Education and Background
Karen Sremac received her Performers Certificate and Master’s of Music in clarinet from the Eastman School of Music, where she studied with Stanley Hasty. She was the only clarinet student accepted into the master’s program that year. She received her Bachelors of Music in clarinet from USC, where she studied with Mitchell Lurie.
Karen also studied clarinet extensively with David Breeden, Don Carroll and David Neuman of the San Francisco Symphony and Rosario Mazzeo of the Boston Symphony.
Karen has been the principal clarinetist of the Santa Cruz County Symphony since 1990. She also performs regularly with the Violeto Trio and arranges music for the unique combination of violin, clarinet and cello. Karen performs on all the clarinets: Bb, A, Eb, basset horn and bass, and on saxophones: soprano, alto and tenor. She has performed in many orchestras including the San Francisco Ballet and Opera, San Jose Symphony and now Symphony Silicon Valley, San Jose Ballet, Carmel Bach Festival, Midsummer Mozart, Heidelberg Germany Festival and West Bay Opera. She has performed under the batons of many great conductors including Michael Tilson Thomas, Leonard Bernstein, Eric Leindsdorf, and Herbert Bloomstedt.
Karen has also been honored to perform as soloist with many groups including the Rochester Philharmonic, Santa Cruz County Symphony, Master Sinfonia, Palo Alto Symphony, Redwood Symphony, and in Europe with the Daniel String Quartet.
Karen has enjoyed teaching privately since 1985. Some of her students have gone on to play in symphonies and/or teach in universities. One year, despite the seemingly impossible odds, the only two clarinetists from throughout the United States to be chosen to perform as members of the National Youth Orchestra at Carnegie Hall were both from Karen’s studio. Karen has previously been on the faculty at the College of Notre Dame, Belmont, and the Santa Clara University.
Karen Sremac joined the faculty at CSMA in 2008. She teaches private clarinet and saxophone lessons.
Karen really enjoys the challenge of finding new ways to teach an understanding of the instrument and the expression of music. She strongly believes that each person learns in a slightly different manner, and therefore creates custom practice plans for each individual based on their goals and how they best learn. She strives to meet each musical and technical challenge with just the right approach for that person for that time in their development, thereby building their self-confidence and enjoyment of music.
In the Words of Others
“Karen is the best teacher ever! When I switched to alto saxophone and struggled in band class, I started taking lessons with her. She covered everything from embouchure to rhythm to posture! I got much more confident in band class and got A’s on all my playing tests! And taking a lesson with Karen was always tons of fun… she would make up acronyms to remember things, like ‘WFTDB,’ or ‘Wait For The Down Beat’! Karen has a fun, creative, and very effective teaching method that will help any student, from beginning players to even the most advanced.” (student)
“Karen is a wonderfully gifted and encouraging teacher. She combines an obvious love of music with the ability to communicate clearly and effectively with her students. She helps students experience a real sense of accomplishment and to have fun while doing so.” (student)
“…performing the haunting smooth wind solos woven throughout the Sinfonia, Sremac in particular was quite striking in her performance, playing with obvious feeling and depth, the notes of her clarinet rising above the orchestra, then melting back into the body of work almost imperceptibly.” (Santa Cruz Sentinel)
“…Clarinetist Karen Sremac a most successful graduate of the Eastman School of Music (USA) was impressive in her warm, all but immaculate tone and her extremely sensitive feeling for sound. These qualities are particularly invaluable in this composition, (Brahms Quintet), for the clarinet here is not only dominant melodically, but also has accompaniment tasks to fulfill.” (Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung)