Marking the 25th anniversary of her first formal piano lesson, alumna Susan McDaniel, class of ’97, will return Oct. 12 to perform a recital in Ice Auditorium. Joining her will be Jill Timmons, professor of music/artist-in-residence, who tau-ght McDaniel piano both in high school and college.
McDaniel said she possessed a love for piano at a young age. In her early teen years, she began taking formal piano lessons with Timmons.
“She has been a wonderful resource, and I couldn’t have had a better piano teacher,” McDaniel said.
After graduating high school as a National Merit Scholar, McDaniel had an opportunity to attend either Yale University or Linfield College; she chose Linfield.
“[I chose Linfield over Yale because] I had been working with Jill for about five years then, and she and I were a really good fit,” McDaniel said. “She’s a really good teacher, and it’s something I didn’t want to give up.”
As a liberal arts undergraduate college, Linfield provided her many musical opportunities to be involved in. Had she chosen to attend Yale, she would have been limited to taking lessons, she said.
After graduating from Linfield, McDaniel went on to graduate school at the Manhattan School of Music in New York, then crafted a successful career as a pianist, Timmons said.
“One of the highlights of my career was [recently] accompanying the Berlin Radio Choir on a tour throughout the U.S., where I got to see the country and use my German skills,” McDaniel, who minored in German and studied abroad in Freiburg, Germany, said.
Though McDaniel managed to have a successful career in professional music, she said some challenges lie ahead for students who are thinking about pursuing careers in music.
McDaniel said it’s difficult to make a living as a freelancer, especially now, because in trying to make sure the bills get paid, musicians still want to take on projects they care about rather than projects they perform for money.
Her success is attributable to her character, Timmons said.
She said McDaniel has a special quality of being not only gifted, but able to stay on course. Timmons added it’s not always easy to stay in the music profession, to find a career and to travel.
“I would say go for it, even if you don’t end up in exactly the situation you imagined, while you’re at Linfield,” McDaniel said. “The career in music gives you so many opportunities to do very interesting and unusual things you’d never think you would do.”
McDaniel will perform several solo pieces at her recital, including Slavonic dances by Antonin Dvorák and Hungarian dances by Johannes Brahms.
McDaniel and Timmons will also perform in a number of four-hand works on piano.