Susan Alexander, pianist, got hooked on collaborative music making in the pit of her high school’s production of Anything Goes. She has played chamber music in numerous forms around the DC area, and continues to refine her pianism under Taubman method master, John Wickelgren. A shared interest in enabling people to keep playing together during the pandemic led Susan to join the ACMP board of directors in September 2021.
After Anything Goes, Susan went on to not major in music at Yale. She did some more musicals, the pinnacle of which was probably musical direction for Sondheim's Company ("look, Mommy, there's a lady conductor!"), and composed incidental music for The Glass Menagerie. After graduation, she moved to DC where her interest in ancient, unreadable languages led to a career as a cryptanalyst and later, as a senior executive in the Intelligence Community. There was no longer time for the grueling life of the rehearsal pianist, and when a colleague invited her to form a piano trio, she found chamber music was an even better medium than the theater through which to channel her love of musical collaboration.
Although Susan had been a member of ACMP since 1998, it was the pandemic that finally brought her to the Board. Socially-distancing on her own, she was fortunate to fall in with some technologically-savvy musicians who had figured out how to play together online in real time. Now instead of feeling alone and isolated, she found her dance card had never been so full. Grateful for the lifeline that had brought renewed meaning to her world during this bleak period, when the opportunity arose to partner with ACMP to bring similar opportunities to more people she jumped at the chance. And though people are playing in person again now, the mission for ACMP that became so clear to her during the pandemic remains, that is, to create a welcoming community that transcends physical distance and gives as many people as possible the chance to connect with others and develop as chamber musicians.
When Susan was pregnant with her first gender-as-yet-unknown child and people asked her “what she was hoping for,” she would always foil them by answering “a violinist!” That jest contained a lot of truth however, for chamber music turned out to be second only to her children (neither of whom, alas, took up a string instrument), in enriching her life. It’s given her an ever-widening circle of more-than-acquaintances, the chance to inhabit and internalize a vast amount of great music, an entrée into new cultures, and the deep spiritual connections that arise only from long collaborations. Most importantly of all, it’s given her a reason to keep growing, inspiring a lifelong journey to become the pianist, and the person she is today.