Karen Johnson came to the DPO in 1999, after nine years as the Associate Principal Viola of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. She has performed as a substitute player with both the Houston Symphony and the Atlantic Symphony. With the DPO Karen occupies the Grace Counts Finch Chair.
Karen received her Bachelor’s Degree from Indiana University and her Master’s Degree from Rice University with Mimi Zweig, Heidi Castleman and Yitzhak Shotten, her teachers.
Music has allowed Karen the opportunity to travel internationally and she has spent several summers in Italy as a member of the Spoleto Festival Orchestra and in Austria as a member of the American Institute of Musical Studies Orchestra.
She enjoys teaching and while in Tennessee received an Outstanding Teacher Award from the Tennessee Governor’s School. Currently she teaches viola and violin and is also one of the DPO’s musicians active in the Philharmonic SPARK program.
Although armed with college degrees from universities in Indiana and Texas, Karen is an Ohio native and Buckeye football fan extraordinaire
In fact, a little known secret suggests that while in music school, she memorized opus numbers by pairing them with OSU football players’ jersey numbers. For example, the Schumann Piano Concerto, Opus 54 is known by Karen as “Randy Gradishar, linebacker.” Now that is real passion for OSU football. Go BUCKS!!!