Born: December 13, 1959 Primary Instrument: Accordion
Karen studied music at Bath University, Welsh College of Music and Drama and Guildhall School of Music. She became the British Virtuoso Champion in1981/2 and competed in the Coupe Mondiale (World Championship) in Hamburg and Folkstone. She is now a freelance musician and her wide-ranging skills (she plays accordion, saxophone, clarinet and flute) keeps her in demand for a broad range of projects encompassing classical, contemporary and jazz.
Karen has created a niche for herself in the jazz scene in the UK. She is a regular member of Mike Westbrook's groups, most recently touring with his Platterback project. With Tim Garland she has worked as part of Lammas and in his Made by Walking project playing alongside Geoff Keeser, Joe Locke and Avishai Cohen. Other credits include, Phil Robson Octet, Steve Arguelles, Martha Lewis - Café Aman, Roy Nathanson's Fire at Keaton's Bar and Grill.
As a saxophone player she was a member of the all girl saxophone quartet 'The Fairer Sax' who appeared on television and radio and at festivals all over the world. She is now a member and co-runs Saxtet with Andy Tweed her husband. This saxophone quintet uniquely has five composer/performers. Karen's material is very much at the heart of the group.
Other performing credits include recording with Ute Lemper, performing with Royal Shakespeare Company, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, BBC Philharmonic, the Matrix Ensemble with Willard White, Royal Opera House and many West End productions.
As a composer Karen specializes in writing music for the saxophone, from solos to large ensembles, many of which are published by Boosey & Hawkes, June Emerson and Saxtet Publications Her pieces now appear in virtually every music exam syllabus in the UK. Her composition for solo accordion In the Ballroom with the Rope took first prize at the London Accordion Festival, Composition Competition, 2001.
Karen’s debut CD “finally a beginning”was released 2001. Go to the relevant page to find out more. Following the success of this she put together a quartet with Stan Sulzmann, Fred T Baker and Mike Outram for the recording of “Accordion Crimes” in 2004. The Arts Council of England funded the tour of “Accordion Crimes” in Nov/Dev 2005.
Karen is the featured artist on Kate Westbrook’s latest CD “The Nijinska Chamber” A celebration of the life of the choreographer and dancer Bronislava Nijinska, lyrics by Kate Westbrook, music by Mike Westbrook. Album produced by Jon Hiseman for release on Voiceprint 2006.