Karen Sinclair, Violin and Co-Artistic Administrator
Violinist Karen Sinclair enjoys an active performance career as an orchestral and chamber musician. A native of West Chester, Pennsylvania, she has been a member of the Phoenix Symphony’s first violin section since 2008. During the summer months, Karen performs for ten weeks with the Grant Park Orchestra in Chicago, where she has been a first violinist since 2007. An avid chamber musician, Karen has been featured many times on Phoenix’s Downtown Chamber Series and has performed with groups such as Mill Ave Chamber Players and Fountain Hills Chamber Players. She is the co-artistic administrator of Urban Nocturnes, a Phoenix-based chamber ensemble made up of six of the area’s finest musicians, which she founded with Phoenix Symphony colleague, Christopher McKay.
Karen made her solo debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra when she was eleven years old and subsequently returned to perform as a soloist with the same orchestra on two other occasions. Her major awards include top prizes at the Tibor Varga International Violin Competition in Switzerland and the International Competition of Padua, Italy, where she performed as soloist with orchestra in the final round. Karen’s professional orchestral experience includes performances as a substitute with the Philadelphia Orchestra, The Philharmonia Orchestra (London), Houston Symphony, and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. A former member of the Canton Symphony in Ohio, she was featured several times as soloist with the orchestra during her tenure there. During the 2017/18 season, she appeared as a soloist with the Phoenix Symphony conducted by music director Tito Munoz on the orchestra’s Classics Series, performing Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante with violist Mark Deatherage. She holds degrees from the Curtis Institute of Music, Royal Academy of Music in London, and Rice University, and her major teachers have included Jascha Brodsky, Yumi Ninomiya Scott, Gyorgy Pauk, Kathleen Winkler and William Preucil.
Christopher McKay, Viola and Co-Artistic Administrator
In 2008, Christopher McKay joined The Phoenix Symphony as a section viola player and is currently the Acting Assistant Principal Viola, a post he has held since 2009. Maintaining an active orchestral performing career, his other current orchestral engagements include performances with the Grant Park Orchestra in Chicago and the Central City Opera in Colorado. Previous orchestral experience includes a one-year position with the Louisville Orchestra from 2007-08, substitute with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, and positions with the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra, Owensboro Symphony, New Jersey Opera, Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra, and the Lancaster Festival Orchestra.
In addition to his extensive orchestral experience, Mr. McKay’s career also includes chamber musician, soloist, and teacher. From 2001-07 he held a unique position with the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra and the University of Evansville that included a residency with the Eykamp String Quartet. As a member of the Quartet he performed numerous concerts each year at the University, gave various outreach concerts in and around the Evansville metropolitan area, and coached University and Youth Orchestra students in chamber and orchestral music. As Principal Viola of the Philharmonic he had the opportunity to perform as a soloist in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola in 2004, and performed the part of Sancho Panza in Richard Strauss’ Don Quixote in 2006. His duties as Adjunct Instructor of Viola at the University included teaching private viola lessons and performing solo recitals.
As a passionate chamber musician, Mr. McKay, along with TPS first violinist Karen Sinclair, founded the modular chamber music ensemble Urban Nocturnes in 2009. Born out of friendship and a desire to collaborate together, this ensemble has expanded to a six-person roster and is dedicated to the highest level of performance of the traditional chamber music repertoire. As a Phoenix based ensemble they are currently Artists-in-Residence at the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Phoenix, AZ.
Mr. McKay received his viola performance degrees from Louisiana State University (BM) and Indiana University (MM), and has twice been a fellow at the world renowned Tanglewood Arts Center. His primary teachers were Julian Wilkison, Alan deVeritch, and Jerzy Kosmala, with additional instruction from Paul Neubauer and James Dunham.