Carolyn Kuan


Opera Theatre of St. Louis


“Philip Glass’s opera The Trial, which received its North American premiere at Opera Theatre St. Louis on Sunday night, has almost everything it needs to be a big success: one of the composer’s best scores, a libretto from Christopher Hampton that captures the essence of the source material, witty and intelligent direction, a solid cast, an excellent conductor, and a fine production. […] Conductor Carolyn Kuan is clearly at home in this idiom and kept the music moving; communication between the stage and pit was excellent.”



“And speaking of a ‘high caliber of ensemble playing,’ conductor Carolyn Kuan worked equal magic in the pit. Maestra Kuan elicited the all-important, pulsating, rhythmically precise orchestral execution, to be sure. She also drew an abundance of color from her players and singers alike, achieving a varied palette of satisfying musical effects. In a score that has a fair share of twitchy, angular components, Ms. Kuan managed to cue each and every entrance with an incredible accuracy.”




Hartford Symphony


"Only major orchestras play the Faust Symphony, and it is not common fare even among them. The HSO played the work brilliantly. The big music was big, and the delicate solos and chamber textures were tasty and refined. Kuan took the third movement with a light touch and the humor and satire of the music popped. [...] This was a bold program. It was gutsy, risky and complicated. It was insightful and memorable. I have never seen anything quite like it. It was thrilling."




Ouroboros Trilogy/Beth Morrison Projects (Boston)

"Conductor Carolyn Kuan was simultaneously fluid and precise ..."                            



"Carolyn Kuan cleanly directed the orchestral waters where they needed to go, with minimal sonic flooding."




Seattle Symphony

"[Kuan] shaped the Symphony No. 1, subtitled 'Winter Dreams,' with impressive panache, cannily blending romantic passion with classical poise. The symphony duly made its impact as a work of precocious mastery, the best of the three Tchaikovsky symphonies that preceded the great final sequence numbered Four through Six. Kuan's repertoire of gesture and body language elicited a correspondingly well-characterized range of expression from the orchestra, vividly realizing the variety of texture that coexists in the music with a continuity of mood that the composer didn't always achieve."




Hartford Symphony Orchestra


"When orchestral music and dance are combined in concert-style programs there are unique challenges for dancers and musicians alike ... The audience was blown away ... Kuan excels at imagining, coordinating and actualizing collaborative programs, and this one was special."





Memphis Symphony Orchestra


“…the personable Kuan was especially impressive with the baton, leading with authority and grace and pulling delicious performances from the orchestra.”




Seattle Symphony


“Rarely does one hear such clarity, balance, a crystalline sound. Every note was handsomely placed and every phrase handsomely molded.”




Seattle Symphony 


“She is an adroit leader, a capable and sensitive accompanist (in the concerto), and a multitasking whiz who was completely on top of the Requiem score – cueing (and singing with) the Seattle Symphony Chorale, and leading the orchestra with taut, punchy gestures that conveyed the music’s energy and urgency.”