Hartford Symphony Orchestra announces extension of Music Director Carolyn Kuan’s contract through May 2024

The Hartford Symphony Orchestra announced today that HSO Music Director Carolyn Kuan has signed a new, two-year contract that will continue her commitment to the HSO through May 2024. Maestra Kuan was chosen as HSO’s 10th Music Director in 2011. Her initial three-year contract was extended for two additional years in 2014, and then for an additional six years in 2015. Her new contract begins with the 2022-2023 season.

The HSO is celebrating Maestra Kuan’s 10th anniversary season in 2020-2021.

For the past decade, Maestra Kuan has elevated the artistic excellence of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra through exceptional and innovative programming. She has introduced repertoire featuring unique instruments to HSO audiences, including the koto, a traditional Japanese stringed instrument, and the pipa, a Chinese lute, as well as Scottish bagpipes. She has welcomed a wide and diverse range of special guests to join the HSO including dancers, actors, puppeteers, and visual artists, and incorporated a vast array of multimedia content into performances throughout her tenure. She has created artistic partnerships with dozens of local artists and arts organizations, establishing herself as an invaluable arts leader in the city of Hartford.

In recent years, Maestra Kuan created and curated HSO: Intermix, a series of intimate concerts at nontraditional venues like breweries, coffee houses and art galleries, featuring HSO ensembles performing both classical and contemporary music in social settings.

When the HSO had to cancel all live programming beginning in March 2020 due to COVID-19, she was integral in immediately pivoting the orchestra to virtual programming, including developing the Masterworks In-Depth with Carolyn Kuan series, a monthly online deep-dive into the programming originally scheduled for the 2020-2021 season, hosted by Maestra Kuan and featuring special guests.

“I am honored to continue serving the Hartford Symphony Orchestra in my role as Music Director,” Maestra Kuan said. “The past 10 years have been truly fulfilling, and it is a privilege to work with our amazing musicians, our Board and staff, and this incredible community. As we emerge from over a year when we were unable to connect with and perform for our audiences in person, I am so energized and excited to return to the stage, and present diverse and innovative concerts for our HSO community once again.”

“We are thrilled that Carolyn has agreed to a two-year extension of her contract,” said HSO Board of Directors Chairman, Jeff Verney. “During her 10 years with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, Carolyn has become a pillar of the greater Hartford artistic community, bringing extraordinary music to audiences, collaborating with many of our artistic institutions, and always exuding joy and passion on the podium as she conducts the wonderful musicians of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.”

“It is so important for an orchestra’s Executive Director and Music Director to have a productive partnership – and I couldn’t ask for a better partner than Carolyn,” said HSO Executive Director Steve Collins. “I am so grateful for her work with the orchestra and our entire team, pushing us to ever greater heights.  Bravo Carolyn!”

“The Musicians of the HSO look forward to live performances once again as we continue our journey with Maestra Kuan during her continued tenure as Music Director,” said HSO Principal Bass Edward R. Rozie.

“On behalf of The Hartford Chorale, one of the Hartford Symphony’s performance partners, I am delighted to respond to the news of the extension of the orchestra’s contract with Maestra Carolyn Kuan,” said Hartford Chorale Music Director Richard Coffey. “The members of the Chorale are constantly supercharged with eagerness and enthusiasm during Carolyn’s rehearsals, and we are grateful for her love of vocal and choral music.

“Likewise, performances under Carolyn’s direction bring forth from the Chorale every possible ounce of attention, devotion, and dedication to the cause,” Coffey continued. “She is an inspiration, and we always seek to be an inspiration in return.  Congratulations, Carolyn!”

“During her time at the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, Carolyn Kuan has re-envisioned possibilities for artistic and community collaboration,” said New Britain Museum of American Art Director and CEO Min Jung Kim. “Her profound knowledge of traditional musical repertoire, her fearless creativity, and her collaborative spirit have defined her as one of the most visionary and impactful artistic leaders in the region. The New Britain Museum of American Art has been delighted to partner with Carolyn and the HSO through dynamic experiences of music, performance, and art conceived for audiences of all backgrounds. We look forward to many more collaborations with Carolyn in the years to come.”

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The Bushnell: 166 Capitol Ave. Hartford, CT 06106