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This fall, conductor Karen Cooksey began her new role as Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Transylvania University (Lexington, KY) following a summer of judging an international choir competition for the 12th China International Chorus Festival and giving masterclasses at both the International Federation of Choral Music World Youth Choral Education Conference in Beijing and World Choral Symposium in Seoul. In her short time at Transy, Karen has prepared the Transylvania Choir to sing with Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana with the Lexington Philharmonic and led an “Americana”-themed fall concert featuring the men’s and women’s choruses and several faculty instrumentalists.
From 2008 to 2013, she served as Associate Chorus Master at Los Angeles Opera, where she assisted Resident Conductor Grant Gershon and conducted offstage ensembles for Music Director James Conlon, General Director Plácido Domingo, Emmanuel Villaume, and Michele Mariotti. She was First Assistant Conductor for LAO’s 2010 world premiere of Daniel Catán’s Il Postino, which was led by Maestro Gershon, featured Maestro Domingo, and filmed for broadcast on PBS’ Great Performances series and DVD release by Sony Classical.
In 2012, Karen made her New York debut guest conducting the Young People’s Chorus of New York City in Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall and 92nd Street Y’s Kaufmann Hall. Prior to moving to Los Angeles, she served as Director of the Women’s Chorus and Assistant Chorus Director at Earlham College (Richmond, Indiana), Director of the Heartland Choral Festival (Indianapolis, Indiana), Assistant Conductor of the Richmond Symphony Orchestra, Assistant Conductor of the Indianapolis Arts Chorale, among other positions.
At the 3rd International Competition for Young Choir Directors (2004, Vienna), she won second place overall and awards for Best Interpretation of a Modern Work and Best Female Conductor. She was a finalist of the ACDA National Student Conducting Awards (1999, Chicago) and twice a quarterfinalist of the Eric Ericson Awards (2003 and 2009, Uppsala and Stockholm).
She holds degrees from the University of Southern California (DMA Choral Conducting), Indiana University (MM Choral Conducting), and Butler University (BA summa cum laude Music and Philosophy). Her teachers include William Dehning, Magen Solomon, Larry Livingston, Jan Harrington, John Poole, Eric Stark, Stanley DeRusha, and Robert Grechesky.