Title/Position: Associate Professor, Director of Choral StudiesProfile:
What would you say are the outstanding highlights of your professional life?
I have had the good fortune to conduct concerts in some of the world’s most renowned venues, including Carnegie Hall, the Mormon Tabernacle, the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm, and several of Europe’s greatest cathedrals. However, some of my fondest memories come from my work with All-State Choirs across the country. Seeing a group of high school singers from every possible background in the same room, giving their time to become a single choir is truly where my heart lives.
What advice would you give to an aspiring young musician?
Aristotle had it right: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Not every rehearsal or performance reaches the pinnacle of excellence, nor should it. It is striving that helps us grow as artists and as people.
Describe the perfect performance, either as a participant or as a listener.
Regardless of whether I’m on the podium or in the audience, the best performances always generate an addictive combination of physical exhilaration and emotional exhaustion.
Why did you choose music as a career?
When I was a student, I spent every hour of class looking forward to my one hour of choir and my weekly piano lessons. When I discovered that I could spend all day—every day—immersed in music by becoming a professional musician, all other options paled in comparison.
What do you hope to pass on to your students?
I hope my students will always remain students. My favorite people will always be the life-long learners who take delight in the opportunity to evolve, expanding their knowledge long after their formal educations are complete.
Karen Kennedy is associate professor and director of choral studies at the University of Miami Frost School of Music, where she conducts the Frost Chorale and other choral ensembles. She is also artistic director of the Master Chorale of South Florida. She previously held the positions of chorus director for the Honolulu Symphony, director of choral activities at the University of Hawai`i at Manoa, and director of choral activities at Towson University. She earned a D.M.A. degree in choral music from Arizona State University, a M.M. in choral conducting from Butler University and a B.M. in Music Education from DePauw University. Dr. Kennedy regularly conducts choral festivals featuring major works such as Orff’s Carmina Burana, Durufle’s Requiem, Faure’s Requiem, Mozart’s Great Mass in C Minor and Rutter’s Gloria, to name a few. She has received numerous awards for teaching, including the University of Hawai`i Chancellor’s Citation for Meritorious Teaching, Arizona State University’s Manzanita “Top Prof” Award and Butler University’s Faculty Distinction Award. Dr. Kennedy is well known as a choral clinician and adjudicator for all-state and festival honor choirs. She has presented workshops at ACDA and MENC conventions and served as the ACDA Eastern Division Collegiate Repertoire and Standards Chair and as a founding member of the National Collegiate Choral Organization.