Born in Brisbane Australia, Sue started learning piano at the age of 6. A year later she had major spinal surgery and with a long road to recovery, music became an important and integral part of her recovery and a life long passion.
When I discovered music, the world around me changed forever – suddenly I had a way to communicate what was within me - I could explore feelings and ideas in ways that seemed absolutely magical to me. I could take the pain I was experiencing and channel it and transform it through music into something really beautiful. As I grew older I couldn't imagine not having music as a major part of my life so I decided to peruse a career in music.
By 12 Sue was consolidating her piano studies and also learning classical guitar, violin and later cello.
Each instrument I studied was so unique -I loved moving from one to the other – all of those different tones and unique sounds inspired me to consider how combinations of harmonies and instruments went together - that's when I began improvising and exploring music beyond the formal structures of classical music.
After school Sue entered the Queensland Conservatorium of Music majoring in classical piano as well as general instrumental studies and composition. After graduating in 1987, she moved to Japan where she lived for 7 years and had 2 children. Her early experimental works from this time clearly reflect the influence of Japanese culture. Her compositions incorporated minimalism, modal tonalities and ambient soundscapes.
Through ambient music I began to relate in a totally new way not only to music, but to sound itself and the space it resonates in - this was so different from the traditional classical study I had undertaken and it influenced my compositions and playing style heavily at this time.
Sue's musical language has also been influenced by world music, jazz, experimental, sound-scapes, and modern music. Themes found in many of her works are of regeneration, renewal and growth through transformation. Composers who have influenced her music include Brian Eno, Steve Reich, Phillip Glass, Keith Jarrett, Ravel, Debussy, Bach and Esbjorn Svensson Trio, Brad Mehldau, Avishi Coen, Shai Maestro, Henryk Górecki, Arvo Part and many others. The diversity of these influences has helped her to create music that she doesn't readily classify into any specific genre.
I feel at home with many kinds of music but I also love to let the music speak in its own language and stand on its own terms. I experiment with sounds and atmospheres to create colors, textures and vibrations which always evoke different responses from the listener - everyone's interpretation is unique and I like that.
Sue has composed music for short films such as The Violin 2013, Site 281 -Trailer, The Suicide Projects 2011 and multimedia projects such as Broken [Harmony House 2002]. I am passionate about working with film – the richness of image and the power of music together is something that really inspires me - it is an area I am constantly evolving in.
Aside from film work, Sue has also created a series of compositions for novice to advances players in various ensembles including String, Guitar and Marimba. This series of graded compositions aims to create the foundations of group interaction and playing. The pieces focus on various aspects of ensemble performance whilst simultaneously honing the individual technique of each player. More detailed information on each series can be found here Ensemble music
In 1993 Sue returned from Japan to Australia settling on the Sunshine Coast where she now works as a composer, instrumental music teacher and performer. Her passion for exploring new instruments has never ceased and today Sue plays instruments as diverse as the Hang, Handpans, Kalimba and Drone Flute alongside the piano, cello, guitar and violin.
In 2002, Sue discovered the Hang. Although she had always performed music, it was this new instrument that reignited a passion for sharing music live and exploring sound-scapes in ways she had not expected.
There is such intimacy when playing the Hang – it draws me in and I just love to improvise and allow the music to flow. It's a similar thing with the handpans as well - are all very different from one another but each allow me to express and share music in very simple but deep and meaningful way.
Because of this intimacy, Sue has concentrated her performance on the Hang and Handpans to small group settings. She has also composed various works for Hang and Hangpan which can be found here
Alongside her composing career, Sue has been engaged in teaching music privately and in schools.
As a teacher I have a constant connection with people from all walks of life and in all stages of their life. I love being able to connect with them and find the common threads we all share. Through teaching I am able to celebrate the growth and insight that students experience – it is a beautiful job and an honor to work with individuals in this way.
Her full teaching philosophy is outlined here
Most recently Sue has been interested in connecting music with other art forms particularly movement and improvised dance as well as exploring its potential within expressive art therapies and general creative projects. She is keen in bringing live performances to hospitals and other institutions where people unable to attend regular concerts can experience something unique and beautiful.