Born in London in the early 1960s to an Irish mother and an English father who both loved dance music of any kind, it was no surprise that Karen took up the accordion at the age of 11. Having been voted the All Ireland Accordion champion on five occasions Karen finally turned professional in the late 1980s and has risen to become one of the leading lights on both the UK and International folk scenes.
She has appeared on over 70 albums and is known for being deft and dexterous as a musician; wacky and enchanting as a performer. She is sought after internationally as a composer, arranger, and collaborator; shining in the recent Secret North (2016/17) and Accordionesse (2018) projects – while being equally in demand as a teacher of music, accordion, arrangement, composition, and more recently, artistic skills.
As a tutor at universities, workshops, summer schools, and master classes in the UK, Ireland and Scandinavia, Karen also teaches privately and by Skype, opening her ideas to students worldwide.
Her methodology has proved to be inspirational and confidence-blooming as she seeks to bring out and develop the uniqueness of each student. Her knowledge and openness in relation to broadening repertoires and improvising styles, technique, and performance is second to none and she has become a legacy as a true rôle model for musicians and artists alike. She has also written and edited four music publications.
A complete professional, yet an approachable and likeable artist, her effervescent playing reflects her wide and varied personal musical tastes. She moves effortlessly from emotive and soulful melodies to vibrant, dynamic, and occasionally offbeat musical lines.
Her whole approach is informed by tradition yet crucially breaks convention and takes acoustic music into a new realm. Now based in Orkney, Karen is focusing on composing, drawing, teaching, arranging, and the odd collaboration. . .the odder the better if it brings the threads of her music and pencils closer together!
Instructor – Piano Accordion