Here, we acknowledge and commemorate significant figures in the field of acoustic ecology, their contributions and legacy.
Susan Frykberg (1954-2023)
Composer, educator, founding member of the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology
The World Forum for Acoustic Ecology is saddened at the loss of Susan Frykberg, who passed away in Whanganui, New Zealand on Friday, April 7, 2023. She was 68 years old.
Several tributes have been made to Susan:
Hildegard Westerkamp, Wendelin Bartley and Tina Pearsonshared their memories of Susan for the Association of Canadian Women Composers (ACWC) and the Canadian Association for Sound Ecology (CASE):
Hildegard Westerkamp: ...When I think of Susan, I immediately hear her expressive, ever-modulating voice. It could be full of infectious enthusiasm, have a good dose of seriousness and feet-on-the-ground realism, or a tone of curiosity, adventurism and free creative spirit. Her life was not easy, but far from ever complaining or giving up, she found strength and comfort in developing unceasingly her own version of creativity and spirituality, compositional action/activism, motherhood and caring for others. The multi-faceted quality of her voice is echoed in her varying compositional approaches. From early on – aside from composing for instruments - she was interested in computer and electroacoustic music, audio and recording technology, and in the ideas of soundscape. In addition she incorporated theatrical, non-musical elements into her compositional work. As she says herself, “I'm a sound artist and composer of electroacoustic, instrument and vocal music and chant. I like to try different approaches to sound and composition and so my output is an expression of the variety of my creative, intellectual and spiritual life...
Wendelin Bartley ...Susan’s friendliness and enthusiasm was overflowing every time we met. She was a pioneer in computer music, and I was excited to read about her dissertation topic she recently completed about electronic music and spirituality, a topic I’m also interested in. I look forward to reading her thoughts when the thesis becomes available....
Tina Pearson Susan was an important instigator in the Toronto new-electronic music world. She started a composer peer support-review group, meeting mostly, I believe, at the Canadian Electronic Ensemble studios. It was an opportunity for composers to present scores and works for feedback. She was a brave feisty woman and she changed things for the better by her example. She was also a fierce advocate of artists who are mothers and the importance of supporting them, especially solo mothers, and recognized the challenges of being a composer while mothering. The full text is available on the button below:
Cat Hope, Susan's PhD supervisor, wrote an obituary for Susan in Australia's CutCommon Magazine:
...Susan Frykberg was an electronic music composer and sound artist whose music practice became an increasingly spiritual one. A citizen of both New Zealand and Canada, she lived most recently in Melbourne where she was a key part of the music scene over the last 10 years. Frykberg composed more than 80 musical works during her life, including music for acoustic, theatre, and religious settings in addition to many electroacoustic works. For her, music was an expression of her creative, intellectual, and spiritual life, and she was involved in key electroacoustic music scenes wherever she lived. She passed away in Whanganui, New Zealand from a terminal illness, amongst her family...
...Susan is perhaps best known for her music composition for voices, violin, and tape called “The Audio Birth Project,” her major release on the earsay label. Described by critics as “an emotional chisel,” “primal, cathartic,” and “a tour de force in both composition and subject,” this landmark work chronicles, in sound art, the process of labour and birth, based on interviews with her sisters and mother. The album title is derived from the major work “Astonishing Sense of Being Taken Over by Something Far Greater Than Me.” earsay mourns the loss of this wonderful artist and human being...
The Whanganui Chronicle alsopublished an article at her passing, acknowledged the importance of her home country of New Zealand, and especially of Whanganuias a spiritual home.
More tributes will be shared as they become available.
To contribute your own memories of Susan's life and legacy, please contact WFAE Secretary Jesse Budel at email@example.com