Dr. Karen Becker
Chair of Music
Professor of Music
Dr. Becker teaches piano, music theory, and aural skills. In addition, she is also the artistic director for her concert series “Karen Becker and Friends” as well as the Champlain Valley Oratorio Society. A multi-faceted musician, Dr. Karen Becker has appeared in major concert halls across the country as soloist, chamber musician, accompanist and assistant conductor. Though classically trained, Dr. Becker enjoys performing and studying all musical genres and styles.
At the University of Wisconsin at Madison, she appeared on the Union Theater concert series with Joyce Castle and Kurt Ollmann, and was featured as piano soloist in Stravinsky’s Concerto for Piano and Winds with the University Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, a group which she helped to found. Dr. Becker also performed several solo piano recitals in the Madison area.
While living in Colorado, she was orchestral pianist for the Colorado Symphony, an assistant conductor for the Colorado Children’s Chorale, accompanist for the Colorado Symphony Chorus and pianist/coach for Central City Opera. She also founded the Larimer Chamber Ensemble, and was co-founder of Colorado Opera Troupe. Dr. Becker taught at the Aspen Music Festival for three summers and also served on the faculty at Regis University. Equally at home in popular music, Becker was a principal keyboard player for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, playing in the pit for Broadway touring companies of Phantom of the Opera, The Will Rogers Follies, Grease, Evita, A Chorus Line, West Side Story, and Les Miserables. She also served as music director at the Garner Galleria Theater for World Goes ’Round, at the Country Dinner Playhouse, and at the Adam’s Mark Hotel, arranging music and musicians for corporate functions, and hiring and training singing servers in the hotel’s signature restaurant Bravo!.
In New York City, Dr. Becker was adjunct faculty at Brooklyn College, worked as pianist for the American Opera Project at New York City Opera, appeared as piano soloist on the Summergarden series at the Museum of Modern Art, and as a keyboard player in the Phillip Glass Ensemble. She also was featured on the Music from Japan series at Columbia University’s Miller Theater, and is a champion of contemporary music, having played premieres by John Cage, and rarely heard music by Charles Koechlin, and Erik Satie. This exposure to the music of Koechlin led Becker to her research on surrealism in the music of Vladimir Dukelsky and the surrealist theater of Alberto Savinio, resulting in her dissertation Surrealism in Music: The Surrealist Suite and Les Chants de la mi-mort.
Dr. Becker holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music, The Juilliard School, and the University of Wisconsin. Her primary teachers include: Van Cliburn medalist Christopher Taylor, Robert Spillman, Margo Garrett, Samuel Sanders, Gwendolyn Koldofsky, and Ellsworth Snyder.