Division: Classical Performance and Composition
Program: Choral and Sacred Music
Expertise: Choral Music
Susan Elizabeth Digby read music at King’s College in London, where she studied piano and singing. She lived in Mexico and the Philippines, and then spent 12 years in Hong Kong, where she had a television series while also working in radio broadcasting, teaching, and performing.
In 1990 she was awarded a Winston Churchill Fellowship, which she used to travel and study in Finland, Hungary, Canada, and the United States, focusing on methods of choral training and music education. She also trained with Péter Erdei, head of choral studies at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest. Inspired by her fellowship travels, she founded a national music education charity in 1993 called The Voices Foundation, whose methodology is based on that of Hungarian music educator Zoltán Kodály. The same year, Yehudi Menuhin appointed her to spearhead the U.K. branch of his MUS-E project. The Voices Foundation Children’s Choir, a multi-ethnic choir comprised of children from throughout the U.K., has performed at state occasions including the VE Day Head of State ceremony and the first National Holocaust Memorial Day, and has also toured in Europe. Digby currently serves as one of the Foundation’s 20 advisory teachers and is in charge of its education project in primary schools.
From 1996 to 1998, Digby was musical director of Rosslyn Hill Chapel Choir, and from 1998 to 2000 was director of the Middlesex Bach Choir. In 1998 she launched Singing Schools, a five-year program in South Africa involving 70 schools in Soweto and Johannesburg. More than 200 African children’s songs have been collected and integrated into the U.K. program. In 2000, Digby was invited to become a council member of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, where she serves as chairman of the arts category. That same year she was shortlisted for a Creative Britain Award. She also founded and directed the award-winning London-based adult chamber choir, Coro. In 2003 she founded Voce. She was founding musical director of the infant program of the Finchley Children’s Music Group and co-founded Music Box, the Bristol-based children’s opera group.
She is also a conductor and has performed in some of London’s most prestigious concert venues including the Royal Albert Hall, St John’s Smith Square, St James’s Piccadilly, and the Royal College of Music. Abroad, she is guest conductor of St. Stephen’s Oratorio Choir in Budapest. She regularly commissions work by leading composers and is in great demand as judge at choral festivals and competitions, including the Coleraine Music Festival in Northern Ireland and Sainsbury Choir of the Year. Digby is CEO of arts.works (www.artsworks.uk.com), a company that delivers corporate workshops for clients ranging from Sainsbury’s to HSBC, with an emphasis on team building, active listening, and confident communication. She has also worked regularly with radio and television in the U.K. and has presented for BBC Wales television, including The Cardiff Singer of the World competition.
Together with her husband, Lord John Eatwell, the prominent British economist, Digby has most recently been appointed to the USC faculty for the Fall 2011 semester. Digby joins the USC Thornton School of Music as an instructor in English choral literature with Nick Strimple, a professor of choral music and an acclaimed composer, and in the new Arts Leadership Program. In addition to teaching, she will be involved with a variety of artistic and educational endeavors within USC Thornton.