Described as “radiant” and “expressive” (The New York Times) and “nothing less than gorgeous” (Memphis Commercial Appeal), cellist Karen Ouzounian approaches music-making with a deeply communicative and passionate spirit. Winner of the S&R Foundation’s 2016 Washington Award and at home in diverse musical settings, she is drawn towards unusual collaborations and eclectic contemporary repertoire.
Karen is a founding member of the Aizuri Quartet, which was awarded the Grand Prize at the 2018 M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition, as well as top prizes at the 2017 Osaka International Chamber Music Competition in Japan and the 2015 Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition in London. The MetLiveArts String Quartet-in-Residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for its 2017-18 season, the Quartet has held residencies at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, Curtis Institute of Music, and the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. The Quartet has commissioned and premiered works by many of today’s most exciting composers and was featured in the 2017 premiere of the chamber opera “Sophia’s Forest” by Lembit Beecher, along with soprano Kiera Duffy and custom-built, electronically-controlled sound sculptures. Its debut album Blueprinting, a collection of works written for the Quartet by Lembit Beecher, Yevgeniy Sharlat, Caroline Shaw, Gabriella Smith, and Paul Wiancko, was released by New Amsterdam Records in Fall 2018 and nominated for a 2019 GRAMMY Award.
In addition to her work with the Aizuri Quartet, Karen performs with Silkroad, the organization founded by Yo-Yo Ma to create music that engages differences. Her commitment to adventurous repertoire and the collaborative process has led to her membership in the Grammy-nominated, self-conducted chamber orchestra A Far Cry and the critically-acclaimed new music collective counter)induction. Highlights of Karen’s recent and upcoming seasons include solo appearances with the Orlando Philharmonic and Philharmonic Orchestra of Santiago, international tours with the Silkroad Ensemble, Mark Morris Dance Group and The Knights, recitals at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts with pianist Ieva Jokubaviciute, a tour of Japan with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and tours with Musicians from Marlboro and Musicians from Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute. Additionally she has performed as guest principal of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, IRIS Orchestra, and Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia.
Born to Armenian parents in Toronto, Karen was a prizewinner at the 2012 Canada Council for the Arts Musical Instrument Bank Competition. She holds Master of Music and Bachelor of Music degrees from The Juilliard School, where she was a student of Timothy Eddy. She resides in New York City with her husband, composer Lembit Beecher.