Susan joined the PCM faculty in September 2001, right when we moved into our permanent home at 100 North Hill. For twenty-one amazing years we were able to enjoy what everyone already knew about Susan. She was a formidable pianist, an extraordinary teacher, and a fierce and passionate champion of our art, especially new music. She served stints as chair of the piano and chamber music departments and set a high bar for us all.
Among many of her memorable performances for PCM…
Nataraja for prepared piano, by her husband Rick Lesemann, in the gallery of South Asian Art at the Norton Simon Museum.
Her signature work, The Concord Sonata (Emerson, Hawthorne, the Alcotts, Thoreau) by Charles Ives, in a barn on the Arroyo.
And, Prelude in C Major, from Bach’s WTC Book 1, on the stroke of noon outside the Conservatory as the piece was played simultaneously throughout the city for Play Me I’m Yours, a festival presented by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.
Among countless notable moments from Susan’s students over the years, a few recent examples…
Assigning the entire book of Bach’s Two-Part Inventions across her studio for our yearlong focus on Bach. The pandemic prevented a live performance, but not recording the entire set in various homes throughout the area.
Launching ensemblePROVA, a new music group for adventurous students, with fellow teacher, Nic Gerpe. Their debut was interrupted by the pandemic, but presented virtually.
How telling, that as we mourn Susan’s passing, we have hired two of her former PCM students, Erica Lee and Katelyn Vahala, to join the piano department.
And what turned out to be Susan’s parting gift…
Thank you for your extraordinary contributions to our school, Susan. You left some big shoes to fill.