Susanne Beer: Talented cellist departs, but leaves a platform for future stars to shine

PUBLISHED: 11:40 14 January 2020 | UPDATED: 11:40 14 January 2020

Susanne Beer has passed away at the age of 52. Picture: Glen Thomas.

Susanne Beer has passed away at the age of 52. Picture: Glen Thomas.

© Glen F Thomas

Susanne Beer, a highly-respected musician who taught over 60 young people to play the cello, passed away in December at the age of 52.

Beer was co-principal of the London Philharmonic Orchestra for 18 years. Picture: Glen Thomas.Beer was co-principal of the London Philharmonic Orchestra for 18 years. Picture: Glen Thomas.

Born in Passau, a Bavarian town close to the Austrian border, Beer first studied at the Mozarteum in Salzburg and then Munich's Hochschule fur Musik.

She was co-principal of the London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) for 18 years before leaving in 2012 to set up The Cello Corner, a studio in Highbury which introduced the instrument to children - some as young as three years old. She died at the end of the year after a long battle with melanoma cancer.

Beer was also a director of 60min Concerts, a monthly series of live music events held at intimate venues around north London. Heather Tuach, artistic director of 60min Concerts, leads the tributes.

"I met Susanne four years ago," she says. "I knew of her before - she was this incredibly glamorous cellist who lived in my neighbourhood, with an impressive resume including co-principal cellist of LPO and a regular at Glyndebourne.

She went on to create The Cello Corner, based in Highbury, in 2012. Picture: Glen Thomas.She went on to create The Cello Corner, based in Highbury, in 2012. Picture: Glen Thomas.

"Any nerves I had disappeared once we met. She was a warm and funny person, very generous and thoughtful. She was also an inspiring and passionate teacher and she became a role model for my own teaching."

Tuach says that Beer was diagnosed with cancer several years ago, at a time when "she was really at the top of her game."

"Her hard work and dedication was paying off - students were winning prizes, she was invited to teach at high profile summer courses. Even after she got sick, she continued to teach.

"When she could teach no more, in her final months, she didn't give up and somehow found the energy to start a Foundation so she could continue to support young musicians."

Although it is early days for the Susanne Beer Cello Corner Foundation, its creation should give more young people the chance to pick up the instrument and excel.

The Foundation will organise fine-stringed instrument loans - improving access to equipment without the pressure on families to buy - and will offer assistance with tuition costs. What's more, each 60min Concert opens with a short performance from young musicians, and through the Foundation those picked to feature will receive cash prizes.

Tuach says it's one thing to achieve excellence as a cellist in an orchestra, but it's another to become a brilliant teacher, too.

"Susanne trained over 60 north London cellists to a high level, some winning competitions and places at the National Children's Orchestra. It is remarkable that she did this after her illustrious career as a performer."

In spite of her declining health, Beer got married in the summer. "The wedding was at Lauderdale House," explains Tuach. "Susanne didn't let cancer get her down. Following her diagnosis, she had the joyous occasion of her wedding to focus on and now we all have memories of that day to hold on to."

The LPO have created a fundraising page in aid of the Foundation and Tuach plans to keep Beer's legacy alive with the continuation of the 60min Concerts.

"Each 60min Concert is a tribute because it starts with the Susanne Beer Cello Corner prizewinner," Tuach continues.

"Also we have a fundraising concert for the Foundation at the end of every season. The next fundraising event will be on June 13, with Greenwich Trio and local soprano Sena Larard at Christ Church, Highbury.

"60min Concerts is next on this Saturday (January 18). Susanne's student and Islington resident Sonny Buether will open the concert."

For more information, click here.

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