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Marika Kuzma

“My main goal in directing singers is to lead them into choral/vocal repertoire very deeply. I want them to become acquainted with their own individual voice and artistry while exploring the voice and creativity of the composer.” MK

Marika Kuzma has been the director of choirs at UC Berkeley since 1990. 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 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 for frequent collaborations with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra under Nicholas McGegan and Jane Glover. The Chamber Chorus has joined the Mark Morris Dance Group in premiere productions of Handel L’Allegro, Rameau Platée and, most recently, Purcell 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 Bach Matthäus-Passion with the Youth Orchestra of the Americas.

Outside of the Berkeley choirs, Kuzma has guest directed such varied choirs as the Montreal Symphony Chorus (2007-08) 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 (2000-01), and Handel Society of Dartmouth College (Winter 1997).

As an instrumental conductor, Kuzma 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 UC Chamber Chorus, Earplay, and Composers Inc.

In the realm of Early Music, Kuzma was an assistant the late Thomas Binkley and Pro Arte Singers at Indiana University, 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 the Bach St. Matthew Passion, Monteverdi Vespers of 1610, etc.

Of Ukrainian descent, Marika 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, Chanticleer, and other Bay Area choirs.

Kuzma received her doctorate in choral directing from Indiana University, studying with Jan Harrington and Robert Porco. She studied orchestral conducting at the Aspen Summer Institute under Paul Vermel and at other summer programs with Volodymyr Kolesnyk and Gustav Meier. Ms. Kuzma began her music studies in voice and violin in Hartford, Connecticut at the Hartt School of Music, continuing at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Salzburg Mozarteum; and Vienna Hochschule für Musik. 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)




Translation of Stravinsky, Svadebka [Les Noces] SF Symphony Playbill. June 1994
“Bortniansky à la Bortniansky: An Examination of the Sources of Dmitry Bortniansky’s Choral Concertos,” Journal of Musicology 14 (Summer 1996): 183-212.

New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Signed articles on Dmitry Bortniansky, Maxym Berezovsky.

“Chy znaemo pravdyvoho Bortnianskoho” [Do we know the genuine Bortniansky], Naukoviy visnyk, No. 6, 1999.

“Dmitry Bortniansky at 250: His Legacy as a Choral Symphonist,” Choral Journal 42:1 (August 2001).

The Powers of Heaven (CD liner notes), Paul Hillier, Harmonia Mundi USA, 2003
In Progress: Critical Edition of the Thirty-Five Choral Concertos of Dmitry Bortniansky, Musica Russica.


Elinor Armer and Ursula LeGuin, “Eating with the Hoi,” Music in Uttermost Parts
Chamber Chorus of the University of California. Koch International, 1995.

Icons of Slavic Music
Chamber Chorus of the University of California
Ameridisc, 1996 (currently out of print).

Forces of Nature (Film Soundtrack)
Chamber Chorus of the University of California
Dreamworks, 1999.

Richard L. Crocker, An Introduction to Gregorian Chant, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000. Examples of chant (solo vocals) for Compact Disc.

Gary Remal Malkin and Michael Stillwater, Graceful Passages
Chamber Chorus of the University of California collaboration with Bay Area
ensembles and leaders in the international religious community
Companion Arts, 2000.

Dufay, Missa Ave regina celorum
Chamber Chorus of the University of California
Sanglier (division of Wildboar Records), 2003.

Of Songs and Seasons: music for a cappella chorus
Brahms, Sieben Lieder für gemischten Chor, op. 62 and Dychko, Pory Roku
Chamber Chorus of the University of California, 2004.*

Thow, John, Cantico, Chumash Songs, Eros and Dust
Chamber Chorus of the University of California, Palatino Records, 2004.*

Liderman, Jorge, Song of Songs
Chamber Chorus of the University of California with the San Francisco

Contemporary Music Players (chorus preparation)
Bridge Records, 2005.*



1981 B. Mus. (with highest honors), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
1986 M.A., Stanford University
1992 D.M., Indiana University School of Music
Aspen Music School, Aspen CO Summers 1979, 1988, 1989
Salzburg Mozarteum, Salzburg Austria, Summer 1981
Die Hochschule für Musik, Vienna Austria, 1981-82
International Conducting Institute, Kiev Ukraine, 1997

Academic Positions

1990 University of California, Berkeley. Associate Professor of Music
1994 Music Director University Chamber Chorus (30-voice)
1990 Music Director University Chorus (100-voice)
1992 Interim Director University Symphony, Spring
Chorus preparation for University Symphony
Courses taught in conducting and in music history and literature
2000-01 University of Virginia, Visiting Professor, Director of University Singers
2001 Tchaikovsky Conservatory of Music, Moscow, Russia. Invited lectures on Slavic choral music
1997 Tchaikovsky Conservatory of Music, Kiev, Ukraine. Guest Lecturer. Invited lectures on Slavic Choral music and American spirituals
1997 Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH. Visiting Professor
Music Director Handel Society of Dartmouth College.
Other Academic Engagements
2006, 1996
Indiana University, Bloomington, IN.
Invited Lectures on Slavic Choral Music.
2003 Oklahoma City University, Guest Conductor
2002 Tchaikovsky Conservatory of Music, Moscow, Russia.
Invited lectures on Slavic choral music
1998 Holy Names College, Oakland, CA. Guest Professor in Conducting
1995 Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, CA. Courses in Conducting and Music Analysis
1994 Amherst Early Music Festival, Collegium Director
Courses taught in conducting and in music history and literature

