Ken Karsh began playing guitar at age 9 and has been deeply involved in music and music education ever since. He attended Berklee College of Music and earned his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in performance from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Over the past several years, Ken has performed live and on recordings with nationally and locally known musicians such as Jimmy McGriff, Barry Miles, Spider Rondinelli, Eric Kloss, Bobby McFerrin, Lee Konitz, Larry Elgart, Joe Negri, Joey DeFrancesco, “Papa John” DeFrancesco, Jack McDuff, Gene Ludwig, Bernadette Peters, Nathan Davis, Michael Gibbs and Angel Romero. One of Ken’s proudest moments is his participation as guitarist for the soundtrack for the documentary film In My Hands, which was directed by Ann Reinking with music composed by Jeffrey Saver.
As guitarist for a variety of Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera musical theater productions, Ken has performed in such well know productions as Legally Blonde, Swing, Les Misérables, Jesus Christ Superstar, Chess, Chicago, A Chorus Line, Parade (composed by Jason Robert Brown, who conducted), Fiddler on the Roof (performing on guitar and mandolin), In the Heights, Mamma Mia, Copacabana (composed by Barry Manilow), and The Lion King with the Gazelle Company at the Benedum Theatre in Pittsburgh, Pa. Ken has performed with such distinguished groups as the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and the Pittsburgh Opera Orchestra (performing on mandolin). In 1981, he was featured as the solo electric guitarist in the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Andre Previn’s Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra. Recently, Ken performed as a member of the orchestra for the TJL production of DooWop Generations, currently being aired on PBS.
Ken’s arrangements and etudes are featured in the Mel Bay and Warner Bros. publications Jazz Guitar Standards (2002), Jazz Guitar Standards: Chord Melody Solos and Mel Bay’s Guitar Journals: Jazz. He has authored two textbooks for guitar: Jazz Scale Workout (Mel Bay Publications) and the self-published Fingerboarding Made EZ: Scale & Arpeggio Visualization for Guitar. Ken has two CD releases of his own compositions and jazz standards: Ventana (featuring Max Leake; piano, Dwayne Dolphin; bass, and Roger Humphries; drums) and Conversations, both on Alanna Records. Ken has co-produced and is featured on organist James Witherite’s releases Modern Organ Trio and Please Do Not Clap on One and 3.
Ken is currently on the faculty at Slippery Rock University and California University of Pennsylvania. Ken plays Archtop guitars made by Tim Brockman (brockmanguitars.com).