Karen singing LIBERA ME - Verdi Requiem

Karen Parks received her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Furman University, where she now serves on the Presidential Advisory Council, and a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Texas at Austin. While pursuing a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Vocal Performance and Vocal Pedagogy from the University of California at Santa Barbara, Ms. Parks was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship for Voice, which enabled her to study exclusively with Maestro Gabriele Pisani at the prestigious La Scala Opera House in Milan, Italy. She was asked to join the San Francisco Opera, touring the role of MicaŽla in Bizet’s Carmen and also invited to perform the role of Nedda in Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci for three seasons in the Castle at The  Savonlinna Opera Festival in Savonlinna, Finland.

Ms. Parks has performed in major opera houses and concert halls in many European countries including Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria, England, France, Switzerland, Denmark, Russia, Sweden, Finland, Hungary and Estonia. Her performances in America include debuts with recognized orchestras and conductors including Carnegie Recital Hall, Alice Tully Hall, The Kennedy Center, Meyerson Hall, San Francisco Opera and The Boston Pops. Other roles and works with various companies and orchestras include Verdi’s Requiem, Faurťís Requiem, Ralph Vaughan Williamsí Dona Nobis Pacem, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Mahler’s Second Symphony, DvořŠk’s Te Deum, Bach’s Magnificat, Handel’s Messiah, Mařenka in Smetana’s The Bartered Bride and the role of Harriet Tubman in two different operas (Harriet and Frederick Douglass). By special commission, she was the first artist to record an English language album (Nocturne) of Finnish classical music from Finnish poetry.

Ms. Parks’ chamber music performances include appearances at the Next Generation Festival in Pennsylvania where she sang The Romance Suite by Dmitri Shostakovich (in Russian). She also performed Osvaldo Golijov’s Lúa Descolorida and the Mozart concert aria Ch'io mi scordi di te? Non temer amato bene as well as Antonio Vivaldi's Domine Deus , Six Elizabeth an Songs and To Be Sung Upon the Water by Dominick Argento. Her performance repertoire also includes Mark Biggam's Three Songs on Love and Death and Schubert’s Der Hirt auf dem Felsen, sung on several occasions.

In addition to being a Fulbright scholar, Ms. Parks is also a member of Phi Kappa Phi national academic honor society, Mu Phi Epsilon and NATS. She is the recipient of the Cadeau Foundation Grant, which she used for study with renowned soprano Renata Scotto. Having won the Puccini Competition, Ms. Parks was granted a New York City performance at Alice Tully Hall and mentored by the great soprano, Licia Albanese, for many years.

Ms. Parks has also graced the London theater stage, making her debut as Cindy Lou (MicaŽla) in the West End production of Carmen Jones, Oscar Hammerstein’s reworking of Bizet’s opera Carmen. Her performance in that production resulted in the nomination for an Olivier Award. She sang the world premiere of Heikki Sarmanto's Perfect Harmony, which was televised and aired internationally. Her notable recordings include Nobody Knows: Songs of Harry T. Burleigh, which she launched with a national tour following its debut at #2 on the Billboard Charts (classical), Journeys of the Heart, Nocturne, and Spiritually Yours: A Private Collection, Song of America on Thirty Tigers, Carmen Jones on EMI, Perfect Harmony on Time Warner, Opera Ebony Sings Spirituals on Ebony Classics Records, Symphony of Spirituals on Naxos Records, Handel’s Messiah , and I Hear Music In The Air.

A sought after vocal instructor, Ms. Parks conducts Master Classes internationally and serves on the voice faculty at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. She established Ottimavoce, Inc. (a production and recording company) and also operates The Studio for Vocal Refinement (a private voice studio) with clients worldwide.

Karen is President and CEO of Stagebound, Inc., which presents Vocal Intensives/Workshops, seminars and produces professional performances. Ms. Parks has taught at both the university level and at a performing arts magnet high school. She has performed in twelve languages and continues to travel and perform worldwide. Her most recent performances include solo recitals at the world renowned Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria as well as performances in Milan, Italy, New York City and Perm, Russia marking the 75th anniversary of the Perm Festival.

In the US, Ms. Parks has been the National Panelist for YoungArts in the classical vocal division and was Master Teacher for the first regional program (YoungArts Miami). YoungArts is the core program of the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts (NFAA), which recognizes and supports America's most talented high school artists in the visual, literary and performing arts and includes nominating future Presidential Scholars in the Arts.