Professional Activities

Guest Conducting
Montreal Symphony Chorus, Guest Director 2007-08
Oakland Symphony Chorus
Guest director, Rachmaninoff Vsenoschnoye bdeniye, Fall 2004
Guest conductor at “Summer Sings” Summers 2004, 1999, 1996, 1994
Clinician for Rachmaninoff’s Kolokola, January 2000
Oratorio Singers of Charlotte, Invited rehearsal, March 2004
New Haven Chorale, Invited rehearsal, November 2002
Cleveland Symphony Orchestra
Finalist, Choral Director’s Position, Fall 1997
National Symphony of Ukraine
Guest conductor in festival concert, Summer 1997
Berkeley Symphony (Kent Nagano, Music Director)
Children’s Concerts, Spring 1994
Subscription Series, June 1992
Bay Area Women’s Philharmonic. Guest conductor, September 1996
Chamber Orchestra of Hanover New Hampshire; Handel Society of Dartmouth
Guest director, April 1997
Composers Inc. (San Francisco contemporary music ensemble)
Guest conductor, Fall 1999, November 1995
Earplay (San Francisco contemporary music ensemble), February 1994
Bloomington Baroque (Stanley Ritchie, director)
Berkeley Early Music Festival, June 1992
Sacred and Profane Chamber Chorus, Berkeley, California.
Director, 1990-91
Terre Haute (Indiana) Choral Society, Guest Director, Fall 1989
Terre Haute Chamber Chorale, Guest Director, Fall 1988
Chorus Preparation for Professional Ensembles
Youth Orchestra of the Americas, Kent Nagano
Concerts in Sao Paolo Brazil, August 2006
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Nicholas McGegan, Music Director
Beethoven Symphony No. 9 2006
Handel L’Allegro 2003, 2000, 1995
Handel Saul, 1994
Purcell King Arthur, 1994
Mark Morris Dance Group
Purcell King Arthur, 2006
Handel L’Allegro, 2003, 2000, 1995
Rameau Platée, 2001, 1998
Purcell Dido & Aeneus, 1995
Berkeley Symphony, Kent Nagano, Music Director
Brahms Alto Rhapsody and Vaughan Williams Flos campi, 1995
Midsummer Mozart Festival, George Cleve, Music Director
Beethoven Symphony No. 9, 1995
Oakland East Bay Symphony, Michael Morgan, Music Director
Gershwin Porgy & Bess, 1994;
Let Us Break Bread Together Concerts 1995,1993
San Francisco Symphony and Symphony Chorus
Russian diction coach to Michael Tilson Thomas, Vance George, chorus, soloists.
Rimsky-Korsakov Mlada, 2002; Stravinsky Svadebka 2001, 1999, 1994
Performances at Davies Symphony Hall 1994-2002, Carnegie Hall 2001
Chanticleer, Joseph Jennings, Music Director. Russian Diction coach, 2002, 2004.
Assistant Conductor to
Kent Nagano, Berkeley Symphony, 1992-94
Thomas Binkley, Pro Arte Singers, Indiana University, 1989-90
Leonard Slatkin and Catherine Comet, Aspen Music Festival, 1989
Jan Harrington, Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, Indiana University, 1988-89
Robert Porco, University Opera Theater, Indiana University, 1988

Honors & Awards

1977-81       John Motley Morehead Scholar
1979           Phi Beta Kappa
1989           Pi Kappa Lambda
1991           Finalist for Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Award
1993           Julius Herford Prize, American Choral Directors Association
2001           Virginia Chan Lew Associate Professor of Music
2003           Song of Songs CD nominated for Grammy Award

Concert Reviews

New York Times October 2006, Purcell King Arthur, Mark Morris Dance Group.
“…superior musical performance by the London cast and conductor, Jane Glover, paired with Philharmonia Baroque and the first-rate UC Berkeley Chamber Chorus.”
San Francisco Chronicle October 2006, Purcell King Arthur, Mark Morris Dance Group
“The choral singing was flawless.”
San Francisco Classical Voice, March 2006, Bach Matthaus-Passion
“The power of this group was nowhere more apparent than here [the final chorus, ‘Wir setzen uns mit Tränen nieder’]. In fact, I will give the crown in this performance to director Marika Kuzma, for the choruses were divine. This is an extremely difficult piece for the chorus, yet every nuance, every character shift was absolutely there.”
San Francisco Chronicle March 2002, Liderman Song of Songs, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players.
“The most stirring contribution was the beautifully nuanced singing of Marika Kuzma’s UC Berkeley Chamber Chorus.”
New York Times June 1998, Rameau Platée, Mark Morris Dance Group
“The Berkeley Chamber Chorus, singing from the pit… was excellent.”
San Francisco Classical Voice October 1998, Ernst Bacon Ecclesiastes, UC Chorus and Symphony
“Conductor Marika Kuzma was completely in control of her forces and very sensitive to the demands of the music.”
Opera News December 1995, Handel Saul, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra
“The powerful concentration of Marika Kuzma’s University of California Chamber Chorus provided an exciting backdrop for the soloists.”
San Francisco Examiner September 1995 Handel Saul, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra.
“All might have taken a diction lesson from Kuzma’s lusty chorister who left no syllable unarticulated and no musical marvel unexplored.”
San Francisco Chronicle November 1995, Rzewski Lost Melody, Composers Inc.
“The piece got a probing rendition… under the clear leadership of conductor Marika Kuzma.”
Washington Post May 1995 “Icons of Slavic Music” UC Chamber Chorus
“The singing was intelligent, responsive, and well balanced.”
San Jose Mercury News March 1995 Purcell, King Arthur
“The overall spirit and vocal inflection were delicious. Much of the credit goes to the chorus that the young director Marika Kuzma has turned into arguably the area’s pre-eminent collegiate ensemble.”