“Youth” – Oregon Mozart Players
“A better season closer (Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony) could not have been imagined or anticipated: the Oregon Mozart Players absolutely shined in this performance. The piece kicked off with a perfectly executed staccato strike followed by an exercise in dynamism with clear, effervescent piano sections against furiouso, Haydn-esque forte sections. The woodwinds were especially of note in this piece, with showcasing of each instrument pairing. The flutes and clarinets aptly traded off melodies, while the bassoons expertly negotiated tricky and exposed arpeggios. The horns and trumpets displayed flawless legato and control. These instruments combined with an especially notably sensitivity in the strings, particularly the first violins. The result was a performance which was clean but not sterile, expressive but not overtly emotional.”
-Alison Kaufman, The Register Guard, May 10, 2017
Charlie Parker’s Yardbird – Lyric Opera of Chicago
“Conductor Kelly Kuo and his small but superb orchestra are a seamless match for the singers in this work.”
-Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times, March 25, 2017
“Conductor Kelly Kuo led the 16-member chamber ensemble in a vital performance that sounded well-prepared and coordinated with the stage action.”
-Lawrence A. Johnson, Chicago Classical Review, March 25, 2017
“Lyric’s instrumentalists are pure perfection, and under the steady direction of Kelly Kuo, they weave their way through Schnyder’s dark, jazzy music.”
-Peter Thomas Ricci, In the Loop Magazine, March 25, 2017
“Yet there is grace in this tragedy – grace in the sound of Bird’s inimitable horn reflected through the prism of a 16-piece orchestra under the fluent leadership of Kelly Kuo.”
-Lawrence Johnson, Chicago on the Aisle, March 26, 2017
“Tales from a Floating World” – Ballet Fantastique (Tan Dun: Crouching Tiger Concerto)
“Anyone familiar with the 2000 Ang Lee film knows Tan Dun’s breathtaking cinema score, played here with ferocious appeal by OMP, with (DaXun) Zhang leading the way.”
-Rachel Carnes, Eugene Weekly, March 9, 2017
“Conductor Kelly Kuo led his orchestra through the challenging music with a steady hand and a positive aura. He seemed to particularly enjoy conducting the large percussion section which played with a thundering, driving pulse in several fight section…Overall, this collaboration between Ballet Fantastique and the Oregon Mozart Players was well-crafted and wonderfully realized. Hopefully more projects will occur in the future.”
-Alison Kaufman, The Register Guard, March 6, 2017
“Passione” – Oregon Mozart Players
“The evening began with a well-executed version of Haydn’s Symphony No. 45, nicknamed “La passione…” The second movement caused a significant change within the audience and the orchestra. Where the first movement was unhurried, refined, and dark, the second movement’s relentless pace and implacable anxiety firmly gripped the audience’s attention – more than any other performance of Haydn I have ever seen. Of note within the Haydn performance were the horns and oboes in the third movement, who navigated very exposed passages with precision and clarity, as well as the entire orchestra’ dedication to dynamic contrast within the finale presto…Overall, this wide-ranging program was a huge success and a fabulous start to the new year for Oregon Mozart Players.”
-Alison Kaufman, The Register Guard, February 15, 2017
"Inspiration" - Oregon Mozart Players
"The ensemble executed (Strauss' Dance Suite after Couperin) gallantly and adroitly, with outstanding solo contributions from the string principals and several woodwind players...Clear textures and handsome woodwind solos in the outer sections (of the Korngold) and richly expressive string playing in the dreamy middle section made for a satisfying performance."
-Terry McQuilkin, The Register Guard, November 8, 2016
“The Food of Love” – Oregon Mozart Players
“Since Artistic Director Kelly Kuo’s tenure began in 2013, he has elevated this group of musicians to an elegant and well-oiled musical machine…Throughout the concert, precise cues, eye contact and occasional smiles between Kuo and the musicians elicited and ensemble sound evidenced in the strings by perfectly unison bowings and clean articulations…Musically speaking, the Shostakovich performance was stellar; the intricate syncopations in the low strings and constant shifts of musical character were handled with panache.”
-Heather Holmquest, The Register Guard, February 9, 2016
Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra
"Kuo had his small orchestra in lock step with his soloist...Kuo easily had his forces maintain the vaunted reputation they've gained."
-Tom Aldridge: NUVO, November 23, 2015
"Homecoming" - Oregon Mozart Players
"The concert concluded with a highly energized, forward-moving performance of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 in C Major. Even with no more than three dozen players, the forte passages had plenty of heft, while softer sections were delivered with subtlety and nuance.
Entrances sounded clean, and the musicians — even when they delivered the treacherous semiquavers in the numerous high-octane passages found in the “Allegro molto e viva,” — played with arresting precision."
-Terry McQuilken: The Register Guard, November 10, 2015
"Playing with Fire" - Oregon Mozart Players
"Kelly Kuo conducted a passionate pageant of W.A. Mozart and F.J. Haydn works that enraptured both the audience and his orchestra."
-Alison Kaufman: The Register Guard, October 6, 2015
"Storm of Strings" - Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra
"Bravo to conductor Kelly Kuo, whose candidacy for Music Director of the CCO should be beyond question after last night’s music making. The young maestro’s casual, self-effacing manner (on and off the podium) belies rock solid musicianship, not to mention a total dedication to eliciting the best sound from what should be his orchestra."
-Rafael de Acha: Scene and Heard International, September 9, 2015
"He is a leader of exceptional musical gifts, who has a clear technique on the podium and an impressive rapport with audiences. As has been the case all season, the musicians performed exceedingly well for him."
-Janelle Gelfand: Cincinnati Enquirer, September 4, 2015
Mozart Symphony No. 35 "Haffner" - Oregon Mozart Players
"Technical fluency and boundless energy marked this reading, and the ensemble remained tight and cohesive throughout."
-Terry McQuilken: The Register Guard, May 11, 2015
"Vive la France - Oregon Mozart Players
"An almost explosive level of vigor made for an energetic and satisfying concert opener."
-Terry McQuilken: The Register Guard, November 25, 2014
"What really made the Chopin so wonderful was the perfect musical exchange between soloist and orchestra. The music flowed from the piano to the strings and back, as if played by a single musician."
-Bob Keefer: Eugene Art Talk, November 24, 2014
"Galileo Galilei" - Cincinnati Opera
"In the pit, conductor Kelly Kuo led a nuanced performance of Glass' score...Kuo partnered seemlessly with the singers."
-Janelle Gelfand: Cincinnati Enquirer, July 12, 2013
"Conductor Kelly Kuo, in his Cincinnati Opera debut, led skillfully in the pit...balances between stage and pit were excellent."
-Mary Ellyn Hutton: Music in Cincinnati, July 12, 2013
"The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's accompaniment from the pit seemed colorful and judiciously paced under the baton of Kelly Kuo."
- Jay Harvey Upstage, July 12, 2013