Karen began playing clarsach through the traditional world, including studies with leading harper Alison Kinnaird, and has expanded her interests to include multi-cultural projects with international musicians and studies with Paraguayan harp master Rito Pederson. Specialising on all three Scottish harps – both gut- and wire-strung models and the baroque bray harp with its buzzing sitar effect – her performing experience includes concerts throughout the UK, Europe, America and Australia. Career highlights include the Edinburgh International Festival, Celtic Connections, the Australian National Folk Festival, Beethoven 2020 in Bonn, and the Scottish, Indian and Japanese spectacular, Yatra, which premiered at the Edinburgh Mela in 2008. A particular interest in pipe music has led to working with Gaelic music expert Allan MacDonald in his acclaimed pibroch concerts, and for the National Piping Centre’s 2013 Ceòl na Piòba concert. In 2018 she was honoured as an invited participant to Féile na Laoch, held every 7 years in memory of Seán Ó Riada in Cúil Aodha.
As a composer, Karen had pieces performed in 2018 and 2019 by the acclaimed Russian String Orchestra (Misha’s Gang) conducted by Misha Rachlevsky (with Karen as guest soloist), was Composer in Residence with Harps Northwest in 2016 and has premiered commissions for Celtic Connections’ New Voices series and the Distil showcase concerts. She has published her own series of clarsach books, including Key Techniques for Harp in 2012, and for 7 years was clarsach tutor at the National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music at Plockton, where she received a Distinction in the LTCL diploma, the first person to do so with an all-traditional repertoire. She has taught wire harp at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, where she is now a supervisor for the Research Department and is a guest lecturer for Glasgow University and the University of the Highlands & Islands. As well as solo recitals Karen performs with the legendary Irish flute player and singer Cathal McConnell in The Cathal McConnell Trio and is currently working with the long-established Scottish folk group, the Whistlebinkies.
Her solo CD, The Road to Kennacraig was produced by Robin Morton and released in July 2019.