Karen BeckerProfessor of Cello, Area Head for Strings
Area of Focus: Strings
MM in Cello Performance, University of Texas at Austin
DMA in Cello Performance, University of Texas at Austin
Cellist Karen Becker is a passionate and dedicated soloist, chamber musician, and teacher. Her career has taken her around the world to places such as the Czech Republic, England, Korea, Mexico, Norway, Switzerland, and throughout the United States. National and international festival appearances include the Ameropa Music Festival in Prague, SoundWaves Music Festival, Red Lodge Music Festival, and more. While in Prague, Becker performed in a series of concerts in a variety of venues throughout the city, such as the prestigious Suk Hall at the Rudolfinum, Martinu Hall at the Academy of Music, and the Hall of Mirrors at the Klementinum.
Concerto performances include those by Dvorak, Elgar, Haydn (D Major), Saint-Saens (A minor), Schumann, Tchaikovsky (Rococo), Vivaldi, as well as the Nebraska premiere of Swedish composer Kurt Atterberg’s beautiful neo-romantic cello concerto with the Lincoln Symphony Orchestra. Dr. Becker is a former member of Trio Nuovo and the Omega String Quartet. She has served as principal cellist of both the Melkus Ensemble and the International String Orchestra in England, Norway, and Switzerland, has appeared as soloist and principal cellist with the Texas Cello Choir at the American String Teachers National Conference and the Midwest Band & Orchestra Clinic, and on “Front Row Center,” a Texas Public Television program.
Becker tours regularly as a soloist and chamber musician, particularly as cellist of the Concordia String Trio. Their recordings, Viennese String Trios, American Vistas, and From the Heart of Ra: New Chamber Music for Viola by Andrew List can be found on Spotify, iTunes, and other streaming services, which were recorded on the Centaur label. Her recording, American Landscapes (works by Samuel Barber, Libby Larson, George Walker, and more) will be released in 2023, also through Centaur Records.
She enjoys learning new music, having given numerous world premieres, solo and chamber. In 2015 Dr. Becker gave the world premiere of Laurence Sherr’s Sonata for Cello and Piano: Mir Zaynen Do! at the University of Nebraska. Two years later she gave the California premiere as part of Daniel Pearl World Music Days. Becker has recorded for several PBS documentaries and independent films, including Ashes from the Dust, Monkey Trial, Willa Cather: The Road is All, and Lovely Still, and can be heard on the CD Digital Ash in a Digital Urn with the band Bright Eyes. She has been featured numerous times on American Public Media’s Performance Today.
Becker enjoys improvisation by combining music and dance with her dance colleagues, and has had students participate in similar collaborations with dance students. In May 2019, Becker and dance colleague Hye-Won Hwang traveled to Seoul, South Korea with Glenn Korff School of Music students. While in Seoul, they led master classes for high school and college-age cellists and gave collaborative performances in several venues.
Dr. Becker is an enthusiastic teacher who enjoys serving as a cello clinician and master teacher for cellists of all ages. She has worked with young musicians as a guest conductor and clinician and in Lincoln as former director of the Junior Youth Orchestra, part of the Lincoln Public Schools youth orchestra program. She has conducted several orchestras in the University of Texas String Project, and has appeared as guest conductor/clinician for honors orchestras throughout the United States. She is honored to have been invited to give the Pre-Collegiate Cello Master Class at the March 2023 ASTA National Conference in Orlando. She always looks forward to having the opportunity to work with new students and help inspire them to become better musicians. During the summer of 2023, Dr. Becker will serve as artist faculty for the Red Lodge Music Festival (Montana), Omaha Conservatory's SoundWaves music camp, and as Visiting Artist Faculty for the International Cello Institute.
An active member of the American String Teachers Association (ASTA), Becker is a past president of both the Nebraska and Missouri chapters and has presented at numerous ASTA National Conferences, including those held in Atlanta, Georgia; Kansas City, Missouri; Louisville, Kentucky; Reno, Nevada; Providence, Rhode Island; Salt Lake City, Utah; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Orlando, Florida. Dr. Becker has been on the planning committee for ASTA National Conventions and served on the organization’s committees at the national level. She is a recipient of the ASTA Citation for Leadership & Merit.
Becker received her Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music degrees from the University of Texas at Austin and the Bachelor of Music degree from Ohio University. Her teachers have included her father David Becker, Leighton Conkling, Roger Drinkall, and internationally renowned string/cello pedagogue, Phyllis Young. Before coming to Nebraska, she was cello professor at Truman State University and taught in the University of Texas String Project. An avid cyclist, she enjoys endurance cycling and participating in century rides.
CoursesMUAP 107 - 907: Applied Cello
MUSC 462K/862K: Cello Literature & Pedagogy (spring semester)
MUDC 352: Chamber Music
MUEN 852: Graduate Chamber Music
MUSC 165: Music Theory I (fall semester)
MUSC 165A: Aural Skills I (fall semester)