Karen Elaine is the First Place Grand Prize winner of the 1988 Bruno Giuranna International Viola Competition. Aw winner of numerous solo competitions in her native California, she is noted by the Los Angeles Times as "...the soloist to bring the viola out of obscurity." Ms. Elaine has recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra, the City of London Sinfonia (for which she received nomination for a 1992 Grammy Music Award), the Orquesta Sinfonica da Paraiba, and the Moraska Philharmonie. A featured artist on recital and orchestra series worldwide, Ms. Elaine has given premier performances of new works and exuberant interpretations of the standard repertoire.
Ms. Elaine has commissioned and premiered numerous works for solo viola by such distinguished composers as David Baker, Ed Bland, Gordon Kerry, Patrice Rushen, Bruce Taub, David Ward-Steinman, and Haim Shtrum. As an arranger and soloist, Ms. Elaine's works for solo viola with string orchestra have been performed by the Rogue Valley Symphony, the Afro-American Chamber Music Society, the Palisades Symphony, and the Southeast Los Angeles Symphony.
Outside of the music world, Karen Elaine's presence is felt in the world's marine lands as a recreational scuba diver and instructor. An active photographer and teacher of scuba diving in Southern California, Ms. Elaine has certified over one-hundred scuba students and is a featured guest speaker for many of the Southern California dive clubs. Her former students are active parts of the commercial scuba diving community from dive resorts in Papua New Guinea, the Hawaiian island of Kawaii, to much of California and Florida. One of Ms. Elaine's most exciting dive excursions was in 2004 on the Russian research vessel Grigoriy Mikheev, spending a month aboard as dive buddy to Amos Nachom (the celebrated photographer from National Geographic).
Karen Elaine has recorded on the Delos, Harmonia Mundi, Laurel, R-Kal, Fleur de Son, and Tzadik record labels. Featured on the daily Karl Haas classical radio program 'Adventures in Good Music' is her grammy-nominated recording of the 'Lyric Fantasies' by Norman Dello Joio, one of her many collaborative works with conductor David Amos. Currently Ms. Elaine is producing a new recording for solo viola and trumpet which will include works by David Baker, Ron Carter, Billy Childs, Patrice Rushen, and Duke Ellington. For those who enjoy surfing the web, you can purchase these CD's from her manager at www.mikevaccaro.com/artistmanagement, or listen to excerpts of these recordings on www.violaconcerts.com.