An award-winning and internationally-performed composer of innovative tonalities, Susanna Payne-Passmore creates music that balances raw power with a playful lyricism. Susanna’s style incorporates both intuitive expansion of common practice tonality and experimental tonal constructs.
Susanna Payne-Passmore is an award-winning and internationally-performed composer living, working, and studying in Eugene, OR. As a composer of unusual sonorities and experimental tonalities, Susanna seeks to inspire curiosity of what lies just on the other side of expectation. Paired with an evocative personal harmonic language, her compositions awaken listeners to unexamined subjective depths that wait within.
Susanna completed a self-designed Music Composition BA at the New College of Florida and wrote a thesis on music and meaning that engaged multiple modalities to explore how intangible oscillations become moving works of art, and she continues to engage this enigma with every new work. After graduating, Susanna traveled the Republic of Georgia as a Fulbright recipient, teaching English and studying one of the oldest known traditions of vocal polyphony. Her experience culminated in an original composition premiered at the Batumi Contemporary Classical Music Festival. Upon her return, she won the Mary Bussman Emerging Female Composer award for her choral composition "Shine" and was awarded a place in the Walden Creative Musicians Retreat 2014 and 2015. In May of 2015, she was selected to participate as a composer at Troublesome Gap with the dynamic Archaea Tree Ensemble. During these post-undergrad years, Susann has enjoyed master classes with well-established composers like Randall Woolf, Eve Beglarian, Robert Paterson, and Martin Bresnick.
In 2016, Susanna accepted a Graduate Fellowship at the University of Oregon to further develop her intuitive harmonic language and to mount her first large-scale work, Captain: a chamber opera. She also founded the Composers of Oregon Chamber Orchestra and directed it’s first concert premiering 6 new student orchestral compositions. Recent harmoinc explorations from this period include: a nonatonic recursive modality; a multi-octave, modally-rotating scale; a “piano clef” system of notation for inside the piano works, and a bi-triadic hexachord articulated through non-linear planing.
Susanna grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, steeped in Quaker culture. As a child, she often heard performances by the Philadelphia Orchestra and studied piano, which led to her first short compositions in grade school. But it wasn't until hearing a radio broadcast of Jennifer Higdon's blue cathedral in 2002 that she could imagine a musical language to express herself with and communicate with diverse listeners. This introduction to contemporary classical music sparked a powerful interest in writing music rooted firmly in the present, looking beyond the styles of past musical triumphs for new, unexplored sonic realms.
In her spare time she enjoys sipping fine tea, playing with cats, devouring books, and plotting novels she will probably never write. You can contact her about composition lessons, commissions, or just about anything at firstname.lastname@example.org or on facebook at facebook.com/susanna.paynepassmore.