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Karen Gardias







Dr. Karen Gardias came to Davis twenty-five ago following Dick Brunelle, the orchestra and choral conductor for Davis High School. Prior to her position at Davis High School in 1993, she began her music career as a professional harpist performing throughout the U.S.,and  directed orchestras in North Carolina, Texas, and Missouri. Gardias currently directs the Davis High School Jazz Choir, Advanced Treble Choir, and Madrigals, and teaches Essentials of Music and AP Music Theory.

Dr. Gardias is recognized as a prominent member of the music industry, and has received many prestigious awards such as the Harmony in our Lives Award, the Yolo County Striving for Excellence Award, and the Hal Reid Award for Excellence, Caring, and Leadership in Teaching. She was also selected as the News 10 Teacher of the Month for Northern California, was recognized in Who’s Who of America’s Teachers, and most recently received the Best Director Award at the Leonardo International Choral Competition in Florence, Italy. Gardias trained and mentored teachers in the Davis School District through the BTSA California Teacher Training Program, was nominated for the Grammy Teacher of the Year Award and received Yale University’s Distinguished Music Educator Award in 2007. The same year, Davis High School received the GRAMMY Foundation Signature School Award, which recognizes the top 22 public high schools across the country for outstanding commitment to music education.

Her years at Davis High have been exciting years of growth and development for Gardias and the students as they have traveled and performed in Australia, Austria, Rome, Ireland, Wales, Florence, and other countries throughout Europe. Gardias prepared the DHS Madrigal Choir to perform with Josh Groban on his 2003 nationwide tour, and in 2006, the Madrigals and ATC were the only high school choirs selected from the United States to compete against 40 countries in the International Eisteddfod Competition in Llangollen, Wales, winning 1st place in the world in the Chamber Choir division. She has worked with a significant number of leading musical artists from around the world, including Josh Groban (Singer, Songwriter, Actor, Producer), Deke Sharon (Music Producer, Sing-Off, Pitch Perfect 1, 2, 3), Pablo Colino (Canon and Choir Master of St. Peter’s Basilica), Fabio Avolio (Conductor, Schola Romana), Peter Phillips (Director, Tallis Scholars), Paul Phoenix (The King Singers), Simon Carrington (King Singers, Director, Yale University), Dr. Andre deQuadros (Director, Tanglewood and Boston U.), Dr. Eugene Sirotkine (Asst. Director NY Metropolitan Opera), Dr. Judith Clurman (Director, Juilliard), Amy Fogerson (L.A. Master Chorale), Dr. Matt Oltman (Director, Chanticleer), and Dr. Josh Habermann (Director Dallas Symphony Chorus), Her musical expertise includes working with prominent composers such as Eric Whitacre, Stephen Schwartz, Randall Stroope, Frank Ticheli, and Morten Lauridsen.

The Davis High School Madrigal Singers, under her direction, have become well-recognized throughout California and internationally. The last 25 years have been an exciting period of growth and development for Dr. Gardias and her students, and she appreciates this provided opportunity by the district for her to work with such talented students, supportive parents, and a welcoming community. The choirs travel around the world, and continue to create new friendships with professional musicians and strong advocates for the Arts. Dr. Gardias is very grateful for the love and support of her husband, John, and her children, Katharine and Christopher.


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