Artistic Director & Conductor

Kelly Kuo

The recipient of a 2009 Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award for young conductors, Kelly Kuo is  entering his third season as both Artistic Director of the Oregon Mozart Players and Music Director and Conductor of the Butler Opera Center at The University of Texas at Austin. Praised as a versatile musician with a diverse repertoire including over 75 operas, his work has been described as “colorful and judiciously paced” (Jay Harvey Upstage), a “pleasure to hear” (Anchorage Daily News) and “showing as high a level of ensemble cohesiveness as anyone could demand” (The Register Guard).

Kuo’s recent conducting engagements include a debut with concert:nova, successful returns to the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Cincinnati Opera, Anchorage Opera, and the Malta Philharmonic, and acting as cover conductor for Peter Oundjian with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

In his first year as Artistic Director of the Oregon Mozart Players, Kuo’s artistic vision widened the ensemble’s repertoire to include more recent compositions of Gorecki, Harbison and Golijov in addition to celebrating the familiar by introducing a number of works by Mozart, Haydn, Vivaldi, and Rossini which had never been performed by the group in its history. Their performances have received tremendous reviews recognizing the immediate growth of the ensemble.  In one recent collaboration with the ensemble Kelly was lauded for having “transformed this chamber group into . . . a band of professional, enthusiastic and superior musicians, playing confidently as one unit” (The Register Guard).

Prior to his current positions, Mr. Kuo was Music Director of the Xavier University Chamber Orchestra, Assistant Conductor of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra and, for five years, Assistant Conductor and Artistic Administrator for Opera Pacific. Other engagements have included the Beijing National Centre for the Arts, Festival Euro Mediterraneo, Lexington Philharmonic, Santa Fe Opera, Seattle Opera, and Glimmerglass Opera. He has also conducted operas for Kentucky Opera, Anchorage Opera, Eugene Opera, Lyric Opera San Diego, New England Conservatory, and New York Harlem’s production of Porgy and Bess in Hamburg, Munich, and Las Palmas.

Still active as a keyboardist, his recent performance of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 was described as having been played “with untiring deliberation, especially drawing in the audience during the extended cadenza of the first movement” (The Register Guard) and in his collaboration with the Lexington Philharmonic’s performances of The Four Seasons, “Kuo’s elegant work at the harpsichord was superb. In fact, the most beautiful moment of the entire concert was the second movement of “Fall,” with Kuo’s ravishing solos on the harpsichord’s lute setting” (Lexington Herald-Leader).

Kelly holds a Master in Music in Piano from the Manhattan School of Music and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Oregon, where he majored in both music and Chinese, and he is an alumnus of the Houston Grand Opera Studio. A native of Oregon, he began his musical studies on the violin at the age of five, made his debut as a piano soloist with the Walla Walla Symphony five years later. He counts among his mentors Byron Janis and Dean Kramer, both students of the Russian piano virtuoso, Vladimir Horowitz. Mr. Kuo’s website is www.kellykuo.com.