“Twenty-first century music enthusiasts won’t want to miss this one!” wrote Fanfare Magazine of Susan Kander’s second full-length CD, Hermestänze, released on MSR Classics in Spring 2017. “Kander…proves herself to be a composer of vivid imagination and skill.” The San Francisco Chronicle wrote: “…lovely and evanescent – most of the songs (in A Garden’s Time Piece) take no longer than a minute and leave you at once satisfied and waiting for more”. Gramophone magazine hailed Solo Sonata for violin-viola-violin as “eloquent, impersonal and...wrenchingly powerful."
The music of Susan Kander has been heard throughout the United States and in cities around the world, including London, Paris, Mexico City, Lima, Birmingham, Vancouver, Cape Town, St. Petersburg and Guangzhou. Kander has received numerous commissions from notable ensembles and organizations, including the National Symphony Orchestra, Southampton Chamber Music Festival, the Copland Fund, the Kansas City Chorale, the Columbia Foundation, and a variety of instrumentalists and ensembles.
In the opera world, she has received commissions from Opera Minnesota, Opera Theater of St. Louis, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and Columbus Opera. Her chamber opera The News from Poems was given a concert reading in April 2016 at the National Opera Center featuring Keith Phares, Katherine Pracht, and John Taylor Ward. In 2012, Minnesota Opera and Lyric Opera of Kansas City co-commissioned an adaptation of the seminal dystopian novel The Giver by Lois Lowry; the 85-minute chamber opera received its third production in January 2015 at Tulsa Opera. Knight Arts, St. Paul, called it a “remarkable new work…. Her instrumental scoring is atmospheric and unobtrusive…but the vocals take priority… This adaptation is a sophisticated and subtle work, in terms of both music and story.” A chamber orchestration for She Never Lost a Passenger, about Harriet Tubman and black abolitionist William Still (1996) was commissioned by Erie Opera Company in 2015, and premiered by Lyric Opera of Kansas City in 2016.
Miranda’s Waltz for narrator and orchestra, commissioned/premiered in 2009 by the National Symphony Orchestra, was programmed and live-streamed around the world in May 2017 from Melbourne by the Australian Discovery Orchestra. Regarding her 2009 solo bassoon commission The Lunch Counter, Fanfare Magazine wrote: “Kander’s Lunch Counter alone is so fascinating that it is worth the price of the recording.” Her 2013 work Hermestänze, for violin and piano, commissioned by Jacob Ashworth, violinist and Artistic Director of the ensemble Cantata Profana (also her son), is a rare example of a large-scale dramatic cycle written for the violin. It is the title work on the eponymous CD which features Ashworth and members of Cantata Profana performing three of Kander's violin-centric works. She is especially proud to have had her Solo Sonata for violin-viola-violin (included on the MSR release) performed in the Composers’ Forum in St. Petersburg, Russia, by commissioner Yuval Waldman during their White Nights festival.
Kander received her B.A. in Music at Harvard in 1979 and was a playwright until “coming home to music” in the mid-1990’s. In 2015, after composing busily for twenty-years, she decided to blow things up by finally attending graduate school in composition. She studied with Du Yun and Huang Ruo at Purchase Conservatory, re-arranging the furniture in her mind and earning her M.M. in Composition in 2017. Those two years produced a bouquet of new works for both orchestra and chamber ensemble. Her works can be found on Soundcloud and Youtube. She is a Fellow of the MacDowell Colony. Her music has been recorded on the MSR, Navona and Loose Cans labels. www.susankander.net