The Musicians

Karen's Photo

Karen Bair Boling (Viola)

Member of J SYM: Since 1987

Hometown: Boston -- but in western New York, not Massachusetts! Most of Karen's family now live in Texas and Salt Lake City.

Education: Karen earned a Bachelor of Music in performance from Syracuse University, and then studied extensively with Russian emigre Eduard Gindin. He had been principal viola of the Moscow Radio Orchestra and taught at the University before coming to the states and playing for Syracuse Symphony.


Musical study: "My mother taught us to sing and read music before we went to school. We were very fortunate that our school district had a really great music program - maybe because we lived in a very small town that saw a lot of snow! Both of my sisters also studied the viola, but I was the one who really loved it."  

Performance experience: Karen was a member of the Savannah Symphony for four years and also has played with the symphonies in Syracuse, Charleston, and Columbia, as well as the Atlanta Ballet. Solos with the Jacksonville Symphony include the Dittersdorf Sinfonia Concertante for Bass and Viola and the orchestral solos from the Adams ballet Giselle, the Enesco Rumanian Rhapsody No. 1 and the Kodaly Hary Janos Suite, among others. Karen has also performed for nine summers in the Spoleto Festival of Two Worlds, often as principal viola, and loves playing opera. In the summer of 2005 and again in the summer of 2007, she has returned to Italy, touring with the Santa Monica Chamber Orchestra.

Teaching: Karen is doing some private teaching and coaching for the Youth Orhcestra and occasionally for Douglas Anderson School of the Arts.

Grammy winner: Karen might be the only JSO member with a Grammy award, for the Spoleto Festival's recording of Samuel Barber's opera Antony and Cleopatra in 1984.

Instruments: Karen performs on a modern Italian viola, made in Rome in 1967 by Giuseppe Ferrari da Ferrara ("Yes, I drive a Toyota and I play a Ferrari,” she quips.) and also uses a viola made for her in 1977 by James Coggin.

Home life: Karen and her husband Jim live in Baymeadows with two very large, sweet Lab somethings, rescued from the side of the road as infants.  Clue is brown and beautiful and lives to chase tennis balls, while Chester is black and stocky, and lives to eat.

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