Karen Stephenson


No. 2 Cello

Karen Stephenson started playing the cello at the age of six, having played the piano since she was three years old. She wanted to play the French Horn, but apparently there was only a cello available at the North Staffordshire Music Service at the time – and the rest is history!

Portrait of Karen Stephenson

After a stint reading Music at Trinity College, University of Cambridge, Karen eventually studied with David Strange at the Royal Academy of Music in London, enjoying Principal positions in the National and European Youth Orchestras. She joined the Philharmonia in 2008 after jobs in the BBC Philharmonic and Concert Orchestras and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Karen says of the Orchestra, “I love the Philharmonia! It’s so exciting being part of such a rich tradition of lush string playing and also to share the stage with a huge chamber group of amazing individual players”.

Karen is regularly invited to play Principal Cello with other orchestras from the London Symphony Orchestra to the Oslo Philharmonic. She is a passionate chamber musician and also enjoys recording video game tracks and film and TV scores such as Harry Potter and Call the Midwife.

Karen teaches cello and piano at all levels and has coached players at the Royal Academy of Music, Pro Corda, the National Youth Orchestra and the National Schools Symphony Orchestra. Her current cello was made by Marc Soubeyran of Ludlow in 2017.

Outside of the Philharmonia, Karen loves walking in the Bedfordshire countryside and finishing up in a nice warm pub! She enjoys playing chess online and is besotted with her beloved cats and chickens.

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: