Karen Stiles was born in Rochester, New York and began studying the violin at age 5. She received a Bachelor of Music degree from Oberlin College where she studied violin with Stephen Clapp and Gregory Fulkerson. She went on to earn a Master of Music degree at Indiana University and New England Conservatory where she studied violin with James Buswell and baroque violin with Stanley Ritchie. She toured throughout Europe and Scandinavia as a member of the New American Chamber Orchestra, an eleven-member string ensemble, performing at many of the major European music festivals including the Korsholm Music Festival in Finland and the Uppsala Festival in Sweden.
Karen was Principal Second Violin of the Knoxville Symphony and Chamber Orchestra for two seasons. She joined the San Antonio Symphony in 1991 and is currently Assistant Principal Second Violin. Karen has appeared as a soloist with the Knoxville Chamber Orchestra, the San Antonio Symphony and the Laredo Philharmonic. She was a member of the Sierra Grande String Quartet and a founding member of the Sierra Grande Chamber Music Festival in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. She has performed with several local chamber ensembles including the River City Consort, Olmos Ensemble, Soli Chamber Ensemble, and Camerata San Antonio.