|Karen Braunstein began studying piano at the age of nine. She went on to study voice with Grace Buckley at age thirteen and continued musical, piano and vocal studies at the Manhattan School of Music Preparatory Division. Karen gained choral experience at the Usdan Center for the Arts on Long Island, which she attended for six summers. She studied at Jacksonville University, performing with the Dolphinaires in appearances throughout Northern Florida and having the honor of singing with Bob Hope at a benefit concert. She was very involved in the choral and opera department, performing several roles, including Barbarina and Cherubino in Mozart's A Marriage of Figaro and the title role in “Captain Lovelock”. Karen received her Bachelor of Music degree in Voice from New England Conservatory in 1981. During her years at N.E.C., she focused on French Chanson, German Lieder and Contemporary song, and performed numerous times as part of the Conservatory Choir and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of such esteemed conductors as Seiji Ozawa, Claudio Abbado and Robert Shaw. After graduation, Karen became a member of an opera workshop program in Newton, Mass. She was the vocalist and a founding member of the Shirim Klezmer Orchestra, which toured throughout the Northeast and performed at many celebrations, concerts and folk festivals.
Karen returned to New York to continue her studies, all the while performing Yiddish and Klezmer music. In 1988, Karen was invested as a Cantor and earned her Master's in Sacred Music from Hebrew Union College in New York City. She has been working as a cantor since 1986, in synagogues in New York, Philadelphia, Texas and Florida. As a cantor, she has enjoyed teaching music, performing, leading services, directing and producing Broadway musical revues and musical theatre performances and conducting choirs. Karen has been teaching voice, coaching singers and teaching beginning piano since 1982. While living and working in the Philadelphia area, she started Klezmechaye!, another Klezmer band, managing and singing with the group. She spent the summer of 2009 teaching voice, coaching campers in the Musical Theatre Department and directing Vocal Ensembles at the French Woods Festival Camp for the Performing Arts in Hancock, New York.