Faculty & Staff

Karen Johnson


Adjunct Applied Faculty

  • Violin


  • B.M., The Juilliard School
  • M.M., University of Maryland

As a soloist, chamber, and orchestral musician, Karen Johnson’s playing has been applauded for its “balance and precision”, as well as her “enthusiastic showmanship of impressive energy and accuracy” (Washington Post) and her performances hailed as “virtuosically energized and broadly lyrical” (Richmond Times-Dispatch). In a review of a solo CD (Brioso Records) with pianist Joanne Kong, the American Record Guide stated, “It is a real pleasure to discover a violinist of the caliber of Karen Johnson… Her tone is broad and pure, her attacks are flawlessly incisive, her vibrato nicely modulated, and her intonation infallible…”

Ms. Johnson has performed in concerts throughout the United States and Europe and has worked with a variety of renowned conductors and musicians, such as James DePriest, Sergiu Commissiona, Yuri Temirkanov, Victor Yampolsky, Gerard Schwarz, and Joseph Silverstein. From 2002-2011, Karen was Concertmaster of the Richmond Symphony Orchestra. In addition, she was invited as a guest concertmaster with orchestras such as the Seattle Symphony, Phoenix Symphony, and the Oregon Symphony. Ms. Johnson was recently featured as soloist at WCVE’s celebration of Robert Schumann’s bicentennial.

Ms. Johnson began her musical studies in her hometown of Gilbert, AZ, at the age of 4. At age 10, she became the pupil of Dr. William Magers at Arizona State University and under his tutelage won such competitions as the Corpus Christi International Young Artist Competition, the Midland-Odessa National Young Artist Competition, the National MTNA Yamaha String Competition. Ms. Johnson earned her Bachelor of Music degree at the Juilliard School as the pupil of Joel Smirnoff and was the first prize winner of several local and national competitions, including the Juilliard Sibelius Violin Concerto Competition. She completed her Masters degree at the University of Maryland – College Park studying with William Preucil, Concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra and former first violinist of the Cleveland Quartet.

Currently, Ms. Johnson is a regular performer in the Washington DC area, currently as Concertmaster of the White House Orchestra and also as a soloist and as a chamber musician. She is a founding member of the Phillips Camerata, presenting chamber music concerts both at the Phillips Collection as well as the National Gallery of Art. Karen resides in Stafford, VA,with husband Karl Johnson and their five children.