“When I play a Steinway, my heart warms, my fingers ignite in excitement, my ears tickle in delight of the wondrous sounds, and my eyes no longer see black and white notes but colors of a rainbow high in the brilliant sky. Music is unleashed from within when I play a Steinway. I can't imagine a day without playing my Steinway.” - Karen Walwyn
Karen Walwyn is an Albany Recording Artist, and the first female African American pianist/ composer to receive the Steinway Artist Award.
A native of New York, Concert Pianist Karen Walwyn made her New York solo piano debut at
Merkin Hall as a follow-up to her 2-CD series for Albany Records entitled Dark Fires, offering
premiere recordings of works by American composers of African descent. Bill Faucett from The
American Record Guide said “ Walwyn's pianism is superb”, and Peter Burwasser from Fanfare
Magazine said “Walwyn gets through this technically demanding program with aplomb. Her
rhythmic nimbleness is especially notable.” She did the premiere performance of the Florence Price
Piano Concerto in One Movement with the New Black Music Repertory Ensemble. Noted music critic, Bob McQuiston, wrote: “Walwyn provides a magnificent account of the concerto displaying her
considerable technical skills” of the Albany Records album.
As a Composer, she received the Global Award: Gold Medal - Award of Excellence for her recording
of her composition entitled Reflections on 9/11. Robert Schulslaper of Fanfare Magazine wrote:
“Imaginatively conceived and executed, it both disturbingly transposes the catastrophe into
appropriately cataclysmic sound and artistically suggests the aftermath’s lingering sense of numbing
devastation.” The demand for concerts of this seven-movement ‘tour de force’ continuously carries
her across the nation for command performances, which was first premiered in full at the Kennedy
Center in Washington, D.C.
As a Mellon Faculty Fellow at the John Hope Franklin Institute, Duke University, Walwyn composed
her debut choral work entitled Of Dance & Struggle: A Musical Tribute on the Life of Nelson
Mandela, (Choir/Solo Piano/African Percussion) commissioned and performed by the Elon University Chorale under the direction of Dr. Gerald Knight. It has been heralded by the South African Embassy in Washington, D.C. as “a monumental work for our beloved president, Nelson Mandela.”
Dr. Walwyn, Area Coordinator of Keyboard Studies at Howard University, is in constant concert
demand nationally and internationally for both her repertoire from Frédéric Chopin to Florence
Price, as well as for performances of her own works for solo piano, choir and instrumental ensemble.
Some recent concerts include appearances in Johannesburg, South Africa; Barcelona, Spain;
Tenerife, Canary Islands; Salzburg, Austria; London, England; and Nice, France. Nationally, Walwyn
has performed throughout the contiguous United States, Hawaii, West Indies and the Virgin Islands.