season by stepping in for Marin Alsop at the Campos do Jordao Music Festival in Brazil, to lead performances of Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with Jennifer Koh, and Stravinsky Rite of Spring.  She returns to the New York City Ballet in September to conduct performances of The Four Temperaments and Symphony in Three Movements. In addition to her weeks with the Hartford Symphony, she will make her debut with the Santa Fe Opera in the world premiere of Huang Ruo’s opera, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen.

Ms. Kuan began the 12/13 season with a special performance and recording of LIFE with the Residentie Orkest at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, which was attended by Queen Beatrix, and received critical international acclaim.  In the Spring, Ms. Kuan made her debut with the Toronto Symphony, conducting performances as part of their New Creations Festival, featuring all new works and premieres by today’s leading composers.  In the spring she lead the Taiwan Philharmonic, NSO in a performance of French repertoire with acclaimed cellist Sol Gabetta.

Ms. Kuan’s recent North America engagements have included performances with the Baltimore, San Francisco, Detroit, Seattle, Milwaukee symphonies; the Florida and Louisville orchestras; the New York City Ballet; Colorado Music Festival; and the New York City Opera.  Recent international engagements have included concerts with the Bournemouth Symphony, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Residentie Orkest, Orquesta Sinfónica de Yucatán, and Royal Danish Ballet.

Carolyn Kuan’s past associations include Associate Conductor of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Artist-in-Residence at the New York City Ballet and Assistant Conductor for the Baltimore Opera Company.  In her debut album released in January 2012, Ms. Kuan conducted the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra for the Naxos label.

While maintaining a very strong connection with traditional repertoire, Carolyn Kuan has cultivated a unique expertise in Asian and contemporary music.  She has led world premiers for Music from Japan and has conducted multimedia productions of the Butterfly Lovers Concerto and A Monkey’s Tale as part of Detroit Symphony’s World Music Series.  She has repeatedly conducted the annual San Francisco Symphony Chinese New Year Concert.  For the Seattle Symphony, Ms. Kuan helped launch the hugely successful Celebrate Asia! program with community leaders representing eight Asian cultures, where she has led sold out performances for three consecutive years.

From 2003 to 2012, Ms. Kuan worked closely with the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, its Music Director Marin Alsop, and visiting composers.  Some of Ms. Kuan’s finest successes have bridged the gap between cultural and social issues, as in her work raising awareness of conservation and the environment through her performances around the globe of the multimedia project Life: A Journey Through Time.  Developed by Marin Alsop and the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, the project features music by Philip Glass and images by famed National Geographic photographer Frans Lanting.  Ms. Kuan’s notable performances of Life include a 2012 concert at the Concertgebouw, attended by the Dutch Royalty, a presentation at the 9th World Wilderness Congress with Orquesta Sinfonica de Yucatan, at the 8 Days in June CHANGE is POWERFUL festival with the Detroit Symphony, and at CERN’s historical Large Hadron Collider Inauguration, with Orchestre de la Suisse Romande attended by Swiss President Pascal Couchepin, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon, more than 20 other European heads of state, and dozens of Nobel laureates.

The recipient of numerous awards, she holds the distinction of being the first female to be awarded the Herbert von Karajan Conducting Fellowship by the Herbert von Karajan Centrum and American Austrian Foundation in 2003, which resulted in her residency at the 2004 Salzburg Festival.  Winner of the first Taki Concordia Fellowship, she has received additional awards from the Women's Philharmonic, Conductors Guild and Susan W. Rose Fund for Music.  Ms. Kuan graduated cum laude from Smith College, received a Master of Music from the University of Illinois and a Performance Diploma from the Peabody Conservatory.

July 2013