Susan Mazer

Born in Detroit, Michigan, Susan Mazer began her harp studies at Cass Technical High School at the age of 13.

After studying for three years under Velma Froude, she moved on to study at Wayne State University with Elyze Ilku. It was at WSU that her relationship to the harp and to her musical career began to take form.
Susan was a scholarship recipient at the Meadowbrook School of Music and at the Academia Musicale Chigiana (Siena, Italy) where she participated in orchestral studies under the direction of the North Carolina School of the Arts.

She graduated from WSU with honors and moved west as a graduate fellow at Stanford University, where she received her Master of Arts degree in Music. As a classical harpist, Susan has performed with the Detroit Symphony, the English Royal Ballet, and under the batons of Sexton Ehling, Paul Paray, Robert Shaw, and other great conductors.

As a classically trained harpist, it was a major leap for Susan to move across the musical divide to jazz and popular music – especially at a time when the harp was not easily accepted as a legitimate instrument for any music other than symphonic.

It was in her years in San Francisco that Susan became well-known in the Bay area as a top jazz harpist. She played in San Francisco for 12 years until she began performing at Harrah’s in Lake Tahoe. During her long tenure there, she performed as a soloist with such noted artists as Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Julio Iglesias, Loretta Lynn, John Denver, and others.

In an effort to set a new standard for excellence and artistry as a harpist in the contemporary instrumental jazz and pop music genres, she ventured into technological realm of amplification.

Today, Susan is an acknowledged pioneer of the electro acoustic harp, enhancing the stunning sensitivity of the harp with a new depth, clarity, and technical virtuosity. She is a consultant for Lyon and Healy, working with the company to develop the electro acoustic harp. She authored the first technical manual for the instrument, which serves as a guide in both using the instrument and adapting classical technique to this new world of sound and performance.

Susan has been on the faculty of Harpfest, international pop and jazz harp festival, for many years and is equally known for her stylistic expansion of the harp into jazz improvisation and composition. She is the only jazz harpist to ever perform at the famous Village Vanguard in New York City where she played with jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal. Susan brings to her music both classical virtuosity and jazz fluidity. She has been described by guitarist and vocalist George Benson as the “Charlie Parker of the harp."

About Dallas Smith
About Mazer & Smith