photo of Susanna

I've been a professional viol player for 25 years. My interest in early music began at a young age thanks to the enthusiasm of my parents and the pioneering work of David Munrow and The Early Music Consort of London in the 1970s. I struggled with the violin as a child until, in 1981, my then recorder teacher, Jane Ward, thrust a viol into my hands. I put my violin firmly back in its case, had my first lessons on the instrument with Gill Stevens and, in 1983, began a three- year degree course in music at the University of York with a clear vision of the career as a professional viol player I hoped for. During that period I was taught by Alison Crum who then, after my graduation, encouraged me to spend a year studying with Jordi Savall at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. At the same time I began playing professionally with the much respected viol consort The Rose Consort of Viols and with them gained valuable experience in performing the repertoire which has been central to my career.

In 1987 I moved to London and was invited to join an exciting and innovative new medieval ensemble The Dufay Collective of which I was a member for twenty years. With the Dufays I toured worldwide, including British Council sponsored visits to Egypt, Yemen, India and Brazil; recorded for Chandos Records; performed on film soundtracks, including Zeffirelli's Hamlet and Harry Potter The Prisoner of Azkaban; and taught for many years at the Dartington International Summer School.

My first concert with Fretwork was on 10th December 1988 and I became a full-time member of the consort three years later. With Fretwork my international performing career continues: Japan, Australia, South America, regular US tours, and frequent concerts in European venues, in the major London concert halls and in mainstream festivals in the UK. I've recorded many discs with them, first for Virgin Veritas and currently for Harmonia Mundi USA. Our recent recording of Henry Purcell's viol fantazias and In Nomines won a Gramophone award in 2009. The group now has a strong reputation for commissioning and performing new music and has collaborated with many composers, among them George Benjamin, Alexander Goehr, Gavin Bryars, Orlando Gough, John Woolrich, Barry Guy and Elvis Costello.

For many years I was also playing on a freelance basis with The Purcell Quartet, The King's Consort, The Taverner Consort, The New London Consort, The Parley of Instruments, Opera Restor'd, Phantasm and Charivari Agréable. With the latter I was happy to perform and record with the wonderful Gramophone Award winning viol player, Susanne Heinrich. I also appear, with my Fretwork colleague Richard Campbell, on Kate Bush's 2005 release Aerial.

In 1999 I married the American-born lutenist Jacob Heringman with whom I've been performing since 1988, initially with The Rose Consort of Viols and latterly with Virelai, a group specialising in early Renaissance music and also featuring William Lyons of The Dufay Collective and mezzo soprano Catherine King. In 2003 I joined Jacob as a student at the Alexander Technique Studio in Balham. We both completed a three-year course, are now members of the Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique and as such are qualified to teach the Technique. During my training our daughter, Edie, was born and I entered a challenging but very rewarding time as new mother, full-time student and professional musician.

We now live in the beautiful town of Richmond on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales and are happy to have made the move to the north of England. The lure of this wonderful place and its people, a desire to spend more time with my family and an increasing concern about the implications of climate change and an end to cheap oil have led to my recent decision to stop international touring. In Spring 2011 I, with great sadness, recorded my last disc with Fretwork (Richard Boothby's arrangement of Bach's Goldberg Variations for Harmonia Mundi USA) and ended a very happy and fulfilling twenty-three year relationship with them. 

My hope for the future is to have a UK-based performing and teaching career. I now teach viol at the University of York and plan once more to collaborate with Susanne Heinrich and lute player Lynda Sayce in the group Susanna Passeggiata and with Emma Murphy (recorder) and Steven Devine in Da Camera. I'm working hard to build up teaching and to find performance opportunities closer to home with Jacob in our duo, Pellingmans' Saraband, with The Herschel Trio, and with Jamie Savan and Faye Newton as The Northern Early Music Collective.  I'm lucky to have the opportunity to collaborate with an increasing number of fantastic northern-based musicians and we will see what the future holds.........