Susanna Valleau began studying the piano at age 7 and, from the beginning, couldn’t resist sitting down to play every time she saw one. A few years later, the church organist told her she should take organ lessons because she was tall enough to reach the pedals, but she wasn’t interested — at least not then. Fast forward to age 17 when she first heard Widor’s famous Toccata
and was completely enthralled. This time the organ seemed to offer such limitless possibilities that she began taking lessons with Barbara Bruns, an internationally respected recitalist, accompanist, and conductor.
RCYO Winner’s Recital on the 1960 Aeolian-Skinner organ |
at Cathedral of the Rockies, Boise, ID
Susanna went on to earn her Bachelor of Music degree in Organ Performance at Lawrence University with Kathrine Handford in 2010, and her Masters of Music at the University of Washington with Carole Terry in 2012.
In 2011, Susanna won both the chapter and regional levels of the American Guild of Organists (AGO) Regional Competition for Young Organists (Region VIII). The following year, she performed as a “Rising Star” at the AGO National Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, a performance that The American Organist
said was “marked by strong, self-assured playing.”
International Organ Studies
Susanna has been fortunate to study and play organs all over Europe, first during a college semester abroad when she studied with Jacques van Oortmerssen at the Amsterdam Conservatory, and later on a work-study trip to Paris during graduate school. The many historic instruments she played include the renowned Dutch organs at St. Bavokerk in Haarlem, the Waalse Kerk in Amsterdam, and the Laurenskerk in Alkmaar. During her Paris trip, she had the opportunity to hear and play 20 French organs, ranging in age and style from Baroque-era organs built by members of the esteemed Clicquot family to the French Romantic organs of Aristide Cavaillé-Coll. Her firsthand experience with these instruments has helped deepen her understanding of music written for them.
Susanna has served as music director of St. Dunstan's Episcopal Church in Shoreline, WA since 2015. In addition to planning the music and playing organ and piano for St. Dunstan's services year-round, she directs and develops the musical skills of the adult choir. Susanna is an active performer and gives organ recitals nationwide. She is also on faculty with the Seattle Girls' Choir as the accompanist to their top group. Susanna maintains an active piano studio, and collaborates regularly as an accompanist and in chamber music settings on piano, harpsichord, and organ.