Carolyn Watson, Ph.D.

Carolyn Watson
University of Illinois,
Interlochen Philharmonic
University of Sydney
Bachelor of Music Education (Honors)
Kodaly Institute, Hungary
Advanced Diploma
University of Sydney
Doctor of Philosophy, Performance - Conducting

About Carolyn

Carolyn Watson, Conductor

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. Recruited internationally as Music Director of the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra, she won the 2015 American Prize for Orchestral Performance with this ensemble.

An experienced conductor of opera, Watson has led Hansel and Gretel for Amarillo Opera and Fellow Travelers and As One at Des Moines Metro Opera. In 2020 she conducted ‘And Still we Dream’ for the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. Carolyn’s 22-23 season sees debuts with the Cape Symphony, Monash Academy Orchestra (Australia), Traverse Symphony Orchestra and Columbus Indiana Philharmonic as a Music Director candidate, as well as return engagements with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City and Kansas City Ballet. 

A major prizewinner at the 2012 Emmerich Kálmán International Operetta Conducting Competition in Budapest, Watson has earned notable European credits while conducting musicians of the Berlin Philharmonic in Interaktion, hosting a residency at the Israeli National Opera, and assisting Sir Charles Mackerras on his final two productions at The Royal Opera, Covent Garden and Glyndebourne.

A committed music educator, Watson currently serves as Director of Orchestras at the University of Illinois whilst continuing to enjoy an active freelance career throughout the US, Europe and Australia. She was a Fellow of the American Academy of Conducting at the Aspen Music Festival. 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, Opera Foundation Australia’s Bayreuth Opera Award, Berlin New Music Opera Award, and the Nelly Apt Conducting Scholarship. She is the beneficiary of support from the American Australian Association's Dame Joan Sutherland Fund and a Sheila Pryor Study Grant from the Australian Opera Auditions Committee.

International conducting credits include the Brandenburger Symphoniker, BBC Concert Orchestra, Budapest Operetta Theatre, Bulgarian State Opera Bourgas, Duna Szimfonikus Budapest, North Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Kammerphilharmonie Graz, Kodály Philharmonia Debrecen, Mihail Jora Philharmonic Romania, Savaria Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and in Russia, the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic.

Australian conducting credits include the Darwin Symphony, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, Melbourne Youth Orchestra, Sydney Symphony, Tasmania Discovery Orchestra and Willoughby Symphony. 

American conducting credits include the Austin Symphony, Catskill Symphony, Detroit Symphony Civic Orchestra, Kansas City Ballet, Kansas City Chamber Orchestra, St. Joseph Symphony, and World Youth Symphony Orchestra.

B.Mus.Ed., M.M., Ph.D - University of Sydney

Advanced Diploma, Kodaly Institute