Susan Keith Gray

Chris Holtmeier

Susan Keith Gray shares her love of music through a multi-faceted career as teacher and performer in the fields of solo and collaborative piano.

An award-winning member of the faculty at the University of South Dakota, she received the Belbas-Larson Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2005 and the 2014-2016 Esther and Wayne Knutson Distinguished Faculty Award for the College of Fine Arts. Her students from elementary through the undergraduate and graduate levels are winners in regional competitions and move on to prestigious graduate programs and notable musical careers. At USD, Gray serves as a mentor to young collaborative pianists as coordinator of collaborative assignments and as the founder and director of USD’s master’s degree in collaborative piano.

Gray began her own collaborative piano career at an early age, playing for church choirs and high school companions. Her college education was funded with collaborative piano assistantships, through to a doctoral degree with one of the world’s most esteemed collaborative pianists, Martin Katz. Her career in collaboration has included the privilege to work with a wide array of esteemed partners such as singers Scott Piper, Carla Connors, Earl Coleman, Patricia Prunty and Louis Otey; violinists Scott St. John, Anna Vayman and Mihaela Oprea; cellists Keith Robinson and Anthony Elliott; flutists Leone Buyse and Torkil Bye; clarinetists Richard Hawkins and Theodore Oien; trumpeter, Joe Burgstaller; and bassists Barry Green and Maximilian Dimoff. She has served as collaborative artist/faculty at Cedar Valley Chamber Music Festival, Hot Springs Music Festival, Music Academy of the West and Camp Opera and on the staff of the American Horn Competition and the GM/Seventeen Magazine National Concerto Competition where she performed with cellists Wendy Warner and Zuill Bailey.

As a member of the University of South Dakota Rawlins Piano Trio, Gray has recorded four discs of American piano trios (Albany Records, Azica) and has twice performed the complete cycle of Beethoven piano trios. The Trio has commissioned and recorded seven new works and continues to focus on unknown treasures of the repertoire. Opera and art song credits include Saginaw Opera (MI), the University of Michigan Opera Workshop, Sioux Falls Friends of Opera, tours of African-American Art Song with soprano Charsie Randolph-Sawyer and performances and recordings for public radio and compact disc of African-American art song with Randolph-Sawyer, Louise Toppin, Ray Wade and others (Videmus/Albany and Calvin).

Gray's various expertise has led to many opportunities for presentations at national and international conferences—Music Teachers National Association, College Music Society, International Workshops, Stavanger, Norway, the First International Conference on Women in Music, Bangor, Wales and as keynote speaker at the 1st Piano Teachers’ Workshop at the Hong Kong Institute of Education. Highlights of her solo work includes MTNA competition awards and concerto performances in South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, South Dakota and Iowa. 2019 performances will include the Martinu Triple Concerto, H. 231 and the Bach D minor concerto.

Studies include solo piano with George Lucktenberg and Ian Hobson; collaborative arts with Martin Katz and Eckart Sellheim; fortepiano with Penelope Crawford; harpsichord with Edward Parmentier; Injury-Preventive Piano Technique with Barbara Lister-Sink; and additional studies with Theodore Lettvin, Louis Nagel and Jean Barr. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance from Converse College, the Master of Music in Piano Performance from the University of Illinois, a Graduate Certificate in Injury-Preventive Piano Technique from Salem College and the Doctor of Musical Arts in Collaborative Piano from the University of Michigan.