Praised by the Cincinnati Enquirer as “a leader of exceptional musical gifts, who has a clear technique on the podium and an impressive rapport with audiences,” Maestro Kelly Kuo brings a dynamic versatility and nuance to a diverse repertoire, which includes over 90 operas and an expansive symphonic repertoire as well. Recent operatic engagements include Lyric Opera of Chicago, Seattle Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Indianapolis Opera, Kentucky Opera, Anchorage Opera, and the Janiec Opera Company of the Brevard Music Center. In 2008, Maestro Kuo became the first conductor of Asian descent to lead a performance at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, making his company debut with Porgy and Bess. He has since returned to lead the Chicago premiere of Charlie Parker’s Yardbird and performances featuring artists of the Ryan Opera Center.
Upcoming engagements include company debuts with Carmen for Opera Orlando, Don Giovanni for Opera Columbus, and concerts with the Reno Chamber Orchestra and Sunriver Music Festival. Regarding Maestro Kuo’s conducting of Charlie Parker's Yardbird for the Lyric Opera of Chicago and Seattle Opera, the Chicago Sun Times stated, "Conductor Kelly Kuo and his small but superb orchestra are a seamless match for the singers,” and Bachtrack wrote, “Debuting conductor Kelly Kuo skillfully handled the well-selected 24-piece ensemble in the enormously complex score.” Of his production of Macbeth at Anchorage Opera, the Anchorage Daily news noted “Top honors should probably go to conductor Kelly Kuo. The sound… was full and taut as Kuo brought out the drama and lyricism. The orchestra played with robust enthusiasm and accuracy.” And of his La traviata for Kentucky Opera, critics stated "Conductor Kelly Kuo led the Louisville Orchestra Friday with considerable verve, and no shortage of idiomatic delicacy…the sound was balanced and quite full.” Maestro Kuo also led critically praised new productions of Philip Glass' Galileo Galilei for both Madison Opera and Cincinnati Opera and has served as Music Director and Conductor of the Butler Opera Center at The University of Texas at Austin and on the conducting staff of Santa Fe Opera. World premieres conducted by Maestro Kuo include chamber orchestrations for Jake Heggie’s At the Statue of Venus and Daniel Catán’s La hija de Rappaccini, in addition to the premiere of Daron Hagen’s A Woman in Morocco.
As Artistic Director of Oregon Mozart Players, Maestro Kuo recently extended his contract through 2024, having “transformed this chamber group into...a band of professional, enthusiastic, and superior musicians, playing confidently as one unit" (The Register Guard). Recent symphonic engagements have included concerts with Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Malta Philharmonic Orchestra, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Lexington Philharmonic, and Ballet Fantastique. Maestro Kuo also curated and conducted the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra’s inaugural Summermusik festival as Interim Music Director. Maestro Kuo has collaborated with such soloists as Cho-Liang Lin, Mark Kosower, David Shifrin, Mary Dunleavy, Bion Tsang, Anton Nel, Bella Hristova, Inbal Segev, and Elizabeth Rowe.
An Oregon native and recipient of a Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistant Award for young conductors, Kuo continues to concertize as a keyboardist as the only pianist to have studied with two pupils of the Russian virtuoso Vladimir Horowitz. He is the resident pianist for the Zenith Chamber Music Festival and regularly performs recitals with the Kasarah Trio. Maestro Kuo holds a master’s degree in piano performance from the Manhattan School of Music and is an alumnus of the Houston Grand Opera Studio.