Meet Karen Walwyn
Ms. Karen Walwyn, “warmly expressive Karen Walwyn”, stated by critic Joshua Barone of the New York Times, remarked on a performance with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, and Maestro Giancarlo Guerrero, of the Concerto in One Movement by Florence Price, as “an infectious pleasure”.
Walwyn, a Concert Pianist, Composer, Recording Artist and a Florence Price scholar, is the first female African American pianist/ composer to receive the International Steinway Artist Award.
A native of New York, Concert Pianist Karen Walwyn made her New York solo piano debut at Merkin Hall as a follow-up to her two-album series for Albany Records entitled Dark Fires, offering premiere recordings of works by American composers of African descent. Bill Faucett from The American Record Guide said “ Walwyn’s pianism is superb”, and Peter Burwasser from Fanfare Magazine said “Walwyn gets through this technically demanding program with aplomb. Her rhythmic nimbleness is especially notable.”
As a Champion of Florence Price, Walwyn began her journey with Florence Price when she was invited to perform and record the world premiere of the Concerto in One Movement by Florence Price with the New Black Music Repertory Ensemble by the Center of Black Music Research, 2011.
Walwyn’s April 9, 2022 release of her solo piano works by Florence Price received five stars from Colin Clark, (Fanfare), who wrote: “Walwyn seems perfectly attuned to Price’s mode of utterance ..” Florence Price solo piano music includes a number of world premieres. Another Five Star review: “This is a marvelous release and one that I’ll keep on my active listening stack for some time to come.” said James Harrington of Fanfare Magazine.
Equally exciting, the world premiere of Price’s authentic, (1934), version of the Concerto in One Movement performed with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra was just released. In constant demand, Walwyn was a guest artist on PBS: Now Hear This with Scott Yoo: “Florence Price and the American Migration”, earlier this year. Walwyn, who also appeared in the Emmy nominated The Caged Bird by James Greeson was featured on NPR with John Banther in addition to numerous interviews and lectures on the life and music by Florence Price. Of a recent recital at Florida International University, critic Laurence Budman wrote Walwyn provides superb advocacy for Florence Price’s music.
As a Composer, she received the Global Award: Gold Medal -Award of Excellence for her recording of her composition entitled Reflections on 9/11 . Robert Schulslaper of Fanfare Magazine wrote: “Imaginatively conceived and executed, it both disturbingly transposes the catastrophe into appropriately cataclysmic sound and artistically suggests the aftermath’s lingering sense of numbing devastation.” A Mellon Faculty Fellow, Walwyn continuously receives numerous commissions for solo, chamber and orchestral works.
Dr. Walwyn, on faculty at Howard University, is in constant concert demand nationally and internationally for both her repertoire from Frédéric Chopin to Florence Price, as well as for performances of her own works. She was a student of Dr. James R. Floyd, Dr. Arthur Greene, Ms. Rosalie Gregory, and Ms. Susan Starr.
Dark Fires’ first volume includes composers Dolores White, Lettie Beckon Alston, Tania León, Hale Smith, Roger Dickerson, Jeffrey Mumford, and Adolphus Hailstork.
Dark Fires’ second album includes composers Ellis Marsalis, David Baker, Alvin Singleton, Adolphus Hailstork and Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson.
As a Composer, she received the Global Award: Gold Medal -Award of Excellence for her recording of her composition entitled Reflections on 9/11. Robert Schulslaper of Fanfare Magazine wrote: “Imaginatively conceived and executed, it both disturbingly transposes the catastrophe into appropriately cataclysmic sound and artistically suggests the aftermath’s lingering sense of numbing devastation.” The demand for concerts of this seven-movement ‘tour de force’ continuously carries her across the nation for command performances, which was first premiered in full at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
As a Mellon Faculty Fellow at the John Hope Franklin Institute, Duke University, Walwyn composed her debut choral work entitled Of Dance & Struggle: A Musical Tribute on the Life of Nelson Mandela, (Choir/Solo Piano/African Percussion) commissioned and performed by the Elon University Chorale under the direction of Dr. Gerald Knight.
Scored for a 100+choir, African Drums, Dancers, it is a multi-movement multimedia work, the premiere performance included choreographer Jason Aryeh.
Of Dance and Struggle was heralded by the South African Embassy in Washington, D.C. as “a monumental work for our beloved president, Nelson Mandela.”
As a Florence Price Scholar, Dr. Walwyn remains active in the research and work towards recordings of new music by Florence Price. She was invited by deputy director Morris Phibbs of the Center of Black Music Research of Chicago to perform and record the premiere recording of the Florence Price Concerto for Piano with the New Black Music Repertory Ensemble conducted by Leslie B Dunner of Chicago on Albany Records. “Walwyn provides a magnificent account of the concerto displaying her considerable technical skills”, reviewed by Bob McQuiston at NPR. Shortly after this release, she was invited as a guest artist on the documentary by Dr. James Greeson for his Emmy nominated film entitled The Caged Bird: The Life and Music of Florence B. Price which features Walwyn as one of the pioneering soloists of the music of Florence Price.
On her trip to Arkansas to visit the former homes of Ms. Price in Little Rock, and to review the precious letters at Special Collections at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Dr. Walwyn had the opportunity to discover important history not yet told about which she shares in her many interviews and workshops on Florence Price. Learn more about Florence B. Price on Dr. Walwyn’s florenceprice.org here.
Ms. Price. Shorter College was one of the colleges that Ms. Price taught at before raising her family in Little Rock with Mr. Price.
Dr. Walwyn, Area Coordinator of Keyboard Studies at Howard University, is in constant concert demand nationally and internationally for both her repertoire from Frédéric Chopin to Florence Price, as well as for performances of her own works for solo piano, choir and instrumental ensemble. And as a composer, she remains exceedingly busy with the completion of and performance of her commissions.
Pre-covid, some recent concerts include appearances in Johannesburg, South Africa; Barcelona, Spain; Tenerife, Canary Islands; Salzburg, Austria; London, England; and Nice, France. Nationally, Walwyn has performed throughout the contiguous United States, Hawaii, West Indies and the Virgin Islands.
Dr. Karen’s hobby is creating music therapy for pets! Her favorite pup, Miles, who was once a beautiful German Shepherd, taught her a lot about music affected him and after much research, she created her on line of albums for pets: Allegro Paws.
Making her compositional debut recently at the Kennedy Center, Ms.Walwyn received a tremendous standing ovation for her work for solo piano entitled “Reflections on 9/11”. “Imaginatively conceived and executed, it both disturbingly transposes the catastrophe into appropriately cataclysmic sound and artistically suggests the aftermath’s lingering sense of numbing devastation.” reviewed by Robert Schulslaper of Fanfare Magazine. The demand for concerts of this seven-movement ‘tour de force’ work continuously takes her across the nation for command performances.