- Lecturer, Alexander Technique
Clarinetist Karen Benda is an avid chamber musician, recitalist, and artist-teacher who plays with a "well-defined sound and nuance of phrasing." (Cincinnati Enquirer). She is also an Alexander Technique instructor in the Lawrence, Kansas area teaching private and group classes. During the summers, Benda is Instructor of Clarinet and Alexander Technique at the renowned Interlochen Center for the Arts. She has presented numerous chamber music concerts at the Interlochen Arts Camp while also being featured on National Public Radio's Performance Today. Benda has held teaching residencies at the University of Costa Rica and in Colombia, South America as an artist-faculty member of the Youth Philharmonic of Colombia. She also performs and gives masterclasses with her chamber group, TheAmical Trio.
An advocate of body awareness for musicians, Benda is certified in the Alexander Technique through Alexander Technique International having graduated from the Houston School of Alexander Technique. She has additional training in Living in the Body level I which explores anatomy in movement.
Benda has performed at various venues including the Sunflower Music Festival, the International Clarinet Association Clarinet Fest, and the International Double Reed Society. She has held positions at Washburn University, Ohio University, and the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music Preparatory Department. Her festival participation includes Aspen Music Festival, Music Academy of the West, and a substitute position with the New World Symphony. Benda holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Michigan, a Master’s degree from Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and a Music Education degree from the University of Oklahoma.
Benda’s early musical studies were in folk music followed by training in classical music. Born in Oklahoma City near a small American-Czech community, Czech folk music and dancing provided the backbone to her study of the clarinet, and she remains actively involved in the culture of her ethnicity. Her other hobbies include kayaking, swimming, cooking, and hiking. She resides on a small farm between Topeka and Lawrence with her husband and dogs, George & Hazel.