Karen Brunssen

Associate Professor, Voice and Opera


Karen Brunssen

BM, Luther College

Co-chair, Department of Music Performance. Mezzo-soprano. Karen Brunssen’s singing career has spanned over 30 years including solo appearances with Cleveland Orchestra and Chicago, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Houston, St. Louis, National, San Diego, Seattle, Milwaukee, Netherlands Radio, and Mexico City Symphony Orchestras, Buffalo Philharmonic, Cincinnati Opera, Music of the Baroque, Blossom Festival, Waterloo Festival, Chicago Opera Theatre, Carmel Bach Festival, Colorado Music Festival, and Prague Autumn Festival. Recent engagements include a European tour performing Verdi’s Requiem in Germany, France, Spain and Switzerland as well as at the Berkshire Choral Festival and Memphis Symphony, numerous performance’s of Lee Hoiby’s Bon Appetit, Durafle’s Requiem with Grant Park Music Festival. Recordings include Telemann's Day of Judgment, Mozart's Mass in C Minor, and Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610 with Music of the Baroque, a revival of John Philip Sousa's operetta Desiree, and other recordings on Decca and Vox MMG.  

Noted for her spirited and inspiring presentations, Ms Brunssen is a frequent guest clinician, master teacher, panelist, and adjudicator for  music schools and organizations including the 2011 and 2012 National Association of Teachers of Singing National Workshops in Milwaukee and Memphis, the American Choral Directors Association, Classical Singer Conference and Convention, Association of Teachers of Singing (AOTOS - England), Opera America, Illinois Choral Directors' Association, Iowa Choral Directors' Association and Chorus America. In 2008, 2009, and 2010, Ms. Brunssen was invited to do unique week-long teaching residencies at Cambridge University in England as a guest of Clare College, where she gave voice lessons, master classes, and taught classes and workshops involving 19 of the colleges. She has also taught at the International Institute of Vocal Arts in Chiari, Italy, at Dorian Opera Theatre, and at the International Summer School Music Course at Shrewsbury, England. She is a former president of the Chicago Singing Teachers Guild and a former president of the Chicago Chapter National Association of Teachers of Singing where she started the Annual Vocal Competition that has grown to involve over 400 singers from the Chicagoland area.  

Her recent article, "The Evolving Voice:  Profound at Every Age", appeared in the ACDA's Choral Journal (February 2010) and was based on a 2008 ACDA Central Division interest session presentation titled "Ages of the Voice." It included recorded examples of singing from the ages of 3 months to 103 years of age, highlighting the life cycle of individual voices, professional and amateur, through their years of singing.  

Students of Ms. Brunssen's have gone on to sing professionally and as young artists with the Metropolitan Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Washington National Opera's Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program, Merola and Adler Programs with San Francisco Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Chautauqua, Des Moines Metro Opera, Minnesota Opera, New York City Opera, Wolf Trap, Aspen Music Festival, Chicago Opera Theatre, and Sarasota Opera, and teach in in colleges and universities throughout the United States.