Karen Slack Named Lyric Unlimited Artist-in-Residence

By Keegan Morris |

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Kia Caldwell beams in a patterned orange gown

Karen Slack (Photo: Kia Caldwell)

Lyric Opera of Chicago has named Karen Slack its artist-in-residence for the Lyric Unlimited program for the 2024-2025 season. The celebrated Philadelphia-born soprano has performed with Lyric, as well as the Metropolitan Opera, the San Francisco Opera, Opera Philadelphia, as well as the Nashville Symphony, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Music Detroit, and more.

In addition to her respected artistry, Slack is renowned for her industry-leading endeavors to make classical music and opera more accessible and inclusive. She is a 2022 recipient of the Sphinx Medal of Excellence. She holds artistic leadership and advisory positions at Portland Opera, Astral Artists, and the American Composers Orchestra. Slack also teaches at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and is an artist-in-residence at Babson College.

Slack made her Lyric debut a decade ago as Serene in Porgy and Bess. She expresses that she is “honored… to deepen and broaden the company’s civic footprint by meeting audiences where they are and helping them feel connected to the art form.”

As Slack indicates, Lyric Unlimited is a series of programming focused on increasing outreach and access to opera. The residency will kick off on August 25 with Slack’s appearance at the company’s annual Sunday in the Park with Lyric at Millennium Park. Throughout the season, she will lead audience discussions, community events, master classes, and more civic-oriented activities. She will also direct programming spinning off her classical music talk show #KikiKonversations.

Karen Slack’s August performance will be her second at Millennium Park this summer. On Juneteenth, the soprano will perform in a Grant Park Music Festival program called Songs of Freedom. In August, she performs at Ravinia Festival alongside pianist Kevin Miller for African Queens, an exploration of music by Black composers.

Beyond the Sunday in the Park with Lyric program and other concerts during her residency, Slack is not scheduled to appear in Lyric mainstage titles this season.