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Marika Kuzma (Choeal Conductor)

Born: Hartford, Connecticut, USA

The American choral conductor, composer and music pedagogue, Marika Kuzma, studied at Loomis Chaffee School in Windsor, Connecticut (Class of 1977). She began her music studies in voice and violin in Hartford, Connecticut at the Hartt School of Music She obtained her Baschelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance (with highest honors) from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1981); her Master of Arts degree in Choral Directing and Performance Practice from Stanford University (1986); anf her Doctor of Music in Choral Conducting from Indiana University School of Music in Bloomington (1992), studying with Jan Harrington and Robert Porco; She also attened the Aspen Music School in Aspen Colorado (Summers 1979, 1988, 1989: Orchestral Conducting under Paul Vermel); Salzburg Mozarteum in Salzburg Austria (Summer 1981: German Lieder); Die Hochschule für Musik in Vienna Austria (1981-1982: Vocal Study); and International Conducting Institute in Kiev Ukraine (1997). She studied at those summer programs with Volodymyr Kolesnyk and Gustav Meier.

Marika Kuzma has been the director of choirs at University oif California at Berkeley (UCB) since 1990. She has served there as Professor of Music (1990-Present); Music Director Chamber Chorus of the University of California (30-voice) (1994-Present); Music Director University Chorus (90-voice) (1990-present); Interim Director University Symphony (Spring 1992);; Courses taught in conducting and in music history and literature. While in Berkeley, she has gained acclaim in the San Francisco Bay Area as a versatile conductor, leading her student choirs in works ranging from the Dufay to W.A. Mozart, Verdi, Messiaen, and premieres of new works. Under her direction, the University Chorus has been invited to perform with professional ensembles such as the Berkeley Symphony under Kent Nagano, Midsummer Mozart Festival under George Cleve, Oakland East Bay Symphony under Michael Morgan. She has prepared the Chamber Chorus of the University of California for frequent collaborations with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra under Nicholas McGegan and Jane Glover. The Chamber Chorus of the University of California has joined the Mark Morris Dance Group in premiere productions of George Frideric Handel's L’Allegro, Rameau's Platée and, most recently, Purcell's King Arthur, receiving enthusiastic reviews from the San Francisco Chronicle, Opera News, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal alike. In 2006, it was invited to Brazil to perform the J.S. Bach's Matthäus-Passion (BWV 244) with the Youth Orchestra of the Americas. Her close study of artsong lends a particular sensitivity to text and vocal inflection in her choirs. Her Berkeley choirs have been described as “excellent” (New York Times), “electric” (San Francisco Chronicle) “resonant” (Washington Post). “The UC Chamber Chorus leaves no syllable unarticulated and no musical marvel unexplored.” (San Francisco Examiner). At the end of 2016 she retires from the university choirs.

Oher academic appointments and engagements include: Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana (Invited Lectures 2008, 2006, 1996); Oklahoma City University (Guest Conductor 2003); Tchaikovsky Conservatory of Music in Moscow, Russia (Invited lectures, 2001); University of Virginia (Visiting Professor, 2000-2001); Tchaikovsky Conservatory of Music in Kiev, Ukraine (Invited lectures, 1999, 1997); Holy Names College in Oakland, California (Guest Professor in Conducting, 1998); Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire (Visiting Professor, 1997); Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, California (Courses in Conducting, 1995); Amherst Early Music Festival (Collegium Director, 1994).

Outside of the Berkeley choirs, Marika Kuzma has guest directed such varied choirs as the Montreal Symphony Chorus (2007-2008) as well as the St. Lawrence Choir in Montreal, the Oakland Symphony Chorus (Fall 2004), the Oklahoma City University Chorus (Spring 2002), University Singers at the University of Virginia (2000-2001), and Handel Society of Dartmouth College (Winter 1997). As an instrumental conductor, she has also conducted the Bay Area Women’s Philharmonic, Berkeley Symphony (with whom she co-conducted the American premiere of Takemitsu Gemeaux alongside maestro Kent Nagano), and the National Orchestra of Ukraine. In contemporary music, she has conducted world premieres and west-coast premieres of works by Lou Karchin, Steve Reich, Jody Rockmaker, and Frederic Rzewski, John Thow, and Jorge Liderman with the Chamber Chorus of the University of California, Earplay, and Composers Inc.

In the realm of Early Music, Marika Kuzma was an assistant the late Thomas Binkley and Indiana University Pro Arte Singers, has directed the Collegium at the Amherst Early Music Festival, and led a “chant-along” for the San Francisco Early Music Society at Grace Cathedral. Along with preparing choirs for Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, she herself has enjoyed directing ensembles of authentic instruments in works such as J.S. Bach's Matthäus-Passion (BWV 244), Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610, etc.

Of Ukrainian descent, Marika Kuzma has a special affinity for Slavic choral music. Her dissertation on the music of Dmitry Bortniansky won the American Choral Directors Association Herford Prize (2002), and her edition of the 35 Bortniansky choral concertos will be published in 2009. She has been invited to write articles for prestigious journals such as the Journal of Musicology and the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians and to give talks at the Kiev and Moscow Conservatories. Her recording Icons of Slavic Music is acclaimed in the Americas and Eastern Europe alike. She has served as a Russian and Ukrainian language consultant to the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Chanticleer, and other Bay Area choirs.

Honors & Awards: John Motley Morehead Scholar (1977-1981); Phi Beta Kappa (1979); Pi Kappa Lambda (1989); Finalist for Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Award (1991); ulius Herford Prize, American Choral Directors Association (1993); Virginia Chan Lew Associate Professor of Music (2001); Song of Songs CD nominated for Grammy Award (2003).

Source: University of Calfornia at Berkeley Website; Marika Kuzma profile opn Facebook; Marika Kuzma Website (N/A; Version from August 1, 2015)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (October 2016)

Marika Kuzma: Shor Biography | Recordings of Vocal Works

Links to other Sites

Marika Kuzma (UCB)

Maarika Kuzma on Facebook

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