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Carolyn Watson

Guest Conductor Carolyn Watson on "Our Ocean"

Cape Symphony is thrilled to welcome award-winning guest conductor Carolyn Watson back to the podium. Having led our 2023 Passport Down Under concerts, Carolyn rejoined us for three sold-out shows of Remember When Rock Was Young: The Elton John Experience last month, and will conduct our last Masterpiece performance of the 23/24 concert season, Our Ocean, on June 15 and 16, 2024. Our Ocean, presented in collaboration with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), will celebrate the majesty of the sea and champion its protection.

Watson is Music Director of the La Porte County Symphony Orchestra in Indiana, Principal Guest Conductor of the Kansas City Chamber Orchestra, and Director of Orchestras at the University of Illinois. She holds a PhD in Performance (Conducting) from the University of Sydney. Based in the United States since 2013, she has led performances with symphonies nationwide. An experienced conductor of opera, Carolyn recently led Listen, Wilhemina for the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Hansel and Gretel for Amarillo Opera and Fellow Travelers at Des Moines Metro Opera. In 2020 she conducted And Still We Dream for the Lyric. That production was featured in the Emmy-Award winning PBS documentary Higher Octaves: Leading Women in the Arts.

The twin themes of oceanic magnificence and fragility are deeply important to Carolyn. In her role at the University of Illinois, she created a Climate Change Awareness concert performed in April 2024 by the UI Symphony Orchestra in collaboration with the Department of Climate, Meteorology, and Atmospheric Sciences (CliMAS). CliMAS faculty led a pre-concert panel discussion on climate change.

When the opportunity arose to lead the Cape Symphony Orchestra in a similarly themed concert in collaboration with WHOI, it was clear that great minds think alike. She was happy to accept.

The repertoire for Our Ocean includes masterworks by Felix Mendelssohn, Alan Hovhaness, Benjamin Britten and Claude Debussy, inspired by the majesty of the sea. WHOI scientists will give talks, free to ticketholders, at the Barnstable Performing Arts Center an hour before each performance. On Saturday, June 15, scientists from the Sea Grant Program will round out Cape Cod Coastal Resilience Week with stories of local coastal vulnerability, strength and resilience. On Sunday, June 16, members of the Reef Solutions Team will discuss innovative techniques being used to save corals in crisis.

It is gratifying and encouraging to see arts and sciences coming together to focus on planetary issues that need all our attention. “I care passionately about a number of social causes, and our human footprint on the environment is one of them,” says Carolyn. “I think coming from Australia, a land of such natural beauty and unique flora and fauna, and having grown up between the mountains and the sea, I find solace in natural beauty.”

Here on Cape Cod, we understand that very well.

Come see Carolyn Watson in action with your Cape Symphony Orchestra at the Barnstable Performing Arts Center. Our Ocean will be performed on Saturday, June 15 at 7:30 PM and Sunday, June 16 at 3:00 PM. Secure your seats today! Purchase tickets here.

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