Following three successful seasons (1996-1999) as Acting Principal Trumpet of the National Arts Centre Orchestra of Canada (NACO), Karen Donnelly was unanimously appointed Principal Trumpet in October 1999, and continues to enjoy each year with this wonderful ensemble.
A native of Regina, Saskatchewan, Karen started the trumpet in her elementary school band. Her studies included programs at the University of Regina and McGill University. Following graduation, while freelancing in Montreal, she performed with most ensembles including the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal and Les Violons du Roi.
Prior to the NACO, Karen held the position of Principal Trumpet with Orchestra London (Canada) from 1994-1996, and was invited to play with many ensembles in southwestern Ontario during her time there.
Chamber music projects have included performances with the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival, Rideau Lakes Brass Quintet, Music and Beyond, Capital BrassWorks. In 2008, Capital Brass Works released its third album, “Gabriel’s Sister” featuring Ms. Donnelly as soloist. Many performances on the NAC’s Music for a Sunday Afternoon series including a recital with Alain Trudel. Most recently, recording and performing with the super star group, Canadian National Brass Project.
Karen has been soloist with professional orchestras, community amateur orchestras, and many local school bands. These include Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra, Kington Symphony, Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra London, McGill Symphony Orchestra, Hannaford Silver Street Band and Youth Band, Maple Leaf Brass Band, Parkdale Orchestra, University of Regina Wind Ensemble, and the Regina Catholic Schools Honour Band.
Music education has always been very close to Karen’s heart. She has given master classes and workshops in Switzerland, Mexico, China, United States, United Kingdom and Canada from coast to coast. Ms. Donnelly joined the teaching staff at the University of Ottawa in 2002, and since 2009, Karen has been assisting with the “Orkidstra” program, the local ‘El Systema’ inspired program.
Most recently, Karen spearheaded an exciting new initiative called the Canadian Women’s Brass Collective. This group of talented all female musicians presented concerts, master classes and lectures in Toronto during January 2019 over a five day conference to great acclaim.
While influenced by so many great musicians, Karen has been very fortunate to study with James Thompson, Robert Earley, Barbara Butler, Michael Sachs, Phil Smith and the late Mr. Arnold Jacob and Vincent Chicowicz. And of course her first trumpet teacher Dr. Ed Lewis who helped keep the trumpet in her hands.