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Susannah Self

Susannah Self

Susannah Self trained in composition, singing and conducting at The Royal College of Music (ARCM singing) and Cambridge University (MPhil composition). She won scholarships from The Royal Society of Arts to study roles in Strauss operas in Germany and at The Banff Centre in Canada to study Music Theatre with John Cage. As well as being a composer she has had a successful career as a mezzo soprano in major operas houses. She is currently reading for a PhD in composition at The Royal Birmingham Conservatoire with a STEAM scholarship. Her supervisors are: Dr Joe Cutler, Dr Elizabeth Kelly, Howard Skempton, Errollyn Wallen MBE, Dr Andrew Toovey, Richard Ayres, Dr Jeremy Thurlow, Richard Causton and Michael Finnissy. In 2016 Susannah conducted the premiere of her MPhil opera The Butt (based on her cousin Will Self’s novel) in Vienna at the Musiktheatertage Festival. In October 2018 she conducted the premiere of her PhD opera Quilt Song sourced from John Drinkwater’s play Abraham Lincoln at The Old Birmingham Rep. Both works included installations of soundscapes, video and materials.

10 minutes of Extracts of Quilt Song composed by Susie Self.

15 minutes of Extracts of The Butt composed by Susie Self.

Susannah has also composed 4 symphonies (2 recorded by The Moravian Philharmonic) and 3 more operas. In 2017 The Birmingham Opera Company commissioned and performed her Scena Freedom Bridge extracts of which were published in Women and Music, Volume 22, University of Nebraska Press. She has also been commissioned to compose numerous chambers works. In 2018 SLAP was performed by The Birmingham Contemporary Music Group at the Birmingham Conservatoire.

Susannah conducted her opera The Boy from Brazil at the Tête-à- Tête Festival in London in 2012 and for The Royal Opera House, Garden Venture she created a one-woman opera Heroic Women, which she subsequently toured to Taiwan, USA, Belgium and Spain. She has also composed numerous song cycles with commissions from The Arts Council, RV Williams Trust, Music Societies and Festivals. James Gilchrist sings The Goddess in The Wood.

"Musically The Butt’s organic liquid vocal lines remind me of Britten. Composer Susannah Self conducted the performance with meticulousness.

- Dominik Troger 2016

As a mezzo Susannah has sung roles under distinguished conductors such as Ivor Bolton and Mark Wigglesworth. She sang Ma Moss in The Tender Land for Lyon Opera eight years ago and has also made regular solo appearances with Opéra du Rhin, De Vlaamse Opera and Salzburg Landestheater. Roles include: Baba the Turk, Madame de la Haltière, Mrs Grose and Mistress Quickly. Recent guest appearances include Luxembourg, Lisbon, Seville, and Santiago opera houses. She has also covered many roles for The Royal Opera, Opera North and Glyndebourne.

Madame de la Haltière is presented distinctively and with extreme self-confidence by Susannah Self. Her voice is exactly right for the characterisation of this role

- Opéra du Rhin: Mittelbadische Presse, Kehler Zeitung

Susannah Self is a British singer who also sings Mistress Quickly in Salzburg, her Mrs. Grose is as good as any I have heard

- Hugh Canning, Opera Magazine

In 2015 Susannah became a full time composer and at this time she also began to conduct standard operatic repertoire such as Suor Angelica, Gianni Schicchi, Cosí fan tutte, Die Zauberflöte, Carmen, Albert Herring and The Turn of the Screw. Her conducting mentor is David Parry.

Alongside her composing/performing career Susannah has run her opera company Selfmade Music for over twenty years. The company has won 6 Arts Council grants to commission composers David Bedford, Avril Anderson, Priti Paintal, Steve McNeff and Peter Wiegold.

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Susannah Self
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