meet the president

Karen Schulz-Harmon, a native of St. Louis, is an avid chamber musician and teacher. She performs with the Chicago Philharmonic, Chicago Bach Ensemble, Chicago Opera Theater and the Chicago Trio. She loves recording and collaborating with different composers and various instrumentalists. Karen is a member of the faculty at the Chicago Academy for the Arts (CAA) where she teaches private cello and music theory. She also coaches chamber music at CAA and for the Chicago Youth Symphony.

After moving to Chicago Karen attended Northern Illinois University at the invitation of cellist Marc Johnson on full scholarship. She graduated in 2005 with a Masters of Music degree in Cello Performance. During her time at NIU she enjoyed working with the members of the Vermeer Quartet and also purchased her current cello made in 1840 by Jacob Fendt and bow by André Vigneron, ca. 1900.

CCS President,  2011 -

Over the past few years Karen spent two months in Europe, which included observing the teaching (approximately 40 hours) 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. Karen adores Vienna and cherishes the friendships she developed there.

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 20 years. She continues to teach private lessons from her studio located in the Fine Arts Building, as well as from her home studio in Chicago's historic Kenwood neighborhood. A pedagogue emphasizing both tradition and innovation, Karen works with students of all ages. 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.

She has been heavily involved with the Chicago Cello Society for the past eleven years, serving as vice president for eight years and president since the fall of 2011, succeeding Tanya Carey. Some of her main achievements with the society have been reviving the Cello Scroll newsletter, creative programming and Website design.

When she is not teaching or performing Karen enjoys spending time with her husband, double bassist Andrew Harmon, and their two birds, Henry and Miles, as well as cooking (she recently received professional plant-based culinary certification), honing her food photography, hiking, biking, practicing yoga and language studies. She continues her exploration of the Feldenkrais technique in private sessions with practicioner, Steve Duke.

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


meet the founder

CCS Founder & President
1979 - 1998
In his fourth decade with the Chicago Symphony, David Sanders is the last remaining member of the cello section of the CSO's legendary principal cellist Frank Miller. Appointed to the Chicago Symphony in 1974 by Sir Georg Solti at the age of 24, David was the founder and president for 19 years of the Chicago Cello Society, as well as the editor of its newsletter, The Cello Scroll. He has organized and performed in concerts sponsored by the Society which included the complete cello sonatas of Beethoven, the complete etudes of David Popper and numerous cello ensemble concerts. In the spring of 2008, he helped organize and performed in a concert the Cello Society presented of 20 solo works of David Popper, a concert which included five cellists from the CSO. He has also given master classes and seminars on orchestral playing. In the fall of 2008, he organized and participated in a performance by five member of the CSO's cello section of the complete Beethoven cello sonatas.

Sanders began playing cello at the age of 14 in high school in Miami, Florida, and made his solo debut eighteen months later with the Miami Symphonic Society Orchestra. He was a scholarship student at the University of Miami and Florida State University summer orchestra festivals, the Eastern Music Festival and the London Symphony Institute. His teachers include Bernice Schwartz, Dudley Powers, Frank Miller, Channing Robbins and Raya Garbousova, and he has participated in master classes with János Starker, Zara Nelsova and Lynn Harrell.

Sanders has held principal cello positions with the Northwestern University concert and chamber orchestras, the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Lake Forest Symphony and Florida Symphony. He also has played with the Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra, Grant Park Symphony and Milwaukee Symphony, and he has appeared as soloist with orchestras throughout the Midwest. As a chamber musician, he played with the Montagnana Trio for 25 years and was the cellist of the Burnham String Quartet and the Colin-Mezin String Quartet. He has also appeared with the Chicago Symphony String Quartet.

David founded the Chicago Cello Society in 1979 on the urging of the great cellist and teacher, Janos Starker.  His impressive term as president spanned 19 consecutive years!  As president emeritus, he continues to remain actively involved in the goings-on of the Society.

David has two cats, Josh and Toby, two siblings that he adopted from a rescue organization. He owns one of the largest collections of rare books and autographs relating to string instruments in the world. Montagnana Books, his international company with customers as close as Chicago and as far away as Europe, Australia, Japan and Thailand, deals in books and autographs pertaining to the string player.


2013 events


Saturday, March 9th
11:30am to 3:00pm
Curtiss Hall
410 S. Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL

Hagit and Uri Vardi join forces in a collaborative event you won't want to miss. The first hour and a half will include an interactive introduction to the Feldenkais Method followed by an Awareness Through Movement (ATM) lesson with feldenkrais practitioner, Hagit Vardi.  Those planning to participate in the ATM should plan to wear comfortable clothing and bring a yoga type mat or towel.  The remaining 2 hours will feature Uri Vardi, cellist and feldenkrais practicioner, in a masterclass where he will focus on body awareness as related to intent and execution, production of sound and communication of musical ideas.

This event is cosponsored by the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras.

Admission:  FREE  for current CCS Members
                      Adults - $25
                      Students - $15
                      RSVP - none, payment collected via cash or check at the door


Friday, March 29th
12:30pm to 1:00pm
111 North State Street
Chicago, IL

A perennial favorite every year, Macy's Flower Show heralds the beginning of Spring with their awe-inspiring spectacles of nature and breathtaking flower extravaganza. During this time, the store blossoms with musical and cultural special events, floral seminars, complimentary guided tours, specialty and children's gardens, fabulous contests and a lively selection of flowering fashion shows which complement the stunning vignettes of vibrant colors, lush greens and millions of flowers and trees that will be in full bloom. This concert will feature a cello quartet performing popular cello choir arrangements.

Admission:  FREE  Event



This event is still in the works.  We hope to have more information soon...


Sunday, June 2nd
Nichols Hall
1490 Chicago Avenue
Evanston, IL

Our season will conclude with a concert featuring works for cello beginning with a solo piece, then a duet, then a trio until we reach a massive cello choir! 

Admission:  FREE  for current CCS Members
                      Adults - $20
                      Students - $10
                      RSVP - none, payment collected via cash or check at the door

If you would like to be involved with or have suggestions for future events please email CCS President, Karen Schulz-Harmon, at cellotrope@yahoo.com.