Karen Nelson, violin

KAREN NELSON, a graduate of Luther College, has been a freelance musician in the Chicago area since 1974. Her main teachers were Samuel Magad and Joseph Golan, both of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Since 1987, Ms. Nelson has served as Principal Second Violin of the Chicago Sinfonietta.

She has performed on recordings produced by the Chicago Sinfonietta, the Chicago Philharmonic, Chicago String Ensemble, Peninsula Music Festival Orchestra and other groups. Touring has taken her to Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Japan and the Canary Islands. Ms. Nelson spent twenty years as a founding member of the Chicago String Ensemble (doubling as Personnel Manager for seventeen of those years) and three seasons with the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra. She has appeared with the Lyric Opera Orchestra of Chicago, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony, Chicago Philharmonic, Ravinia Festival Orchestra, Chicago Opera Theater, Fulcrum Point, Chamber Opera Chicago (personnel manager for 5 years), Elgin Symphony Orchestra, Northwest Indiana Symphony, Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra, New Philharmonic, Rockford Symphony Orchestra, Orbert Davis’s Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, Chicago Pops Orchestra, and dance companies such as the Joffrey Ballet (9 seasons as Principal Second Violin), American Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Ballet, Royal Ballet of London, Kirov and Bolshoi Ballets, and the annual Chicago Tribune Charities production of the Nutcracker.

Ms. Nelson was Acting Concertmaster of the Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra in 2004-5 and 2007 and has been Assistant Concertmaster of the Park Ridge Civic Orchestra since 2001 (personnel manager since 2012). She has been a member of the Peninsula Music Festival (Door County, WI) since 1983 and has appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio and Chicago’s WFMT station in live and prerecorded broadcasts. Her work includes playing backup for numerous vocal artists of our day (Ray Charles, Barry Manilow, Luciano Pavorotti, and Tony Bennett, to name a few) and also commercial recording for clients such as McDonalds, Nintendo, Quaker Oats, and Curtis Mayfield.

For 17 years, she was string contractor for both the Bradley Young Orchestra and the Don Cagen Orchestra. In addition to her experience as an orchestral musician, Ms. Nelson performs recitals with commentary for retirement centers, churches, libraries, and concert series and provides strolling violinists, chamber music and jazz ensembles for weddings, parties and corporate events. She has two sons and is married to Bruce, a percussionist/vibraphonist.

August Symphony Series performance location

Door Community Auditorium - Fish Creek 

The Peninsula Music Festival - 10347 Highway 42

Unit B Green Gables Shops 

P.O. Box 340, Ephraim, Wisconsin  54211

email: musicfestival@musicfestival.com

Phone: (920) 854-4060