Karen Walthinsen has always been fascinated by Europe and its past, so it was quite natural that she should be drawn increasingly farther back in the history of Western music.

After completing both bachelor's and master's degrees in music at Portland State University in the state of Oregon, she went on to spend four years playing violin with the Spokane Symphony. She became an active member of Spokane's artistic and academic life by playing viola in the Spokane String Quartet and teaching music history at Eastern Washington University. It was during this time that Ms. Walthinsen began to become interested in early music, spurred on by friends and colleagues and her own desire to explore a body of music which inspires endless questions and research.

In 1999 Ms. Walthinsen moved to Dresden, Germany where she was invited to study with internationally acclaimed Baroque violinist John Holloway. After earning a certificate from the Hochschule für Musik Carl Maria von Weber, she went on to the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, Netherlands on a Rotary International Scholarship where she studied with Elizabeth Wallfisch. A chance encounter in the Netherlands with Joel Cohen and Anne Azéma resulted in the acquisition of a vielle (constructed by her father, a harpsichord maker) and this was the beginning of her interest in music of the middle ages. Since then she has performed medieval music with the Boston Camerata and VoxAlta, a Basel, Switzerland-based ensemble.

Since 2001 Ms. Walthinsen has been performing with Les Musiciens du Louvre-Grenoble under the direction of Marc Minkowski. She has participated in numerous tours and residencies with the ensemble as well as several recordings on the Deutsche Grammophon Archiv and Decca labels. In addition, she has played with the Musica Fiata, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Les Cyclopes, Harmonie Universelle, Das Neue Orchester, and Mozart Akademie Amsterdam.

Nearly every year for the past six years, Ms. Walthinsen has arranged a major concerto for performance by the Spokane String Quartet and a guest artist. That, along with writing program notes and her doctoral dissertation (about H.I.F Biber's Mystery Sonatas), keeps her busy when she is not making music herself.

Performance Reviews

December 11, 2002 - Excerpt from the Boston Herald by Keith Powers Of the instrumentalists, Walthinsen had the most moments to shine. New to the ensemble, she played a modern-sounding violin as well as a beautiful vielle with a large, raw-boned tone, handling each with musical insight and allure.

January 14, 2001 - Excerpt from the Spokesman Review by William Berry Baroque violinist Karen Walthinsen set the tone, in both the figurative and literal senses. Each time I hear Walthinsen, I like better what I hear. Technique and spirit come together in one package. Her solo and ensemble performances exhibited high standards in both departments, resulting in a crisp sound and a natural musical feel throughout. Walthinsen's expertise consolidated the whole ensemble into a vibrant period performance.

February 10, 1998 - Excerpt from the Spokesman Review by Travis Rivers The evening's surprise came in the spirited, nimble-fingered playing of violinist Karen Walthinsen. Spokane audiences know her playing as the violist of the Spokane String Quartet, occasional appearances as violinist on the programs of Allegro and as a member of the second violin section of the symphony. Nothing previously known about her prepared me for the flair she exhibited Sunday in the intricacies of Biber and Schmelzer, nor for the fun she seemed to be having with the animal imitations in Biber's Sonata Representativa. What a pleasure to be introduced to a fine new talent alongside the established artists heard in previous Bach Festivals.