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Kara Poling


Kara Poling has loved the oboe as long as she can remember; her mother is an oboist, and she begged to play the instrument whose sound so captivated her imagination. Once she had grown big enough to handle the instrument Kara began studying with her mother, getting up early to practice before going to (elementary) school. Showing tremendous promise, she leapt to the top of Maryland’s premiere youth orchestras for which she was old enough to qualify (Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestras and Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras of Strathmore).

During middle school Kara began studying with Melissa Hooper, the Assistant Principal Oboe of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. She also took lessons and participated in master classes with other professional oboists, and won the concerto competition in one of her youth orchestras (after coming in second the previous year). In addition to her musical accomplishments Kara was selected as a Carson Scholar, and she served as a volunteer with the BSO’s urban outreach program OrchKids.
As a high schooler, Kara was selected as the youngest participant in the inaugural season of NYO2, the younger division of the National Youth Orchestra program sponsored by Carnegie Hall. After two years with NYO2 she was invited to play with the older National Youth Orchestra group and in addition to playing at Carnegie Hall performed in Taiwan, China and South Korea.

Since her sophomore year Kara has participated in the Pre-College program at The Juilliard School in New York, where she studies with Elaine Douvas, the Principal Oboe of the Metropolitan Opera. Kara was recently named a finalist in the Pre-College Open Concerto Competition. In addition she received the Honorable Mention in Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestra’s 2019 Concerto Competition. Kara has shared the stage with such eminent musicians as Emanuel Ax, Esperanza Spalding, Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Michael Tilson-Thomas. In addition to orchestral playing she performs frequently with her woodwind quintet, which was invited to play at the White House during the recent holiday season, and volunteers as an oboist and vocalist on her church worship team.

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