Dr. Karen Dannessa is an active performer whose playing has been described as "...magical...notable...with a full, centered, silky tone..." (The Clarinet). Recent performances as a clarinet artist include appearances at numerous regional, national, and international conventions such as the International Clarinet Association Convention (1995, 1997, 2004, 2007, 2008), the International Double Reed Society Convention (1996, 1998, 2003), Montana Clarinet Festival (1995), and the University of Oklahoma Clarinet Symposium (1993). Having an affinity for chamber music she has performed extensively across the United States with Colloquy, an ensemble dedicated to commissioning and performing contemporary music. Colloquy has been described as ..."a tour de force"...(Texas Moniter) and the group consistently performs throughout California and has also appeared in London, England and Mexico.
As clarinetist of Quintsylvania Winds, the faculty woodwind quintet at West Chester University, she performed in the ensemble's New York City debut recital at Carnegie Hall (May 2008), presenting a program of music by American composers. She also appeared as clarinet soloist at the Heraklion Arts Festival in Crete, Greece in August 2008. In addition she has performed with the Audubon Quartet and presented lecture recitals for the College Music Society. Dannessa, along with WCU oboe professor, Henry Grabb, released her first recording, American Lyrique, in May 2002 (available from www.tundradogsmusic.com). The compact disc includes the clarinet music of John G. MacKay, Jr. and Mark Sforzini. The International Clarinet Association review states "praise is due Karen Dannessa for producing a CD of music that is so unique and virtually unknown, and her playing reveals a mature musicality."
As Duo del Sol, she and Grabb have created a repertoire for clarinet and English horn by commissioning and premiering works from composers Alejandro Arguello, Mark Rimple, Katherine Murdock, Jason Haney, Mark Sforzini, Howard Buss, and Matthew Herman. Duo del Sol premiered two commissioned works for clarinet and English horn in Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall in June 2003. Dannessa has also performed as a freelance clarinetist in orchestras along the eastern seaboard as well as with the Springfield Symphony Orchestra and the American Wind Symphony Orchestra.
Dannessa regularly publishes articles and reviews in The Clarinet, journal for the International Clarinet Association. Her private teachers include Frank Kowalsky, Elsa Ludewig-Verdehr, and Joseph Edwards. Prior to her appointment at West Chester University, Dannessa served on the faculties of Clarion University and Pittsburg State University for sixteen years. She earned a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Youngstown State University, a Master of Music in Performance/Woodwind Specialty from Michigan State University and the Doctor of Music in Clarinet Performance from Florida State University. She is currently an associate professor in the WCU School of Music.