Susanna Newton Hilliard was born in England and raised in the Boston area. Her musical training began at the age of seven with the recorder. At eleven, she switched to the oboe. In high school, Susanna performed with both the New England Conservatory Youth Orchestra, under the baton of Benjamin Zander, and the Massachusetts Youth Wind Ensemble (M.Y.W.E.), under conductor Frank L. Battisti. In 1976 she had the honor of touring Russia with M.Y.W.E. It was at the age of 15 after attending the “Apple Hill” music camp in the New Hampshire countryside, that she was inspired to pursue a lifelong career in music.
Susanna received her Bachelor’s Degree in Musical Performance from the New School of Music in Philadelphia. She was the recipient of a full merit scholarship during her last three years and, upon graduation, of the prestigious Robert Montgomery Prize for highest musical, academic and leadership qualities. In Philadelphia, she studied with Philadelphia Orchestra Assistant Principal Oboist Stevens Hewitt and English Horn Player Louis Rosenblatt. She played numerous chamber music concerts as a member of a student-organized oboe quartet and performed in several local symphonies soloing twice in 1978 and 1979.
In 1983, Susanna met her husband, a French horn player, at the Grand Teton Orchestral Training Seminar in Wyoming, where she studied with Eric Barr of the Dallas Symphony. She then lived in Los Angeles, California, where she played with the Desert Symphony, the Peninsula Chamber Orchestra, and the Glendale Chamber Orchestra. Subsequently, she won a one-year position in the National Orchestra of New York in Manhattan, where she studied with Elaine Duvas, principal oboe of the Metropolitan Opera, and also performed with the New Amsterdam Symphony.
During the next few years, while traveling at home and abroad, Susanna played in ensembles and orchestras in Boston, Los Angeles, and Florence, Italy. Her performances in Florence included the chamber groups Solisti a Fiato di Firenze and Solisti dell’Ensemble Cameristico Pistoiese, and a unique recital at the historic Villa Corsi Salviati in Sesto Fiorentino.
In 1994, Susanna and her family—which now included two sons—moved to North Texas, where she launched her teaching career. She currently has a studio of more than 50 students a week, and plays oboe and English horn regularly in three symphony orchestras: the Irving Symphony, Plano Symphony, and San Angelo Symphony.
Susanna is co-founder of the chamber music ensemble Mélange Musical, www.MelangeMusical.com, which has been performing chamber music concerts in the North Texas area since 2007.