Karen Stephenson


No. 2 Cello

Karen Stephenson began playing the cello when she was six years old. She studied with Emma Ferrand and read Music at Trinity College, Cambridge before completing her studies at the Royal Academy of Music under David Strange.

Portrait of Karen Stephenson

A former Principal cello of the National and European Youth Orchestras, Karen left her position of Co-Principal cello with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to take up the position of No. 2 cello with the Philharmonia in September 2008. She is regularly in demand as a Guest Principal with orchestras including the Philharmonia, BBC Philharmonic, BBC Scottish Symphony and BBC Concert Orchestras, London Sinfonietta and the English Sinfonia.

In October 2008 she appeared as cello soloist with the Philharmonia Orchestra in Olivier Messiaen’s La Transfiguration.

Karen also enjoys an active career as a chamber musician, guesting with numerous ensembles including the Allegri Quartet, Chamber Domaine, Psappha, the Chamber Players and the RPO soloists, at the Wigmore and Cadogan Halls, Buxton Festival and the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester. She has broadcast as a soloist on BBC Radios 2 and 3 and has given many recitals and concerto performances.

Karen is widely involved in education; she is a tutor for Pro Corda and NYO, and a visiting professor and examiner at the Royal Academy of Music.

Karen lives near Woburn in Bedfordshire, on the very edge of the safari park, where she can hear the lions at night (when she’s not practising the cello!).

She has a son Jack, step-son William, step-daughter Shona, Luke and Leia the cats and four chickens. Recently she replaced her 1819 Thomas Kennedy cello with a modern instrument made by Marc Soubeyran of Ludlow.

The No. 2 Cello Chair is endowed by Jane and Julian Langer.

Endowment opportunities at the Philharmonia offer supporters unique access and insights to our players. Find out more here.

Watch a film featuring Karen Stephenson: