Photography: Ashby Mayes
Susanna Lee is a budding composer, songwriter, arranger, and clarinetist based in Bristol. Growing up in the city, she attended Colston’s Girls’ School after receiving a music scholarship in clarinet performance. Originally an aspiring singer-songwriter, Susanna moved to London in 2015 to study an undergraduate degree in Popular Music at Goldsmiths, University of London. After completing the first year, she rediscovered her passion for composing and transferred to the Music course at Goldsmiths to continue her studies. There she studied composition with Jeremy Peyton-Jones and later Roger Redgate, where she composed ’The Highwayman’ originally as a string quartet which was premiered by the Kreutzer Quartet in April 2018. After graduating from Goldsmiths in July 2018 with a First, Susanna spent her summer arranging the work for full orchestra and is beyond delighted that it received its world premiere by the Wyatt Sinfonia under Zoë Kundu in January 2019. In February 2020, Susanna returned to Bristol to begin a career in film and television composition.
Susanna first discovered her love for composing at the age of eleven whilst holidaying at the composer Philip Wilby’s windmill. Her first work for piano was written there, based on a melodic representation of the windmill’s sails and the experience of having lived inside. Susanna received her first commission to compose a Christmas carol for her school’s carol service in 2011. Using the words by Clement Clarke Moore, she composed 'The Night Before Christmas', premiered in Bristol’s Clifton Cathedral. The success of its debut performance led to commissions to compose for theatre, including the music to the lyrics of a missing song for a production of 'Fuenteovejuna' by Lope de Vega, and the entire soundtrack for the production of Annie Siddons’ version of Rapunzel, both performed in Bristol and receiving critical acclaim. During her teenage years, Susanna taught herself the guitar and became increasingly interested in songwriting. Whilst at school, she formed her first band which regularly performed covers of songs in concerts specially arranged by her. As a clarinetist, she first played with the Bristol Ensemble Training Orchestra and Bristol Schools' Philharmonia and now regularly performs with the Wyatt Sinfonia, East London Symphony Orchestra, and Watford Youth Sinfonia.