Shannon Webster - Orchestra
Susan Kohanski is the Orchestra Director at Manchester High School in Manchester, Connecticut, where she oversees a program of 120 string students in one of the most diverse high schools in the state. At MHS, she directs the Freshman/Sophomore orchestra, the Junior/Senior orchestra, the auditioned multigrade Chamber Orchestra, the Cello Ensemble, and facilitates student-led chamber music groups.
Before coming to Manchester, Susan was the Orchestra Director for 25 years at East Lyme Middle School in Niantic, CT. It was in East Lyme; as a beginning teacher; that she truly developed a love of teaching strings to young people and helping them to fulfill their potential as musicians. To that end, she has spent her career creating communities of musicians, fostering a philosophy of service through music, and “making our corner of the world a better place”.
Susan has been involved with the Connecticut Music Educators Association since 1990, serving many times as Ensemble Chair for Eastern Region Middle and High School Orchestra Festivals. She has served as Head Judge and String Liaison for both festivals, and has more recently participated in ongoing revisions to the string scoring process and audition repertoire. She is currently involved with exploring the addition of a string orchestra to the ERHS Festival for 2021.
As a performer, Susan is a freelance cellist and private teacher. She is the principal cellist for the Manchester Symphony Orchestra and Chorale, where she also serves as the Education Liaison. She takes great pride and joy in seeing her MHS students performing side by side with the Symphony musicians several times a year.
A lifelong Connecticut resident, Susan credits her success to the enlightened minds behind the Norwalk Public Schools Music Department, who instituted a “a violin in every third grader’s hand” curriculum when she was in elementary school. She comes from a family of musicians, with a sister, brother, and two sons who are professional performers, teachers and scholars.
Susan holds a Bachelor of Music in Musicology from the Hartt School and a Master of Music in Historical Performance from the New England Conservatory. She is honored to have been invited to conduct the 2022 Laurel Music Camp Orchestra.