WFIU’s featured artist for the month of December is Susann McDonald.
Susann McDonald received her first training on the harp in Chicago and New York. She moved to Paris at the age of 15 to study at the Conservatoire de Paris. At the age of 20, she became the first American to win the Première Prix de Harpe. Shortly thereafter, she also won the International Harp Competition in Israel, a competition to which she would return some years later as a judge.
McDonald has traveled as a performer to South America and Canada. Her performances have been broadcast all over Europe via radio and television.
After holding simultaneous positions as head of the harp departments at the University of Arizona and the University of Southern California, in 1975 McDonald became chair of the harp department at the Julliard School, a position she held for ten years. In 1981, she went on to chair of the harp department at the Indiana University School of Music, a position she still holds today.
McDonald founded the USA International Harp Competition in 1989 to help foster the careers and acknowledge the accomplishments of the world’s most talented young harpists. The competition takes place in Bloomington, Indiana every three years. It remains to this day the most prestigious harp competition in the United States, drawing competitors from around the world. The 2010 competition winners came from France (first-place winner Agnès Clément), Japan (second-prize winner Rino Kageyama), and Russia (third-prize winner Vasilia Lushchevskaya).
McDonald began her recording career in the early 1970s. She has recorded most of the major repertoire for harp, as well as music of twentieth-century composers like Miklós Rózsa.
WFIU will feature music performed by Susann McDonald throughout the month of December.