Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Susan Landale had her first organ lessons at St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in her native city. After graduating (B.Mus) at Edinburgh University, she continued her studies with André Marchal in Paris, and France has since become her adoptive country.
Her studies were crowned by a First Prize at the St Albans International Organ Competition, England, and since then she has firmly established a worldwide reputation as an artist of the organ, through her concerts as soloist, as a chamber musician and with orchestra.
Her recordings have been hailed by the French and international press, and have received the highest awards: Messiaen “Livre du Saint Sacrement” (Diapason d’Or), Tournemire “Cinq Improvisations and Office de l’Assomption” with the Gregorian Ensemble Magnus Liber (“10” de Repertoire), Franck “Complete works for grand orgue” (“Choc” du Monde de la Musique), Mendelssohn, “Six Sonatas for organ” (Diapason d’Or).
Particularly esteemed as a teacher and holder of the French diploma “CA d’orgue”, Susan Landale is currently Professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London, after many years at the national Regional Conservatoire of Rueil-Malmaison (Île de France). Her students have won numerous national and international prizes.
As well as her concerts and recordings, she is in constant demand for master classes and lectures, and as a juror for international organ competitions: Chartres, St Albans, Calgary, Prague, Odense, Opava, Lyon and Montreal.
Her studies of contemporary organ music, especially of the works of Olivier Messiaen and Petr Eben, have appeared on three continents and been translated into several languages. Her interpretation of the most significant works of these composers is considered to be particularly authentic.
She is a member of the artistic committee of the international competition "Grand Prix de Chartres", of the former consultative commission of the Direction de la Mémoire, du Patrimoine et des Archives at the Ministry of Defense and of the former "Commission des orgues non-protégés au titre des monuments historiques. In recognition of her work for ten years as a member of the Organ Commission of the diocese of Paris, the Cardinal André Vingt-Trois awarded her the medal of Diocesan Merit.
She is also Honorary President of the Edinburgh Society of Organists and President of the Académie André Marchal and was President of the Académie André Marchal until 2012, when she handed over the presidency to François Sabatier while remaining Artistic Director.
The role of liturgical organist has always been a priority for Susan Landale. After 18 years as organist and choir director of St George’s Anglican church Paris, she is today “organiste co-titulaire” of St Louis des Invalides, the cathedral of the French Armed Forces, where she accompanies both regular Sunday masses and great national ceremonies.
In recognition of her international career and her lifelong commitment to the cause of the organ, the Royal College of Organists awarded her, in 2003 the distinction of Fellow honoris causa and, in 2009, the Royal Academy of Music that of Associate of the Royal Academy of Music.
Conservatoire de Rueil-Malmaison, © Gérard Percicot
avec Jean Langlais, Paris
USA, en tournée avec André Marchal
Création anglaise de “Faust” de Petr Eben (avril 1982)
Concert à la Philharmonie de Prague
Dans l'appartement parisien de Susan Landale
Allemagne, tournée en Schleswig-Holstein
Concert des 50 ans de l'orgue des Invalides
Who said the word “organist”?
She reads the sporting magazines (the students are a wee bit shocked), loves dogs, horses (rode in horse trials), tennis (was captain of her school team), hockey (played for her university), snorkelling, scuba diving (Padi: Advanced Open Water Diver).
She likes cooking: Scottish recipes of course, but also, French, Moroccan, Italian and Indian.
She loves choral singing, chamber music, ballet, opera and orchestral concerts…
To relax, she chooses the theatre, the cinema, and sport on television (tennis, equitation, figer skating and ski)
On holiday: museums, historical monuments, swimming and beaches...
And the organ in all this?
Perhaps no worse for being part of an active and well-balanced existence!