A proud native of Memphis, TN, Loki Karuna (formerly Garrett McQueen) has performed as a member of the South Arkansas Symphony, Jackson Symphony, American Youth Symphony, Memphis Repertory Orchestra, the Eroica Ensemble, and most recently, the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. He has also collaborated with ensembles including the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra, Memphis Symphony Orchestra, the Southeast Symphony, the Artosphere and Gateways Festival Orchestras, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Louisville Orchestra, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Loki has enjoyed giving solo recitals, performing with the Godiva Woodwind Quintet, USC Scholarship Quintet, and Cooper-Young Winds, presenting master classes, acting as a guest instructor for the Bahamas Music Conservatory and Idyllwild Arts Academy, adjudicating West Tennessee Band auditions, and teaching a studio of flutists/oboists/bassoonists consisting of middle school, high school, and undergraduate college students. Loki has performed in multiple Broadway Musicals in Memphis under the baton of David Spencer and keeps himself busy in other free-lance activities, including being featured in Indie Rock tracks produced by Goner Records (2009) and True Panther Sounds (2010). Loki has been heard as both a performer and guest host on APM's “Performance Today“, and was featured as the principal bassoonist on the Memphis Repertory Orchestra's inaugural CD of works by Dvorak and Tchaikovsky. He has also appeared on a wide array of television shows, including Oxygen's “Snapped: Killer Couples”, TV One's “Fatal Attraction”, and Fox's “Glee”.
Giving voice and offering space to music by Black and contemporary composers drives his passion for the art form, and continues to be his primary interest when it comes to playing the bassoon and advocating for “classical” music. In a performance the Concerto for Bassoon and Wind Ensemble by contemporary composer, Eric Ewazen, the composer noted Loki's “wonderful playing” and characterized Karuna as someone who “gives a great performance of [his] piece”. In 2012, Karuna's playing earned him the title of one of America’s “most interesting classical musicians” by conductor and author of “The Real Toscanini: Musicians Reveal the Maestro”, Cesare Civetta. Other notable performances from Loki include his 2013 premiere of the Sonata for Bassoon and Piano by Afro-American composer Kevin Cornelius, and his continued celebration of the bassoon and piano arrangement of “Three Songs” by the Dean of Afro-American composers, William Grant Still.
Today, Loki “performs” over the airwaves and on the digital stage, with content featured on the Public Radio Exchange (PRX) and local public radio stations across the country. Additionally, he's given music and racial equity presentations at the Gateways Music Festival, the Sphinx Organization‘s annual conference, the Kennedy Center's Shift Festival, and at countless schools, colleges, and universities, including Cornell University, the University of California Long Beach, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and the Manhattan School of Music. In 2017, Current named Karuna “a black talent in public media that you may not know, but should”, and in 2021 the New York Times noted his weekly podcast, TRILLOQUY, as a standout and one that is “required listening for industry leaders and listeners alike“. The show has featured Grammy, Emmy, and Pulitzer Prize Award-winning guests, and continues to be a vital part of the ecosystem of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the arts.
Loki holds a Bachelor of Music in Bassoon from the University of Memphis, where he studied with Lecolion Washington, and a Master of Music in Bassoon from the University of Southern California, where he studied with Judith Farmer. In addition to working as the Executive Producer and co-host of the TRILLOQUY podcast and owner of TRILLOQUY LLC, Loki works as an equity consultant, guest speaker, curator, and presenter at the intersection of race and “classical” music. He serves on the board of the American Composers Forum as the Equity Committee Chair, and is on the leadership teams of the Black Opera Alliance, the Gateways Music Festival, and the International Society for Black Musicians. Off the clock, Loki spends most of his free time with his friend and podcast co-host, Scott Blankenship, and his boyfriend, Dell.