Soprano Karen Holvik
Soprano Karen Holvik brings a wealth of experience in many styles of music to her performances. She began her singing life in the world of popular music and jazz, but set her sights on a career in classical music during her graduate studies. After touring with San Francisco Opera’s Western Opera Theater, Holvik settled in New York, where she pursued an eclectic musical path, building a large repertoire of concert music, oratorio, and operatic roles.
Highlights of her work in regional opera include appearances with Houston Grand Opera’s Spring Opera Festival, Skylight Opera, Opera Festival of New Jersey, Opera Illinois, Anchorage Opera, and Texas Opera Theater, singing roles including Constanze, Lucia, Juliette, Adina, Micaela, Marzelline, and Baby Doe. She has worked with prominent directors, including Christopher Alden, Francesca Zambello, Edward Berkeley, Ken Cazan, and the late Richard Pearlman.
Holvik has toured extensively in the United States, and has appeared in Canada and Western Europe singing both popular and classical repertoire. She has been successful in many competitions, including the American Opera Auditions, Liederkranz Foundation, Oratorio Society of New York, Carnegie Hall International American Music Competition, and Joy in Singing, which sponsored her debut recital at Alice Tully Hall. The Richard Tucker Gala Concert marked her Avery Fisher Hall debut, an event that was recorded by RCA Victor Red Seal and shown nationally on PBS, and she made her Carnegie Hall debut singing Handel’s Messiah with the Masterwork Chorus and Orchestra. Other New York venues in which she has appeared in concert, opera, and oratorio include Merkin Hall, the 92nd Street Y, the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College, Miller Theater and St. Paul’s Chapel at Columbia University, the Knitting Factory, and Dance Theater Works.
Holvik spent five summers as an Opera Fellow at the Aspen Music Festival, where she was a student of Jan DeGaetani and Arleen Augér and sang leading roles in numerous opera productions. She has since returned as a guest artist to sing concerts featuring works by Bach and Mozart, as well as an evening of Gershwin songs to celebrate the opening of the Harris Recital Hall, with her Eastman classmate, baritone William Sharp, and pianist Steven Blier.
While a member of the voice faculty at Eastman, Holvik sang with the jazz pianist Tony Caramia, performing the music of Billie Holliday, Harold Arlen, and Alec Wilder. She also appeared with the Ying Quartet singing the music of Lili Boulanger, and made several appearances with the “Women in Music Festival,” in residence at Eastman. Holvik has also long been a champion of contemporary American song and operatic repertoire, and has premiered works by Ricky Ian Gordon, Aaron Kernis, John Musto, James Sellars, Stewart Wallace, Tom Cipullo, and Richard Wilson. She was featured in the New York premiere and on the subsequent tour of Kabbalah by Stewart Wallace and Michael Korie, and appears on the Koch International Classics recording. She created the role of Rose in the premiere of The World is Round by James Sellars on a text by Gertrude Stein. Another premiere, Aethelred the Unready by Richard Wilson, marked her debut with the American Symphony Chamber Orchestra. For her next appearance with the ASCO, she sang Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915.
Holvik has appeared on television, radio, and in concert with the acclaimed recital series, New York Festival of Song, and appears with William Sharp and pianist Steven Blier on a NYFOS recording released by Koch International Classics, Zipperfly & Other Songs by Marc Blitzstein. Holvik has also sung concerts throughout the United States as part of Trio Con Voce, with pianist Brian Suits and violinist Kyung Sun Lee, and appeared frequently in New York with the popular series “Friends and Enemies of New Music.” She has been a featured soloist in numerous seasons with the Boulder and Kalamazoo Bach Festivals, and she appeared at the Colorado Music Festival in Boulder singing Mozart concert arias and Beethoven’s Egmont songs. In 2002, she premiered the songs of Vivian Fung during a residency in Florence, Italy, sponsored by the Atlantic Center for the Arts. In 2007, Holvik appeared as Julie LaVerne in Mercury Opera Rochester’s production of Show Boat in the Eastman Theater. Other recent performances include a featured appearance with the New York Festival of Song for their 20th Anniversary Gala in Zankel Hall in New York, and an appearance at the 50th Anniversary Gala Concert of the Joy in Singing Competition in Merkin Hall.
Master’s degree and performer’s certificate in opera, Eastman School of Music. Former faculty of the University of Missouri-Columbia, Vassar College, New York University, and the Eastman School of Music.