Infused with lightness and joy, Susan Conant’s music is a blend of Celtic and ethnic inspired melody with classical and jazz harmony. As a composer, performer and teacher on classical and traditional flutes, Conant’s programs include her own original chamber music, Celtic and world music, classical music and musical stories. For Conant, now located in Charleston, SC, but previously from the Chicago area, chamber music is both a performance genre that allows her to communicate a deeply personal musical expression and a teaching tool that engages musicians of all ages and abilities in the life-long practice of music.
Conant’s most recent activities include performing her own compositions and musical stories including performances at the 2009 Piccolo Spoleto’s Bishop Gadsden and Children’s concerts and as the featured artist for the Chicago Chamber Choir’s 2008 spring series. She also just finished arranging and directing her sixth Annual Celebration of Music at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Geneva (UUSG) and will share her “Celebration of a Day” program with the Unitarian Church in Charleston in August 2009. These multi-generational programs are a compilation of instrumental and vocal selections, stories and readings woven together to articulate a spiritual theme.
Conant served a one of the music directors and Youth Choir Director at UUSG where her goal was to create an alternative path to worship that enriched the congregation’s sense of community. As such, she directed and performed with an assortment of ad-hoc ensembles made up of musicians of all ages and abilities.
Composing is an important new direction for Conant. In early 2007, she released her debut CD, A New Leaf, consisting of original chamber works for flute and other instruments. Combining bits and pieces from an eclectic musical background, her evocative music and expressive flute playing paints a lush landscape of moods from contemplative to joyful.
Here are some comments about Conant's music on the recording A New Leaf: "a wonderful collection", "Highly inspiring ... earthy. The music is very soothing and deep. I strongly recommend it.", “pure joy", “expressive, fun, convincing, deserves to be more widely known...performances and recorded sound were very good".
Finally Conant enjoys playing all kinds of folk music. She is a member of Musaica, a Chicago based Latin band that specializes in Columbian folk and Brazilian Choro music. She plays regularly for Scottish Country dancing with O're the Border, a Midwest based Scottish band of fiddle, flute and keyboard.
Susan was first enchanted by folk music as a young child. Her grandmother (Lily Conant) was a long-time steward of Pinewoods, a folk dance and folk music camp for adults and families in Plymouth, MA. Susan spent her summers there playing early music on the recorder and learning traditional dance and music from the British Isles and North America. This experience showed her how to use music making, storytelling and movement to engage a multi-aged audience. Conant’s love of chamber music formed when as a teen, she participated in a youth chamber music class led by Connie Sattler at the Hartt School of Music. Sattler’s model of coaching and communicating the love of music through intense study of chamber music continues to provide inspiration. Susan studied flute and recorder with Susan Zimmerman at the Hartford Conservatory and flute with Trix Kout at Longy School of Music She went on to the New England Conservatory of Music where she was a flute performance major studying under Claude Monteux.
Jacqueline Schwab, featured on "Celtic Suite", is well-known for her improvisational piano playing. She has recorded three solo CDs and performs on over forty other albums including the soundtrack for Ken Burns' “Civil War” documentary. Her playing has been described as "gorgeously spare" (The Boston Globe) yet "sounds as if she has an orchestra at her fingertips" (Sing Out). Jacqueline's style fits somewhere between folk traditional, classical and new age. Although improvisation is often connected with jazz, Jacqueline derives inspiration from traditional and classical music.
Lynn McCanne's expressive piano playing can be heard on "Duet", "Fantasy", "The Tide", and "Lord Balgonie's Medley". Lynn performs locally in the western suburbs of Chicago, provides piano music at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Geneva, IL and is a member of a number of vocal ensembles.
Cynthia Spiegel is an accomplished free-lance soprano and can be heard in many Chicago are churches. She is member of Bella Voce and St Charles Singers. Cynthia performed as soloist in their 2006 tour of France.
Conor Mackey ("Dialogue" and "Sassafras Reel") is a very talented young musician who studies composition at Northern Illinois University. He is equally accomplished on both classical bassoon and electric guitar and moves easily between an eclectic array of musical styles from classical to jazz and funk. A member of the band "Loose Lips Sink Ships" Conor can be heard touring throughout the midwest.
Wendy Evans-Glazier, violinist, ("Lord Balgonie’s Medley" and "Bonnie at Morn") holds a Bachelor of Music degree in performance from Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, and a Master of Music degree and Performance Certificate from Northwestern University. She has held positions with the Omaha Symphony, Florida Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic and the Elgin Symphony. She also performs with the Chicago Philharmonic, Ravinia Festival Orchestra, Grant Park Symphony, Chicago Opera Theater, and the Rockford Symphony.
As a member of the Telos String Quartet, she performed numerous recitals in the Midwestern states and in Italy. She has recorded with Mannheim Steamroller and John Denver, and performed with such popular artists as Josh Grobin, Patti LaBelle, Vince Gill and Ray Charles.
Larry Glazier, cellist, ("Lord Balgonie’s Medley" and "Bonnie at Morn") has held positions with the Hong Kong Philharmonic and the Elgin Symphony. He also performs with the Grant Park Symphony, Chicago Lyric Opera, and the Rockford Symphony.