HARTFORD, January 18, 2011 – After a two-year search process, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra announced today that Carolyn Kuan has been selected to become the 10th Music Director in its 68-year history. Maestra Kuan has agreed to an initial three-year contract and will begin conducting the HSO on a full-time basis at the start of the 2011-12 performance season in September. Kuan succeeds Edward Cumming, who has served as Music Director since fall 2002 and will conclude his HSO tenure this June.
Read the Hartford Courant editorial on Carolyn Kuan.
Listen to Carolyn Kuan’s interview on WFCR.
Listen to Carolyn Kuan’s Interview on WNPR:
As part of the search process, Kuan was a guest conductor of the HSO on December 2-5, 2010. She will next return to Hartford this March 17-20 to conduct the HSO in the Music Director-Designate concerts at The Bushnell, which will feature works of her selection on the program. Kuan will also conduct the first two concerts (June 24 and July 1) of the 2011 Talcott Mountain Music Festival in Simsbury, which is the HSO’s outdoor summer concert series.
“The Hartford Symphony was one of the most musical orchestras that I have worked with,” Kuan said, referring to her conducting audition last December. “They were engaged, passionate and just fun, fantastic people. I also found the Hartford audience to be open and warm and tremendously caring,” she said. “I can’t imagine a better opportunity for my first music directorship.”
“Carolyn Kuan’s passion for making music, her vision about the role an orchestra plays in improving a community, and her creative programming ideas made her the unanimous choice. We were fortunate to have an excellent pool of candidates and received great feedback from the musicians, board, staff, and audience members. Their comments clearly figured into our final decision,” said Michael Yaffe, chairman of the HSO music director search committee and Associate Dean, Yale School of Music.
Steven Wade, an HSO musicians’ representative on the search committee, concurred that Kuan “showed us amazing energy, an artistry of great nuance and refinement, and a wonderful sense of connection to both the music and the players. Throughout this demanding search process, my colleagues in the orchestra have performed superbly and given each candidate their utmost in engagement, focus, and professionalism. We look forward to giving Hartford audiences great performances with Ms. Kuan for years to come.”
Kristen Phillips, HSO President & CEO, added, ”Carolyn brings to the HSO a unique blend of tradition and innovation, business savvy, and an understanding of how to create deeper engagement and relevance for the 21st century symphony orchestra. I’m very optimistic that the HSO will grow artistically and as an institution under her dynamic, thoughtful leadership.”
About Carolyn Kuan
Carolyn Kuan is increasingly recognized as one of the most exciting, innovative and outstanding conductors of her generation. With explosive passion, impeccable technique and profound musical depth, her performances have included concerts with the Baltimore Symphony, Bournemouth Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Festival del Sole, Florida Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony, New York City Ballet, North Carolina Symphony, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Louisville Orchestra, Orquesta Sinfónica de Yucatán, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Seattle Symphony, Toledo Symphony and San Francisco Symphony, to which she has returned annually since 2007.
A keen advocate of contemporary music, Kuan has worked closely with the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music and Music Director Marin Alsop since 2003. In this same vein, she has conducted world premiers in Merkin Hall New York City for Music from Japan and has served as a producer for multiple recordings of new orchestral compositions. Combining her love for opera and new music, Kuan conducted Inventory (Brian Current) and Dog Days (David Little) at New York City Opera’s 2010 VOX Contemporary American Opera Lab.
Kuan has helped raise awareness of conservation and the environment through the multimedia production, Life: A Journey Through Time. The project, developed by the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, features music by Philip Glass and images by famed photographer Frans Lanting. Kuan’s notable performances have included a presentation at the 9th World Wilderness Congress with Orquesta Sinfonica de Yucatan, and at CERN’s historical Large Hadron Collider Inauguration with Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, which was attended by Swiss President Pascal Couchepin, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon, as well as by more than 20 other European heads of state and dozens of Nobel laureates.
Past associations have seen Kuan as Associate Conductor of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Artist-in-Residence at the New York City Ballet and Assistant Conductor for the Baltimore Opera Company. 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. Kuan, age 33, graduated cum laude from Smith College, received a Master of Music from the University of Illinois and a Performance Diploma from the Peabody Conservatory.
Kuan’s 2010-11 remaining season highlights include debuts with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Symphony Silicon Valley, and Tacoma Opera; and her return to the Baltimore Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, and the Seattle Symphony.
About the HSO Music Director Search
The HSO announced the search for Edward Cumming’s successor in January 2009. The search committee was comprised of nine individuals: three HSO musicians, two administrative staff members, three board members, and one community leader. Each musician member represented a certain section of the orchestra: strings, woodwinds, and brass. From more than 100 candidates, the search process produced seven finalists who were announced in the fall of 2009. To give both the public and the orchestra a chance to hear and compare the finalists, each conducted an entire program of four concerts with the HSO.
The candidates in order of their performances were: Constantine Kitsopoulos (November 2009), Andrew Grams (December 2009), Tito Muñoz (January 2010), Tania Miller (March 2010), Kevin Rhodes (October 2010), Marcelo Lehninger (November 2010) and Carolyn Kuan (December 2010).
The public also responded with a significant online following during the search process. Many thoughtful comments were posted on a blog set up for audience feedback on the HSO’s website at www.hartfordsymphony.org.
Q&A with Carolyn Kuan from the Search Process
What is your vision for the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, and why are you interested in leading it?
“This is both a challenging and thrilling time to take the helm of an American orchestra. As our society moves to a more engaged, participatory one, we must be nimble and adapt to that new paradigm. Community engagement, partnering with local resources, and creating programming that reaches out to draw in new audiences, are top among my goals for the Hartford Symphony. It is important to me to understand the needs of the musicians and the community in order to develop a strategic plan that everyone can support. That will take serious listening and getting to know all the constituents, but I truly enjoy that process because it will give me insight into the hopes and dreams of the institution and the community.”
What role does an orchestra have in today’s culture?
“The role of an orchestra in society is changing to a much more hands-on, experiential, often curated type of role. People want to feel bettered by an experience and we have an opportunity to give them true insight into the creative process. With more and more children getting less exposure to the arts in school, the responsibility falls to us, the orchestra. This is a role that I really enjoy – being the ambassador for the orchestra in the community.”
About the Hartford Symphony Orchestra
Marking its 67th season in 2010-2011, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra is Connecticut’s premier musical organization, the second largest orchestra in New England, and is widely recognized as one of America’s leading regional orchestras. Dedicated to the performance of live symphonic music and the presentation of quality education and community programs, each season the Hartford Symphony plays to audiences numbering approximately 125,000. Supported by more than 4,500 subscribers and 2,000 donors, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra’s extensive array of Musical Pathways educational activities serves more than 64,000 individuals in Hartford and surrounding communities annually. For more information about the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, please visit www.hartfordsymphony.org.
The Hartford Symphony Orchestra receives major support from the Greater Hartford Arts Council, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, and the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism, which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts. Major sponsors include Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center, United Technologies, MetLife Foundation, and the Edward C. and Ann T. Roberts Foundation.
Carolyn Kuan, Music Director-Designate, Hartford Symphony Orchestra
Photographer: Charlie Schuck
Tod Kallenbach, Dornenburg Group, (860) 726-9740, x 102, firstname.lastname@example.org
Katie Bonner, Hartford Symphony, (860) 246-8742, x 317, email@example.com