Karen Kennedy


(305) 284-2241
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About Me


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.  I hope to join my students, both the singers and the conductors, in pursuit of generating unforgettable musical experiences that celebrate, reflect, and challenge our lives and times.


Praised by the San Francisco Classical Voice for her “wizardry with voices” and named by the Honolulu Star Bulletin as “ . . . a popular and charismatic leader,” Karen Kennedy is currently the Director of Choral Studies at the University of Miami where she oversees a vibrant DMA and MM program in choral conducting. Previous to her appointment in Miami, she held positions as the Director of Choral Activities at the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa, Artistic Director of the Honolulu Symphony Chorus, and Director of Choral Studies at Towson University.

In addition to her work in academics, Dr. Kennedy regularly enjoys leading festival performances, recently in notable venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Mormon Tabernacle, the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm, Sweden, St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican in Rome, Canterbury Cathedral in England, and multiple venues in Austria. Upcoming engagements include a return to Carnegie Hall, a musical tour of Vienna, Salzburg, and Prague, and high school and collegiate all-state choirs throughout the country.  Off the podium, Dr. Kennedy is passionate about leading workshops on innovative rehearsal technique, vocal pedagogy and the choral classroom, and music literacy, garnering invitations nationally and internationally for teaching residencies at established festivals and retreats.

Equally at home working with orchestra, Dr. Kennedy has conducted fine ensembles including the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra, the New England Chamber Orchestra, the Miami Symphony, the Boca Raton Philharmonic, and the Symphony of the Americas.  She has prepared choruses for a wide range of events, from performances on MTV to collaborations with the Cleveland Orchestra.  NAXOS will release 2 recordings with her ensembles in spring of 2017, joining her featured choir performance on the Latin Grammy-winning album Juanes:  MTV Unplugged.

Dr. Kennedy 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, Butler University’s Faculty Distinction Award, and is a two-time recipient of the Lawrence Township Schools Superintendent’s Award.  She is a past-president of the Hawai’i Chapter of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), founding member of the National Collegiate Choral Organization (NCCO), a past Repertoire and Standards Chair for Collegiate Choirs in ACDA’s Eastern Division, and maintains an active student ACDA chapter at the University of Miami.

Honors & Acknowledgements

Professional Experience

Career Highlights

  • Multiple Festival Conducting appearances in renowned venues including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm, Canterbury Cathedral, the Vatican, and more.
  • Collaborations with numerous conductors, composers, orchestras and artists of note, including Andrea Bocelli, Juanes, James Newton Howard, Renee Flemming, the Cleveland Orchestra, Honolulu Symphony Orchestra.
  • Guest conductor, clinician, and adjudicator for ensembles from all 50 states and overseas, including All-State and Division Choirs in WA, MD, VA, AK, CA, NH, HI, CO, NY, KY, OR and more.

Honors and Awards

  • Chancellor’s Citation for Meritorious Teaching, University of Hawai’i
  • Manzanita “Top Prof” Award, Arizona State University
  • Faculty Distinction Award, Butler University
  • Presser Award Recipient