Meet The Performers

Chicago Symphony Orchestra - Strings - Viola

Karen Dirks


Karen Dirks was appointed in 1997 by Daniel Barenboim to the viola section of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The San Diego native is also a regular performer on the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Chamber Music series, often appearing with her daughter, pianist and oboist Jelena Dirks. Prior to joining the Chicago Symphony, Dirks simultaneously held the positions of concertmaster of the San Diego Opera Orchestra, principal viola of the San Diego Symphony and principal viola of the New Hampshire Festival Orchestra. A founding member of the Silvergate Chamber Ensemble and the Artist Chamber Ensemble, she has also performed in SummerFest (CA), the Sun River Music Festival (OR), Mainly Mozart Festival (CA), Marrowstone Music Festival (WA), at the Phillips Gallery (Washington, DC) and the Steamboat Strings Festival (CO). Dirks has appeared as soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Diego Symphony, La Jolla Chamber Orchestra, New Hampshire Music Festival, Marrowstone and Chicago’s Music of the Baroque Orchestra. She is currently an instructor in viola performance and orchestral repertoire at DePaul University. 

September 2012

This biography is based on information provided by the artist, ensemble or representatives thereof and may only be as current as the artist’s or ensemble’s most recent performance at Symphony Center.