Review of Lexington Philharmonic concert including collaboration with TU Choir performing Carmina Burana, Lexington Herald-Leader November 15, 2014  [web]

Other than Messiah, there is probably no choral work more frequently performed than Carmina Burana. But for all its ubiquity, I have never heard a tighter or more exciting performance of the work than the Philharmonic offered on Friday night.
The fabulous chorus was a small village of singers assembled from the Berea College Concert Choir, Eastern Kentucky University Singers, the SCAPA (School for Creative and Performing Arts) Children’s Choir, Transylvania University Choir, and the University of Kentucky Chorale. Their vocalism and diction alike were spot on in this impressive demonstration of choral talent.

Articles previewing Transylvania University Choir's Carmina Burana collaboration with LexPhil:

  • UnderMain, November 9, 2014 [web]

Karen Cooksey, Director of the Transylvania University Choir, gives us insight into the choir process for Carmina. Karen is new to Transy and to Lexington, and is very excited about her role in the production.

... How would you describe the subject matter for those who are new to Orff?

Sometimes very bawdy, sometimes risqué, a lot about drinking. Momentous, colossal sound, beside very delicate soprano sounds. The well-known “Day of Wrath” opening is very forceful and identified with death and requiem. It’s also very dance-like. Many people don’t realize Orff actually wrote a trilogy, of which Carmina Burana is a part.

  • Transylvania University's student newspaper The Rambler, October 2, 2014 [web]

Choir Director and Assistant Professor of Music Karen Cooksey said that although people might not recognize the title of this particular piece, its dramatic, emotional melody will be familiar to many students because it is such a frequently used movie-trailer background.

“It’s kind of a classic action movie or apocalyptic movie showpiece,” said Cooksey. “It’s an exciting opportunity for us to get to perform something really really big and collaborative like that, especially with a professional orchestra.”

“Carmina Burana” was adapted by Orff from a collection of Medieval manuscripts, but Cooksey said that the spectrum of human emotion the piece captures is still very relevant today, exploring themes that range from love to lust, from existentialism to inebriation.

“It’s really a very angst-ridden plea for understanding why we are the way we are, and why the human condition is the way it is,” said Cooksey.

[Choir member Justin] Wright credited Cooksey with the success the choir has had with the piece.

“We wouldn’t have gotten there without Cooksey this year,” he said, “I mean, thank God for her, she’s a great conductor and we’ve made leaps and bounds since the beginning of the semester.”

Article previewing Fall Concert "Americana" presented by TU's Singers and Pioneer Voices [web]

"Our Americana concert will be a mosaic made of music," Cooksey said. "Each piece has its own identity, but when performed together they will create a portrait of our country's history and cultural diversity.”

Article on new position, Transylvania University's student newspaper The Rambler, September 18, 2014 [web]

Her background influences her intentions for the future of Transy’s choral program, saying she “hopes to serve as a vocal coach” to encourage healthy singing; she focuses on “teaching the principles” so students can develop skills on their own...
Cooksey wishes to work on projects with other Lexington art and music groups in order to add even more to the already flourishing art community in the city. Her vision for the future of the music program at Transy is one of collaboration and integration between off- and on-campus events and organizations, while encouraging and directing students to make the most out of their collegiate music experience.

Article promoting Family Weekend Concert, Transylvania University website [web]

Choir director Karen Cooksey will make her Transylvania concert debut with the Choir performing excerpts from Carmina Burana by Carl Orff. The Choir will perform the entire piece in November with the Lexington Philharmonic.

Performance review and backstage rehearsal photo with offstage Chorus for a Los Angeles Opera production of Tosca, All is Yar, May, 22, 2013 review [web] [pdf] photo [web] [pdf]

The singers of the Los Angeles Opera Chorus... sounded great and added some atmosphere to the on-stage proceedings.

Articles previewing the Transient Glory Symposium (Carnegie Hall Choral Institute):

Conducting fellow Karen Cooksey (Composition Four Heartfelt Anthems by David Del Tredici) explains that Four Heartfelt Anthems offers its composer "the chance to speak to what he enjoyed about his own childhood and provide a bridge between him and the children performing. The work provides the chorus with a challenge beyond the learning of the basic "do re mi", particularly as the first three anthems are unaccompanied and force the singers to rely on their inner sense of pitch. The third movement, subtitled Fuga, is an excellent early exploration of counterpoint in a more modern guise." The work gives the performer a chance to "be an expressive musician as well as an advanced one."

Review of Tosca presented by Intimate Opera Pasadena, Pasadena Star News, April 17, 2010 [pdf]

Karen Cooksey conducted the large chorus with a fine result...

Review of Christmas Concert presented by the Indianapolis Arts Chorale, Indianapolis Star, December 19, 1999 [pdf]

 ... assistant conductor Karen Cooksey smartly led another a capella number, Jesus Christ the Apple Tree.