Karen Clark’s singing has received high praise from major journals nationwide, such as the New York Times, who said: ”With minimal vibrato and malleable tone, Ms. Clark showed an astonishing range of expressive subtlety, carrying the listener rapt.” Karen’s recent recording with the Galax Quartet, On Cold Mountain: Songs on Poems of Gary Snyder (Innova), is praised by Joshua Kosman of The San Francisco Chronicle, who writes, “Clark’s majestic, throaty singing hints of modernist extravagance and medieval troubadours.” Karen’s repertory spans the centuries to include premieres of medieval passions and new works by living composers and poets, such as, the Greater Passion Play from the Carmina Burana ms. (Thomas Binkley ed.), and the microtonal music of Ben Johnston. The Los Angeles Times review of Karen’s recent premiere of Johnston’s Parable-Poems on Rumi said: “Karen Clark brought a rich intensity to the stories. The performance was stunning.” In 2014 a recording of Parable is due out on the Microfest label. In March, Karen performs Arnold Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire on Concerts at Old First in San Francisco. And in June (during Berkeley Festival Week), Karen sings music by her medieval mentor, Saint Hildegard von Bingen.
Since 2005, the Galax Quartet has been commissioning new music, exploring early works, and performing these in unexpected collaborations. The quartet has performed new works (Marc Mellits, Carl Stone, Dan Becker) on concert series in Northern California; played Bach’s Art of the Fugue alongside Hubble Telescope images at the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival; recorded film music by Belinda Reynolds for PBS (The New Metropolis); and accompanied computer images from virtual worlds with mathematician and sci-fi writer Rudy Rucker. The Galax Quartet is modeled after an early version of the string quartet—two violins, cello and viola da gamba—developed by the eighteenth-century composer and viola da gamba virtuoso Carl Friedrich Abel. Their 2011 recording, On Cold Mountain: Songs on Poems of Gary Snyder, is published by Innova, available as well on iTunes. The quartet is an affiliate of the San Francisco Early Music Society.