Karen Murphy is an active collaborative pianist and has performed with singers and choirs throughout the United States and abroad. She was the tour accompanist for the Phoenix Boys Choir, recording several CDs with them. Her performances with the choir include such venues as the Washington Cathedral, Lake Chautauqua, and Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. While pursuing her doctorate at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, she was choir accompanist for St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota, premiering Emma Lou Diemer’s Shift and Evensong for choir and organ. She was also a collaborative performer for the Reception Recital for Minnesota Orchestra conductor, Osmo Vänskä. Dr. Murphy has served abroad as a collaborative pianist and vocal coach for such events as the Festival Internacional de Música de Campina Grande, Brazil. She is a collaborative pianist for state and regional NATS and MTNA competitions in the southwestern and southeastern regions.
Starting piano at the age of four with her father as her first teacher, she holds solo and collaborative performance degrees from Indiana University, Arizona State University, and the University of Minnesota. Her secondary area of study while at the University of Minnesota was musicology, specifically women and music during the Renaissance period as revealed through art. Her primary piano teachers include Eugenia Nicks-O’Reilly, Alfonso Montecino, Janice Meyer-Thompson, Ekhart Sellheim, Timothy Lovelace and Margo Garrett. She is dedicated to the training and education of collaborative pianists.
Dr. Murphy served as a musical director at the Arizona Family Theater in Phoenix, Arizona. She has premiered several new works including the Southwest premier of Ellwood Derr's song-cycle Six Songs of Sundry Sorts for soprano, alto saxophone and piano, Lori Laitman's song-cycle The Blood Jet where Laitman praised her performance as extremely sensitive and musical, and she will premier Jonathan Kolm’s song cycle Sanctuaries of Heaven and Earth with soprano Kathy Price. With William L. Giles Distinguished English Professor Nancy D. Hargrove, Murphy collaborates annually in presenting interdisciplinary programs on such poets as Sylvia Plath, Emily Dickinson, T.S. Elliot, Langston Hughes, Robert Frost, e.e. cummings, Shakespeare, and in 2018 the three poets: Yeats, Housman and Sitwell will be primary in the program The Brits are Coming! Dr. Murphy has received numerous grants for commissioning new works by American composers including Forever Alleluia by Dawn Sonntag in memory of MSU music faculty member Leanne Fazio; Sanctuaries of Heaven and Earth by Jonathan Kolm using texts by ancient female saints; and Isaiah 11:1-9 by David Hurd in honor of Dr. Anita George and her life-long work in race relations.
Programs presented by Dr. Murphy for the MSU Gender Studies Department include Mississippi’s All Girl Band: The International Sweethearts of Rhythm and All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go: Home Alone with the Virginal. Both programs discussed the involvement and reception of women and music from different time periods.
Dr. Murphy is the current Independent Music Teachers Forum Chair for MMTA. Her pre-college private piano students in Arizona and Mississippi have won awards at the local and state levels. She has served as an adjudicator for piano events in the southwestern and southeastern regions. In addition, she has served churches across the United States as organist, choir and handbell director and holds the Colleague degree with the American Guild of Organists. She is currently the Organist/Choirmaster at the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, Starkville. She is a member of both Sigma Alpha Iota International Fraternity of Music and the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. When not engaged in musical activities she enjoys time with her husband, Richard, and their precocious Shih-poo, Felix (Mendelssohn) as well as spoiling her four grand-children.