Karen is an avid chamber musician, orchestral player and teacher. She enjoys recording and collaborating with various instrumentalists as well as playing all types of music. Karen performs with the Portland Cello Project, Portland Opera, Portland Columbia Symphony, Eugene Ballet and Eugene Symphony. She coaches cello sectionals and gives techniques classes for several schools both in Portland and Vancouver. Karen has served as co-director of the Vancouver Youth Chamber Orchestras program and is a member of the faculty for the Chamber Music Camp of Portland.
Karen attended Northern Illinois University at the invitation of cellist Marc Johnson and was privileged to work with all the members of the Vermeer String Quartet. She graduated in 2005 with a Masters of Music degree in Cello Performance. Karen performs with an 1840 cello by Jacob Fendt and a ca. 1900 bow by André Vigneron.
While in Chicago, Karen performed with the Chicago Philharmonic, Chicago Bach Ensemble, Chicago Opera Theater and the Chicago Trio. Karen was a member of the faculty at the Chicago Academy for the Arts (CAA) for eight years where she taught private cello, music theory, piano lab, tutored instrumentalists and coached chamber music. She also coached chamber music for over ten years for the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras Program.
Over a period spanning several years Karen spent two months in Europe, which included observing the teaching of Robert Nagy, a principal cellist of the Vienna Philharmonic. During this time she also had the opportunity to interact with the private teachers and chamber music coaches at the Südsteirische Musiktage Festival in Austria founded by Wolfgang Klos, violist in the Vienna String Trio.
In the summer of 2012 Karen was selected to attend the National Summer Cello Institute. While there she had the privilege to work with cellists Richard Aaron, Timothy Eddy, Ralph Kirshbaum and Uri Vardi. She also participated in an enlightening Feldenkrais workshop with Hagit Vardi.
Karen has been teaching both cello and piano for over 25 years. A pedagogue emphasizing both tradition and innovation, Karen works with students of all ages and levels. She considers it a great honor to pass her knowledge of craft on to her students and hopes she is inspiring lifelong music lovers in each one.
When she is not teaching or performing Karen enjoys spending time with her husband, double bassist Andrew Harmon, and their beautiful Haitian daughter, Estere. She also loves cooking - Karen received professional plant-based culinary certification in 2014 - honing her food photography skills, hiking, biking, practicing yoga along with taking taoist tai chi and awareness through body movement classes. Karen is also a Health Coach, receiving her certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in September of 2015.
Below is one of Karen's favorite quotes by the cellist who breathed life into our beloved Bach Suites:
"Real understanding does not come from what we learn in books; it comes from what we learn from love of nature, of music, of man. For only what is learned in that way is truly understood."
~ Pablo Casals