Hartford Symphony Orchestra Music Director Carolyn Kuan Signs New Six-Year Contract

Contract Approved by HSO Board of Directors on April 15

Carolyn Kuan, Music Director, Hartford Symphony Orchestra; Photographer: Jane Shauck

HARTFORD, April 15, 2015 – The Hartford Symphony Orchestra (HSO) announced today that Hartford Symphony Orchestra Music Director Carolyn Kuan has signed a new, six-year contract that will continue her commitment to the Hartford Symphony through May, 2022. Maestra Kuan was chosen as HSO’s 10th Music Director in 2011, and extended her initial three-year contract for two additional years in 2014. Her new contract begins with the 2016-2017 season.

Since 2011, Maestra Kuan has elevated the artistic excellence of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra through exceptional programming including this season’s year-long exploration of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 4, which will culminate with performances of that work in May. She has introduced repertoire featuring Asian instruments to HSO audiences, including the koto, a traditional Japanese stringed instrument, and the pipa, a Chinese lute, and in 2012, the orchestra performed Xian’s Yellow River Cantata, featuring the Kang Hua Singers of Greater Hartford and the Hartford Chorale, which was recorded for news broadcast in China. In 2013, she led the New England premiere of Life: A Journey Through Time, a multimedia performance with the music of Phillip Glass and photographs by National Geographic photographer Frans Lanting. Under her direction the HSO held its first composition competition, Fanfare for the Hartford Woman, in 2015.

Maestra Kuan is currently developing the upcoming multimedia-enhanced Love Notes concerts in February 2016 and dramatic concert staging of Orpheus & Euridice: Transformed in April 2016.

Maestra Kuan has also increased and strengthened the HSO’s ties to community organizations, including collaborating with Hartford Stage for a staged concert of A Midsummer’s Night Dream in 2014, the Wadsworth Atheneum, whose Coney Island exhibit was featured during HSO’s February 2015 Masterworks concerts, dance organizations like The Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory and Full Force Dance Theater, who performed with the HSO in April 2015 for Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty, a selection of area fine dining restaurants for the orchestra’s annual Playing with Food concert, and a number of important organizations including the Hartford Chorale, CONCORA, Asylum Hill Congregational Church, First Cathedral, Beth El Temple, Congregation Beth Israel, and more.

“I am thrilled that Maestra Kuan has dedicated herself to another six years with the Hartford Symphony,” said David Fay, President & CEO of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. “The Hartford Symphony, as well as the Hartford community, benefit tremendously from her leadership and immense talent. Her vision for the Hartford Symphony Orchestra ensures that it remains an integral part of the fabric of our city’s 21st century arts scene.”

“It is an honor to serve the Hartford Symphony Orchestra as Music Director,” said Kuan. “Working with our amazing musicians, whose artistry and dedication mean the world to me, as well as with a devoted Board of Directors and staff, has made my experience here in Hartford truly fulfilling. In addition, I have loved sharing music with our loyal audiences, and am passionate about collaborating with some fantastic arts groups in our community. Hartford is fortunate to have such a wonderful and diverse group of artists, and I’m grateful to have the opportunity to join forces with them. I’m very excited about the future of the HSO,” Kuan continued. “We are dedicated to expanding our programming to enchant both our traditional audiences and draw in new audiences of all ages and interests. We want our audiences to experience symphonic and classical concerts in a way they never have before.”

“The musicians of the Hartford Symphony are delighted that Carolyn Kuan has decided to extend her tenure with the Symphony, and to make Hartford her home for the next several years,” said Greig Shearer, principal flutist and Chairman of the Orchestra Committee for the HSO. “Her proven ability to excite audiences of all ages with her dynamic programming, and her commitment to education and community outreach, are qualities which will help the HSO realize its potential as a 21st century orchestra, enriching the lives of an ever-expanding audience.”

“The Hartford Symphony Orchestra has reaped great rewards as a result of Maestra Kuan’s tireless creative energy,” said James Remis, Chairman of the HSO Board of Directors. “Her passion for music, her boundless talent, and her commitment to the orchestra has made her an incomparable asset to the HSO family and the entire community, and I am ecstatic to see where she takes us over the next seven years.

“This isn’t just a contract, it’s a love affair between Carolyn and Hartford, and we feel like the proud parents whose child just made a great match,” said Bob Patricelli, Chairman of The Bushnell Board of Directors.

In the words of Hartford Stage Artistic Director Darko Tresnjak, “Over the past four years, I have had the great pleasure of getting to know Carolyn Kuan as an artist, a collaborator, and a friend. I am thrilled that she will continue to thrive in our community and will lead Hartford Symphony to ever greater heights.”

