A major prizewinner at the 2012 Emmerich Kálmán International Operetta Conducting Competition in Budapest, Carolyn Watson was also a Fellow of the American Academy of Conducting at the Aspen Music Festival where she studied with David Zinman. She has conducted orchestras throughout Europe including the Brandenburg Symphony, BBC Concert Orchestra, North Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Kodály Philharmonic, Savaria Symphony Orchestra, Budapest Operetta Theatre, Bulgarian State Opera Bourgas and in Russia, the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic.
Carolyn currently serves as Director of Orchestral Studies at The University of Kansas whilst continuing to enjoy an active freelance career throughout the US, Europe and Australia. Since moving to the US in 2013 she has led performances with the Austin Symphony, Catskill Symphony, Dallas Opera, Detroit Symphony Civic Orchestra, LaPorte County Symphony, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Kansas City Ballet, Kansas City Chamber Orchestra and World Youth Symphony Orchestra. From 2013-15 she held the prestigious position of Music Director of the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra, with whom she was awarded the 2015 American Prize for Orchestral Performance. Carolyn is also a member of the summer conducting faculty at Interlochen Arts Camp.
In 2021, she will conduct the world premiere of Gordon Getty’s opera, Goodbye Mr. Chips at Festival Napa Valley and debut at Amarillo Opera. In 2017 Carolyn was one of six conductors selected for the elite Dallas Opera Institute for Women Conductors. Carolyn was Musical Assistant at the Staatsoper Berlin for Infektion!, a festival of modern theatre celebrating the works of John Cage. She was resident at the Israeli National Opera and assisted Sir Charles Mackerras on his final two productions at The Royal Opera, Covent Garden and Glyndebourne. She has participated in master classes with Marin Alsop, Peter Eötvös, Yoel Levi, Martyn Brabbins and Alex Polishchuk and conducted musicians of the Berlin Philharmonic in Interaktion.
Carolyn is the recipient of a number of prestigious national and international awards for young conductors including the Brian Stacey Award for emerging Australian conductors, Sir Charles Mackerras Conducting Prize awarded via the Australian Music Foundation in London, Opera Foundation Australia’s Bayreuth Opera Award and Berlin New Music Opera Award and the Nelly Apt Conducting Scholarship. She is the beneficiary of support from the American Australian Association's Dame Joan Sutherland Fund and a Sheila Pryor Study Grant from the Australian Opera Auditions Committee.
Carolyn holds a PhD in Performance (Conducting) from the University of Sydney where she studied under Imre Palló. The subject of her doctoral thesis was Gesture as Communication: The Art of Carlos Kleiber.