Music Compostion

Gentle Memories performance. Photo from

A native New Yorker, composer Karen LeFrak began playing the piano at age three.  She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Mt. Holyoke College and a Master’s degree in Musicology from Hunter Colleges. She has studied privately with Robert DeGaetano, Jonathan Anderson and Daniel Boico. 

Her works have been performed by leading groups and musicians and at prestigious venues in the United States, Europe, Russia and Asia. Past performances include Five Brass Pieces performed by the New York Philharmonic Principal Brass at Make Music New York and Five Pieces for Percussion performed by the New York University and Juilliard School Percussion Ensembles.  Commissioned by New York Philharmonic cellist Eileen Moon, Ms. LeFrak’s We’ll Never Say Goodbye was performed by New York Philharmonic Concertmaster Glenn Dicterow and New York Philharmonic Principal Horn Philip Myers at the Bethel Woods Chamber Music Series.  Her ballet score Cake was commissioned by the American Ballet Theatre and performed at the Joyce Theatre in New York, the Long Island Mozart Festival, and at the Guild Hall Center for the Visual and Performing Arts. Also commissioned by the American Ballet Theatre, her ballet score Pavlovsk has toured in the United States and Europe.  Ms. LeFrak’s ballet score Gentle Memories was performed at the Koch Theatre at Lincoln Center, and at the new Concert Hall of the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and her ballet Tous Les Jours was performed on the main stage of the Mariinsky Theatre, and at Moscow's Kremlin for the 250th anniversary of the Bolshoi Ballet School. Her children’s ballet score, Bark! In the Park, was commissioned and performed by the New York Theatre Ballet.  The orchestral score to Pavlovsk was premiered by the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra in April 2013. In September 2013, a number of orchestral, chamber and solo works from Ms. LeFrak’s catalog was recorded by the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic.  The Duet for Horn and Cello, a commission by the Young America Grand Prix, was performed at Lincoln Center's Koch Theatre in April 2014.  September 2014 saw the world premiere of her String Serenade at the opening of the new Shanghai Symphony Orchestra’s Chamber Music Hall. 3/4 Suite, a collection of piano miniatures was performed by Anne-Marie McDermott in 2014.  The Trio for Oboe, Horn and Piano was performed at the Warwick Music Series by New York Philharmonic Principal players Liang Wang and Philip Myers with pianist John Novacek , as well as at the Bethel Woods Chamber Music Series in October 2014, with pianist Joyce Yang. An orchestrated version of the Trio was also performed by Liang Wang and Philip Myers as a double concerto with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra in April 2013. The world premiere of A Bite of the Apple, Salute to New York, with the New York Philharmonic and with a special video presentation produced by New York City and Company, took place in January, 2015, at Avery Fisher Hall of Lincoln Center, and was followed by Should I Stay or Should I Go for Flute and String Quartet, performed at the Rhinebeck Chamber Music Society Concert Series with flutist Eugenia Zuckerman. Windy Sand, a ballet score for the Joffrey Ballet,  was  performed to a soldout house at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in March 2015, followed by a performance of Tous Les Jours for Russian Ballet Icons at the London Coliseum. Windy Sand  had its second and third performances, back to back, in April 2015 by the Young American Grand Prix, at the Koch Theatre at Lincoln Center, New York,followed by a performance at the Joffrey Gala in Chicago. The premiere of Hungarian Folk Song  took place in June 2015 at the Chelsea Music Festival of New York to great acclaim, and was followed by the premiere of Cat's Cradle, featuring the scoreThe Assembly with the New York Theatre Ballet, for Danspace Project, New York. A Bite of the Apple, Salute to New York, was performed July 9, 2015, while on tour with the New York Philharmonic, to celebrate the beginning of the Shanghai Orchestra Academy - a partnership of the New York Philharmonic, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra and the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. Hungarian Folksong, for clarinet, viola, and piano, received its premiere in June 2015 at the Chelsea Music Festival in New York.  The premiere of Gloriosa, a piano trio, with The Gloriosa Trio, took place on September 23, 2015, at the New Jersey City University.

Future performances include repeat performances of Gloriosa, a piano trio, with The Gloriosa Trio at the Ridotto Series at the Huntington Jewish Center, NY, at Get Classical Series at Zinc Bar in New York on January 11, 2016, and again at the Boulder Chamber Orchestra's Chamber Music Series on April 1 and 2, 2016. Piano solo works will be performed by Yoonie Han of the Gloriosa Trio at Symphony Space's new piano series on November 12. The Woodwind Quintet will be premiered in November 2015, and the Prelude for 8 celli will be premiered by the Sejong Soloists at a benefit concert at Alice Tully Hall on November 21, 2015. Duettino for violin and piano is scheduled to be performed at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in New York on November 22, 2015. In 2016, Gentle Memories will be performed by the San Francisco Ballet on January 21, Urban Tango  will be premiered on April  18 at the Cutting Edge Concerts New Music Festival at Symphony Space in New York , and the Ballet Pavlovsk will receive its world premiere on April 8 at the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The recent success of Windy Sands ballet in New York and Chicago, will take it to Portugal in 2017, with choreographer Alexei Kremnev of the Joffrey Ballet.

Ms. LeFrak has recently completed Festival, a one-movement cello concerto.

For more of Karen's scores and recordings: