||Born in Leiden, Holland,
raised in Calgary, Canada, Karel began his professional musical career
1970. He began his piano studies under Henry L. Peters, then jazz
piano with Ray Petch. In 1973, he studied jazz arranging and
composition at the
prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, and
completed a degree in secondary music and mathematics education at the
University of Victoria in 1981.
Karel still loves to play the piano and plays in clubs, concert halls
and in the studio whenever possible. He has led bands for Howie
Mandel, Rich Little (and his lesser known
brother Fred), Bob Newhart, Shari
Lewis (and Lambchop), and Ted Knight,
played with the Valdy, Moody
Blues, Powder Blues
Band, Jan Arden, The Shirelles,
and Leslie Gore, and opened for the Temptations
(with vocalist April Gislason) and solo for legendary
He writes jazz tunes for his own and other groups, and has played with
jazz greats such as Bud Shank, Ian MacDougall,
Pat LaBarbera, Don Clark,
Floyd Standifer, Roy
Reynolds and many well-known vocalists. He's regularly
asked to play at jazz festivals as both leader and sideman.
Karel has composed extensively for film, television and video
credits include a great
many themes and scores for documentaries, news, drama and children's
programs broadcast world-wide.
Karel's first solo album Keys, recorded in
1988 and distributed by Midsummer Music, has received wide critical
acclaim. An album of Christmas carols entitled Do
You Hear What I Hear? followed in 1991. Since then,
on the Midsummer label (internationally distributed by Tandem Music),
Karel has written, performed, and recorded four music and nature sounds
albums: solo piano albums Piano by the Sea
and Orca Suite, and orchestrations
Classics for Relaxation (with Mark
Bracken), and Wings of Summer. An
orchestral suite co-written with Kenneth G. Williams for the Butchart
Gardens was released in 1993 on the Holborne label.
Another piano solo CD, Thinking of You - Themes of
Friendship was released by Midsummer in 1996.
A jazz trio CD of original tunes entitled Cat Fud
was also completed early in 1996. Since then, Karel has completed two
solo piano concert albums, Blue/Green and
Suites and a jazz album, kr3+
featuring the trio with special guests Gary Karr, Dan
Lapp, and Paul Wainwright. His latest three
CDs, Nature Boy, Tea Favourites,
and Do You Hear What I Hear? are all solo
piano performances, recorded at the University of Victoria. For more on
the recordings, see the Discography page, and
for reviews, see the Press page. In 2011
he produced and played on Canadian folk legend Valdy's latest CD, Read Between the Lines, and this
year co-produced Maureen
Washington's Christmas Is.
In the field of children's music, Karel was musical director and
keyboardist on Babes, Beasts and Birds by Pat
Carfra (the Lullaby Lady), chosen by the Ladies' Home
as one of the six all-time best children's bedtime albums, keyboardist
and arranger on John Demers' My Backyard,
and George Dixon's series of children's musical
stories. He has just completed writing a series of music for
interactive toys made by Fisher Price.
Outside of his musical career, Karel has served three terms as
two terms as mayor in his home municipality, the District of Highlands, between
1993 and 2014. He continues to serve as councillor, has chaired the Greater Victoria Library Board and currently
chairs the CREST Finance Committee.
He is also a
board member of Metchosin International
Summer School for the Arts and founding board member of the Island Biodiesel Co-op.