Carolyn Watson is Principal Guest Conductor of the Kansas City Chamber Orchestra and has recently completed her first season as Music Director of the La Porte County Symphony Orchestra in Indiana. Originally from Australia, she has been based in the United States since 2013, leading performances with the Austin Symphony, Detroit Symphony Civic Orchestra, Interlochen Philharmonic, Kansas City Ballet, Kansas City Chamber Orchestra, and World Youth Symphony Orchestra.
Recruited internationally as Music Director of the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra, she won the 2015 American Prize for Orchestral Performance with this ensemble, also collaborating with soloists including Mark O’Connor and Alexandre Tharaud during her tenure. Carolyn enjoys an ongoing association with Interlochen as conducting faculty at Interlochen Arts Camp, Interlochen College of Creative Arts, and for Interlochen Online.
An experienced conductor of opera, recent engagements have seen Carolyn lead 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 Opera of Kansas City, her third engagement for the Lyric in as many years. This production was featured in the Emmy-Award winning PBS documentary, Higher Octaves: Leading Women in the Arts.
A committed music educator, Carolyn currently serves as Director of Orchestras at the University of Illinois. Carolyn is the recipient of a number of prestigious national and international awards for young conductors including the Brian Stacey Award for emerging Australian conductors, Sir Charles Mackerras Conducting Prize awarded via the Australian Music Foundation in London, Opera Foundation Australia’s Bayreuth Opera Award, Berlin New Music Opera Award, and the Nelly Apt Conducting Scholarship. Carolyn holds a PhD in Performance (Conducting) from the University of Sydney.
To learn more about Carolyn, visit her website.