Borwick, Susan

Susan Borwick, composer, musicologist, music theorist, teacher, and ordained minister, was born in Dallas, TX in 1946. She began composing as a child, and published her first composition at the age of fourteen. She graduated from Baylor University with magna cum laude degrees in music theory and composition, studying composition with Richard Willis, and in vocal music education, and then received the Ph.D. in musicology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she studied composition with Roger Hannay. Her dissertation on the music for the stage collaborations of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht propelled her toward a lifelong interest in the collaborative creative process. Dr. Borwick’s early articles focused on Weill and his widow, a creative artist in her own right, Lotte Lenya.

In her initial faculty appointment at the Baylor University School of Music (1972-1977), Dr. Borwick continued to compose and arrange for choir and solo piano, idioms she continues to prefer. She became known at that time for her piano arrangements of familiar hymns in the Baptist tradition. In 1977, Dr. Borwick joined the theory and musicology faculties of the Eastman School of Music, the University of Rochester, where she taught until 1982, when she became chair of the music department at Wake Forest University. At Wake Forest, she now is Professor of Music and a member of the Associated Faculty of the Wake Forest University Divinity School. While she has served three terms as music chair, one as director of women’s studies, and a year as president of the University Senate at Wake Forest, her first love remains teaching and collaborating with students.

Dr. Borwick has guest lectured in Europe, Asia, and North America on spirituality and the arts, twentieth- and twenty-first-century music, women and music, women and violence, and theory pedagogy. Articles by her are widely published—for example, in Opera Quarterly, Music Library Association Notes, Journal of Thought, Journal of Musicological Research, National Women’s Studies Association Journal, or the International Alliance of Women in Music Journal. She helped found the NWSA Contemporary Curriculum Transformation Project: Multiplicities of Identities and has served two terms on the NWSA Program Administration & Development Council. She also has served as chair of the Committee on the Status of Women of the American Musicological Society and as president of the North Carolina Association of Music Schools.

Divorce and a bout with cancer prompted Dr. Borwick to reinvigorate her call to composition. During the past dozen years, she has composed prolifically as she has sought to reinterpret past sacred traditions in spiritually vital and inclusive ways. She finds inspiration in her faith community, Knollwood Baptist Church, Winston-Salem, NC, where she is Composer-in-Residence, and in her son John Borwick and daughter-in-law Lauren Pressley.

Choral music by Susan Borwick