Meet Our Conductor: Stephen Karr

June 20, 2016 The Center Cannot Hold

Stephen Karr
Conductor, The Center Cannot Hold


Born in Greenville, South Carolina, Stephen Karr is a young conductor and keyboardist establishing himself as a compelling interpreter of a wide variety of orchestral and operatic works. He is a co-founder of Pacific Opera Project and has served as music director and conductor for all thirteen POP productions, often conducting from the harpsichord. He has a long association with Opera UCLA and he served as an assistant conductor and continuo harpsichordist for their production of Agrippina, led by noted lutenist and conductor Stephen Stubbs. He has been on staff at Palm Beach Opera for productions of Glück’s Orfeo and Mozart’s Così fan tutte, and at Opera New Jersey for their production of The Consul. In 2012 Stephen was the music director of the Opera Iowa outreach tour. Stephen has been on staff or taught as a guest artist at Chapman University, Michigan State University and USC.

A Cultural Envoy from the United States Department of State, Stephen made his European debut in September 2009, leading the Rotterdam Youth Symphony and the brass ensemble from Rotterdam’s CODARTS conservatory of music in a program for the city’s annual World Harbor Days festival. Also during the 2009-10 season, Stephen conducted the world premiere production of Kenneth Wells’s The First Lady, an opera based on the life of Eleanor Roosevelt in the weeks following Franklin Roosevelt’s death. He was music director for Con Man, a new musical theater piece by composer Benjamin Boone at the University of Southern California. He assisted Maestro Stubbs in Il Giasone by Francesco Cavalli, the west coast premiere of that work by Opera UCLA. Other highlights include a performance as continuo harpsichordist for Le quattro stagioni with Sarah Chang and the American Youth Symphony; coaching the west coast premiere of Jonathan Dove’s Flight with Opera UCLA; and working as a guest coach and accompanist for the young artist program at Opera Santa Barbara.