Susie Self
mezzo soprano ~ composer

Susie Self studied as a singer, composer and conductor at the Royal College of Music where she gained an ARCM in singing performance. She later gained an MPhil in composition at Cambridge University. She won scholarships from the Royal Society of Arts to study in Germany and from The Banff Centre, Canada. Her composition professors include Stephen Dodgson, Edwin Roxburgh and Jeremy Thurlow, and she studied singing with Josephine Veasy. Her conducting mentor is David Parry and her composing mentor is Michael Finnissy.


Susie is now a full-time composer and conductor. Her sizeable portfolio includes four symphonies. Notable commissions include Songs of Immortality for the Ralph Vaughan Williams Trust, The Goddess in the Wood for James Gilchrist commissioned by the Tardebigge Festival, where she was composer in residence in 2013. Susie has composed for the Royal Opera Houseʼs Garden Venture. Her first two symphonies are recorded by The Moravian Philharmonic and her opera Heroic Women toured to Taiwan and Mexico with support from The British Council. Other commissions include Magnificat for The Arts Council, Parallel Universes and Sheela na Gig for Sounds Positive. Three years ago Susie composed a cabaret opera, The Boy from Brazil, commissioned by Tete-a-Tete Opera Festival at Riverside Studios, London. She conducted the performances and was interviewed on Woman’s Hour by Dame Jenni Murray. Her sacred cantata Magdalene was premiered in Norwich last Easter and The Cavendish Chorale commissioned her to compose Women’s Boat Songs. Susie recently finished a full length opera based on the novel The Butt by Will Self, which premiered in Vienna in September 2016. She recently completed a film score "The Killing Jar", for which she conducted the studio band. Her art songs were recently recorded on CD, featuring singers James Gilchrist and Alex Otterburn.


Known as Susannah Self in the opera world, her extensive career has included solo roles in the opera houses of Lyon, Luxembourg, Salzburg, Santiago (Chile), Opera du Rhin in Strasbourg and Vlaamse Opera in Antwerp and Ghent. She has also understudied for the Royal Opera House, Glyndebourne and Opera North. In 2004 she played Katisha in a season of The Mikado at the Savoy Theatre. Recently she performed the role of The Voice in John Tavener’s Mary of Egypt in Kings College Chapel, Cambridge.


Susie was until recently music director of The Cavendish Chorale at Cambridge University, and is currently conducting The Atsitsa Singers in London and The Staithe Singers in Norfolk. Operas she has conducted include Brittens The Turn of the Screw, Albert Herring and Puccini’s Suor Angelica. Her company Seastar Opera’s production of The Turn of the Screw at the Bromsgrove Festival received a 5-star review in The Birmingham Post. Last year the company performed Hello Mr Gershwin!, devised by Susie, at the Holt Festival, receiving a stunning review in the Eastern Daily Press.


Susie was until recently a visiting professor of voice, Musical Awareness and composition at The Junior Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She also teaches "voice empowerment" at holistic centres in California, Mexico and Greece. She was chosen to present her paper Why Art Matters at Oxford University last year. This June she presented Exploring Wagner’s Psychological Response to Grief and Death Through his Compositional Process in the Wesendonck Lieder and Tristan and Isolde at Durham University.


In September 2016 she started her full-time PhD studies at the Birmingham Conservatoire, for which she is writing a new opera Quilt Song and numerous ancilliary pieces. The opera will be premiered at the Birmingham Old Repertory Theatre on October 18, 2018, 100 years after the premiere of the play Abraham Lincoln, by John Drinkwater, upon which the opera is partially based.


To relax Susie composes crossover Folk-Celtic music: her duo with her composer/cellist husband Michael Christie, comprising voice, guitar and cello, is called "Seawolf & Christie". Susie loves to paint, sail and row, and she also appreciates good wine.

from 2nd Symphony
Memories, Dreams, Reflections
2nd mvmt, Adagio