About Susanna

An astonishing memory for tunes and lyrics

Susanna McCleary is a violinist and vocalist. She was born in London, England with Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis, an inherited type of blindness,. She was  was later diagnosed as high-functioning autistic.  This combination makes her a truly unique musician, with an astonishing memory for tunes and lyrics.

 

While in the UK, she attended both special and mainstream schools, including the Royal National College for the Blind in Hereford, England. After moving to Canada in 2006, she graduated with a music diploma from Mohawk College and a B.Mus from McMaster University, specializing in classical violin.

 

She came to realize that a career playing traditional fiddle music learned by ear was far more suitable for a blind person than a career in classical art music and has since studied many traditional styles with artists in Canada and abroad. 

 

Now a resident of Hamilton, she plays in various sessions there, and is also a regular soloist at St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church, with music director Norman Reintamm. Until the pandemic, she was also a regular ensemble player for the Toronto English Country Dancers and Danceweavers. In October 2019 she opened for pianist Michael Arnowitt in a fundraiser for Balance for Blind Adults, at the Al Green Theatre in Toronto.

 

During the pandemic, she performed a virtual concert of traditional fiddle music for the Canadian Council for the Blind, Toronto Visionaries Chapter (April 2021) and was also an invited soloist for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities Conference in December 2021.  

 

She has also featured in several virtual concerts and before the pandemic was a regular soloist at Shalom Retirement Village, Hamilton. She is currently studying Music for Healing and Transition (remotely) at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge Massachusetts, in order to qualify as a Certified Music Practitioner (CMP).

 

Susanna is also a classically trained singer (soprano) who began her studies as a child in Oxford. She has studied with Adi Braun and Tina Torlone (Pro Voce Studios)  and has since sung in a number of recitals and as a church soloist and choir member. Her lyric soprano is especially suitable for traditional song.

 

She has studied Irish sean-nós traditional singing and Irish language at Carna, near Galway, Ireland. She has also developed a facility in Scots Gaelic and is able to sing in that language, premiering Dorothy de Val’s Òrain Gàidhlig in October 2021, an arrangement of traditional Gaelic songs as sung and taught by Christine Primrose.