Choral Department


Marika Kuzma

Marika Kuzma

Director of Choral Activties UC Berkley

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)