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