Karen Smith has been with the MSO since 1977. She began playing the violin at age nine, when she participated in a school music program in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She received a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1978. Karen has performed with many music ensembles in the Milwaukee area—Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra, Antara Trio, Great Lakes Baroque, Quartet Dubuffet, and Present Music, to name a few—and has soloed with the MSO on several occasions. She held concertmaster posts with the Woodstock Mozart Festival (Woodstock, Ill.) from 1995-2001; the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra from 1993-1994; and the Racine Symphony from 1987-1988.
Karen considers herself a "dabbler." Outside the MSO, she has pursued personal interests including drawing, painting, writing, ballroom dance, and French language. She received a second degree--a Bachelor of Art (drawing/painting) from the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee in 2007. Her interest in drawing began at an early age, and still coincides with her musical interests.
She also considers herself a journalist, not in the professional sense (although she had a stab at it when she was a correspondent for the Milwaukee Journal during the MSO's 1992 tour to Japan, as well as having had a feature article published in the Milwaukee Journal in 1983, about life as an MSO musician) - she has kept personal journals most of her life, but also keeps sketching, travel, food journals, and anything else she fancies to document.
Karen also designed the illustrations for the MSO League's cookbook, A Concerted Effort. She has had several art showings in local coffee houses and restaurants.
Karen lives with her husband, retired former MSO principal trombonist - and fellow "dabbler" - Donald E. Haack, Sr., in an 1896 home in the Historic Concordia Neighborhood on Milwaukee's near west side.
When not playing in the MSO, she reads, sketches, walks, listens to jazz with Don, cooks, travels (favorite places: Door County, Wis., New Orleans, Chicago, Southwest Michigan) and continues to re-invent herself.
Self portrait by Karen Smith.