With her appointment as the 10th Music Director of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra beginning in 2011-2012, 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 several top tier orchestras and festivals, in addition to close connections with prominent contemporaries in the field, yielding more engagements and projects abroad, including her debut album on Naxos, with the New Zealand Symphony.
While maintaining a solid connection with traditional repertoire, Carolyn Kuan has cultivated a unique expertise in Asian music and contemporary works. 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. Since 2007, she has directed 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.
Since 2003, Ms. Kuan has worked closely with the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, its Music Director Marin Alsop, and visiting composers including John Adams, Mason Bates, John Corigliano, Michael Daugherty, and Jennifer Higdon, to name a few. 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 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.
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. 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 university of Illinois and a Performance Diploma from the Peabody Conservatory.