Karen began her violin studies at the age of nine, studying with Betty Haag, then Morris Gomberg at Chicago's Roosevelt University on a full tuition scholarship. She was a recipient of several presigious Chicago area awards and scholarships. She then won positions with the Chicago Grant Park Summer Festival Orchestra and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.
In 1981, Karen and her husband Wes moved to Vancouver. She was a member of the Vancouver Opera Orchestra and the former CBC Chamber Orchestra prior to joining the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. In addition to the full time demands of orchestral playing, Karen kept active in chamber music, performing in the Ashley Duo, the Vetta String Quartet, Masterpiece Music and other ensembles. She has performed at the Orpheum, the UBC Recital Hall,the Banff Centre, West Point Grey United Church, and the Silk Purse in West Van. Many of her performances have been broadcast on CBC radio.
Since her retirement from the VSO, Karen is devoting her energies to solo and chamber music repertoire. She has been a regular performer at The Silk Purse and other venues in the Vancouver area. She also performs in retirement and care homes, often through ArtsWay, a charitable organization. She has collaborated with pianists Terry Dawson, Nikolai Maloff, Rachel Iwaasa and is currently partnering with Martha Brickman.