Karen Savage

Praised as a “tour de force” (Santa Barbara News-Press), for “breathtaking beauty and pure lyricism” (Le Soleil, Vancouver), and for “fearless performance” (The Straits Times, Singapore), Karen Hsiao Savage is Professor of Collaborative Piano and Coordinator of Chamber Music at UMKC Conservatory. She holds a doctoral and two master’s degrees (in solo and collaborative piano) from Juilliard, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Victoria (Canada).

Karen has performed internationally in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Hall, Merkin Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Shanghai Grand Theatre, and Perlman Music Program, with broadcasts on internationally syndicated NPR programs and on Vietnamese and Chinese national television. Recent activities include performances with members of the Kansas City Symphony, New York Philharmonic, LA Philharmonic, Chiara quartet’s Hyeyung Yoon and Gregory Beaver, an album of works by women composers with oboist Celeste Johnson, recordings with euphonium/tuba player Chris Dickey, and the recording premiere of Jim Stephenson’s Sonata for Oboe and Piano (Fall 2023).

Upcoming projects include a staged version of Rome Prize winner Paul Rudy’s A Time of Ma’at for two pianos with choreography by Guggenheim Fellow Gary Abbott, highlighting the experience of mass incarceration.

Working closely and frequently with living composers, 88SQUARED, Karen’s piano duo with husband Jeffrey, has received critical praise from American Record Guide and Fanfare for recording premieres of two-piano works by Lowell Liebermann (Albany Records) and by Daniel Ott (Navonna/PARMA Records), albums that were led and produced by the composer. 88SQUARED has also commissioned and premiered works by Yotam Haber, Paul Rudy, and Heather Schmidt. The duo won the Ellis Duo Piano Competition, the Abild Prize in American Music, and second prize and special mention at Concours Grieg International Competition (Norway).

Karen leads UMKC Conservatory’s Kauffman Community Outreach Project, sending student fellows to perform chamber music in hospitals, hospice, senior homes, and other venues in Kansas City. She created the Conservatory’s new Collaborative Piano MM degree program, which welcomed its first class in Fall 2022.

Dr. Savage is in demand as a presenter, adjudicator, and guest teacher. Her students are active in the field as performers and teachers. Karen previously served on the faculty of Washington State University. Her performances, master classes, and presentations include those at Indiana University, Eastman School of Music, Musi-Quest National Piano Festival (India), Ho Chi Minh Conservatory (Vietnam), and Yong Siew Toh Conservatory (Singapore). Karen’s major teachers include Jonathan Feldman, Veda Kaplinsky, Margo Garrett, Sam Sanders, Robin and Winifred Wood and Edward Parker; additional studies were with Anne Epperson and Robert McDonald.