Suzanne Smith, CelloChanWoods Founder and Director, has performed and taught for over 30 years. During that time she has developed a philosophy of teaching that includes the whole person in ways that help ignite the creative process and instill confidence in her students. A pursuit of excellence at CCW takes place in this context. Over the last seven years, many cellists have left CelloChanWoods with a new clarity about their personal, cellistic, and artistic goals. A highly supportive community of musicians makes it all the more possible.
Ms. Smith has a bachelors in performance from Oberlin Conservatory under the late Richard Kapuscinski, formerly a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. She went on to complete a Masters in Music under Bernard Greenhouse of the Beaux Arts Trio. After doing two more years of post graduate study with Mr. Greenhouse, she later worked with Janos Starker over a 2 year period from 2010-2012. At the Tanglewood Music Festival she performed under Colin Davis, Michael Tillson Thomas, Seji Ozawa, and Gunther Schuller. In master class Suzanne has worked with Lynn Harell at the Scotia Festival, Jules Eskin at the Sarasota Festival, Rya Garbasova at the Cleveland Institute, and more. Suzanne studied the Suzuki method in the 1980s with Evon Tate, Gilda Barston, and was honored to have a meeting with Dr. Suzuki himself in 1970. She has preformed as chamber musician, soloist, and orchestral performer throughout her life. Presently she is principal cellist of the Montpelier, VT. Chamber Orchestra and performs as part of Vermont Virtuosi in Vermont.
Suzanne's cellisitc work, has become directly and positively impacted by her study of Zen, or Ch’an Buddhism, for the past 25 years. Ch’an, in the name Cellochan or CelloChanWoods, means the deepest understanding or to “see”. Though Buddhism is not studied here, many of the ideas relating to focus, confidence, and openness are shared. The retreat is an opportunity to explore the joy of music making in the context of mind and body integration. Through basic centering meditation and relaxation in movement classes, students can locate tension and/or blocks in their playing. Zen offers many ideas regarding focus and concentration. Over a period of 10 years, Suzanne studied under the late Zen Master, Master Sheng Yen, for whom a chair at Columbia University has been dedicated. Master Sheng Yen founded the Dharma Drum Buddhist University in Taiwan. She has participated in numerous Zen retreats and uses the method of “Silent Illumination”. As a result, Suzanne is able to clearly communicate to her students how to effectively sit, move, focus, and to be more open and aware at the cello. The cello is part of her own spiritual practice. This retreat accepts students as young as 12 up to adults. Participants are placed in their appropriate playing level at the retreat. The CelloChanWoods staff is highly qualified to teach very advanced students of any age.