Stephen Karr

Assistant Professor, Opera Musical Director

(901) 678-2451
MU 239
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  • D.M.A., Doctor of Musical Arts, University of California, Los Angeles, 2020
  • M.M., Master of Music, Instrumental Conducting, University of California, Los Angeles, 2009
  • M.M., Master of Music, Organ Performance, Westminster Choir College, 2004
  • B.M., Bachelor of Music, Mercer University, 2002


Karr is a compelling interpreter of opera and orchestral works, having appeared as guest conductor in recent seasons with Anchorage Opera and Sacramento
Philharmonic and Opera. He has been on staff with opera companies across the United States, including Des Moines Metro Opera’s OPERA Iowa tour, the
Glimmerglass Festival, Opera New Jersey and Palm Beach Opera.

His international appearances include the Royal Opera House in Muscat, Oman and an appointment as Cultural Envoy from the United States Department of State to Rotterdam. He was Associate Conductor with Long Beach Opera for the 2019 worldpremiere production of The Central Park Five by Anthony Davis, which was awarded the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in Music, in addition to being scheduled to conduct The Lighthouse (Peter Maxwell Davies) and Frida (Robert X. Rodriguez) in the COVIDtruncated 2020 season. He is a co-editor of the first modern performing edition of Joseph Bologne’s L’Amant Anonyme, which was premiered by LA Opera under James Conlon and has productions scheduled in the 2021-22 season at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Wolf Trap Opera, the Eastman School of Music, Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and Minnesota Opera.

In 2011, he co-founded Pacific Opera Project, for which he was music director until 2016. With POP, he led productions of Trouble in Tahiti, Così fan tutte, The Turn of the Screw, La Calisto (Los Angeles premiere), Ariadne auf Naxos and The Rake’s Progress, among many others. The LA Times praised his leadership of the Stravinsky as having kept orchestra, cast and chorus on “well-articulated rhythmic track.”

Karr’s repertoire spans nearly the entire history of opera, as well as significant masterpieces of the orchestral repertoire. He is pleased to begin the role of Assistant
Professor of Music and Music Director of the opera program at the University of Memphis in the 2022-23 academic year. Previously, he has taught at Chapman University, Michigan State University, the University of Southern California and UCLA. His schooling includes degrees in organ performance from Mercer University under Robert Parris and Westminster Choir College under Stefan Engels, as well as master’s and doctoral degrees from UCLA in
orchestral conducting, where his major teacher was Neal Stulberg.