“Carolyn Kuan’s creative vision goes beyond the orchestra.  She has chosen Hartford as her home so that she and the HSO can play an integral role in the renaissance of our capital region,” said Donna Collins, Associate Publisher of the Hartford Business Journal Her passion for engaging and exciting audiences is demonstrated by the many creative community collaborations she has forged including the Hartford Stage, Wadsworth Atheneum, local, professional and student choruses and dancers. With Carolyn Kuan’s artistic and innovative influence, we all have much to look forward to as Hartford’s star continues to rise!”

“Carolyn is not only an exceptionally talented conductor, she is also an invaluable colleague,” said Robin Jaffee Frank, Chief Curator and Krieble Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. “Her generosity of spirit expresses itself through her many collaborations with the Wadsworth Atheneum on engaging and innovative programming that seamlessly integrates visual art and music. It is a joy to partner with someone passionate about the role of all the arts in enriching our wonderful city.”

About Carolyn Kuan

Recognized as a conductor of extraordinary versatility, Carolyn Kuan has enjoyed successful associations with top tier orchestras, opera companies, ballet companies, and festivals worldwide. Her commitment to contemporary music has defined her approach to programming, and established her as an international resource for new music and world premieres.

Ms. Kuan’s recent North American engagements have included performances with the symphonies of Baltimore, Detroit, Milwaukee, San Francisco, and Seattle; the Florida and Louisville orchestras; the New York City Ballet; Colorado Music Festival; the New York City Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and Washington National Opera. Recent international engagements have included concerts with the Bournemouth Symphony, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Hong Kong Philharmonic, National Symphony of Taiwan, Residentie Orkest, Orquesta Sinfonica de Yucatan, Royal Danish Ballet, West Australian Symphony, and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

Combining her expertise and love of contemporary and Asian music, Ms. Kuan began the 2014/2015 Season in a summer-long debut with the Santa Fe Opera. Working closely with composer Huang Ruo and director James Robinson, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen premiered to great critical acclaim with a mixed cast of east and west singers and instrumentalists. In addition to her weeks with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, other highlights include her debut with the Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center in Daniel Catan’s Florencia en el Amazonas, directed by Francesca Zambello; her return to the Seattle Symphony to lead works by Tan Dun, Yugo Kanno (U.S. Premiere), and Unsuk Chin; her return to Brazil to work with Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo in a program of Britten, Turnage, and Bernstein; and her debut with the Glimmerglass Festival in a new production of The Magic Flute.

While maintaining a solid connection with traditional repertoire, Ms. Kuan has cultivated a unique expertise in Asian music and contemporary works. From 2007 to 2012, Ms. Kuan directed the annual San Francisco Symphony Chinese New Year concert. For the Seattle Symphony, Ms. Kuan helped launched the hugely successful Celebrate Asia! program with community leaders representing eight Asian cultures, and led sold-out performances for three consecutive years. She has led would 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.

From 2003 to 2012, Ms. Kuan worked closely with the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music and visiting composers. Some of her 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 the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music and music director Marin Alsop, 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 Ninth World Wilderness Congress with Orquesta Sinfonica de Yucatan; at the eight-day June festival, CHANGE IS POWERFUL, with the Detroit Symphony; and at CERN’s historical Large Hadron Collider Inauguration, with Orchestre de la Suisse Romande attended by Swiss President Pascal Couchpin, French Prime Minister François 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. In her 2012 debut album for the Naxos label, Ms. Kuan conducted the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in various works by Chinese composers.

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, resulting 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.


About the Hartford Symphony Orchestra

About the Hartford Symphony Orchestra: Marking its 72st Season in 2015-2016, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra is Connecticut’s premier musical organization. The Hartford Symphony is the second largest orchestra in New England and is widely recognized as one of America’s leading regional orchestras. We believe passionately in the performance of live symphonic music and its value in the community. To that end, the mission of the HSO is to perform live orchestral music of the highest quality for ever-expanding audiences and to increase, through its educational programs, the understanding and enjoyment of that music by residents of Connecticut. The Hartford Symphony Orchestra named Carolyn Kuan as its tenth music director in January 2011; she is the first woman and youngest person to hold this title. She began her tenure with the HSO in the fall of 2011. The HSO presents more than 100 concerts annually, including the Masterworks Series, POPS! Series, Sunday Serenades, Jazz & Strings, Lincoln Financial Discovery Concerts, Symphony in the Schools, Neighborhood Concerts, Musical Dialogues, Musical Connections, and more. In addition, the HSO presents the popular summer series, the Talcott Mountain Music Festival in Simsbury.

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