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 80 operas and an expansive symphonic repertoire as well. Recent operatic engagements have included productions with Lyric Opera of Chicago, Cincinnati Opera, Kentucky Opera, Madison Opera, Tulsa Opera, Anchorage Opera, Opera Pacific, and Lyric Opera San Diego. Maestro Kuo also led performances of Porgy and Bess on New York Harlem Production's tour of Hamburg, Munich, and Las Palmas.
In 2017, Maestro Kuo was honored to conduct Charlie Parker's Yardbird for the Lyric Opera of Chicago. The Chicago Sun Times stated "Conductor Kelly Kuo and his small but superb orchestra are a seamless match for the singers," and the Chicago Classical Review stated "Conductor Kelly Kuo led the ensemble in a vital performance." 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.
As Artistic Director of Oregon Mozart Players, Maestro Kuo recently extended his contract through 2021, 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, Lexington Philharmonic, Malta Philharmonic Orchestra, 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, DaXun Zhang, David Shifrin, Mary Dunleavy, Bion Tsang, Anton Nel, Bella Hristova, Inbal Segev, Elizabeth Rowe, and Stephen Beus. Kuo has also conducted the world premieres of chamber orchestrations for Jake Heggie's At the Statue of Venus, Daniel Catán's La hija de Rappaccini, as well as the premiere of Daron Hagen's A Woman in Morocco.
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 living pianist to have studied with two pupils of the Russian virtuoso Vladimir Horowitz. Upcoming keyboard performances include the Zenith Chamber Music Festival and recitals with mezzo-soprano Adriana Zabala and baritone Andrew Garland. Maestro Kuo has served on the conducting staff of Los Angeles Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and Opera Pacific. He holds a master's degree in piano performance from the Manhattan School of Music and is an alumnus of the Houston Grand Opera Studio.