Gettin’ to know you: Samantha

Samantha recently joined the Spitalfields Music line-up as our new Director of Marketing & Development. Read on to find out more about our Schubert-loving, Kiwi falconist…!

What was the first recording you bought?
The first record I bought (and it was a record) was Nik Kershaw’s album The Riddle.  I was about 11 years old and obsessed with him.

I bought the album after saving up money from my paper-round.  He was also the first concert I ever went to see – I won tickets from a radio competition and took my mum.  The obsession was short-lived though.  I hit the teenage years and my attentions turned to Duran Duran and INXS.

Nik Kershaw The Riddle

Nik Kershaw – The Riddle

Do you have a favourite composer/artist? If so, who?
I really, really don’t – which is a terribly boring answer to the question isn’t it. But if I were banished to a desert island with the works of only one composer for company, in that instance I would probably choose Schubert.

What was the last concert/gig you went to?
One of the many wonderful benefits of working for orchestras is getting to attend their concerts. So my last concert was with Britten Sinfonia where I previously worked. My last proper gig was the Black Keys at Alexandra Palace, and in a few weeks I’m off to see Tinariwen – a band of Tuareg-Berber musicians from northern Mali who are playing in London. I’m a complete music magpie.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was very little, I wanted to be a vet. I had this idea that being a vet meant you got to play with animals all day. But when we had to put one of our dogs to sleep, not only was heart-broken about losing my pet, I was also heart-broken discovering what a vet had to do sometimes. Not long after I fell in love with music and radio and knew that’s what I’d do. Before working in the arts, I had a long career in commercial radio.



What were you doing before coming to work with Spitalfields Music?
I was working with the fabulous Britten Sinfonia – a maternity cover position for the Marketing Director. Previous to that I worked for the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra (APO) in New Zealand.  Until then I’d had a career in commercial radio working in Brighton, Oxford and London, but in 2008 I went back to New Zealand (where I grew up) changed career, heading up the Marketing and Development departments of the APO. I had a wonderful, wonderful time and now couldn’t imagine ever not working in some way with ensembles and orchestras.  Believe it or not, there are many similarities between radio and orchestras.

What’s the nicest or weirdest gift you’ve been given?
I’m bit of a twitcher, so the nicest and weirdest gift I’ve been given was from some colleagues who got me a Falconry experience for my 30th birthday. It feels ‘awesome’ in the very truest sense of the word to have a powerful buzzard or tawny owl resting on your forearm, eating part of a small rodent. It’s not for the wary or for the squeamish.

Who would you cast as yourself in a movie about your life? And why?
Someone who plays a good geek. I’ve never aspired to be part of the in-crowd. I like a quirkier take on the world.

What excites you most about working with Spitalfields Music?
The companies I’ve loved working for have all had one thing in common:  they are grounded in place and champion their community.  That’s what drew me to Spitalfields Music, it’s an organisation that places as much focus on its learning programme as it does its performance programme. Spitalfields Music is incredibly innovative, more than is realised I think, and I’m excited and proud to be part of the team.

Where’s your favourite place in London?
Coming from New Zealand, which is such a green and mountainous country, I do get homesick for views and elevations.  So my favourite place isn’t a ‘place’ so much as a ‘view’. I will never, ever tire of flying into London, waiting for the moment that the plane finally breaks through the clouds to reveal the splendour of the city stretched out for miles below. Even that high up, you can see immediately that London is the most alive city in the world.

And finally, would you share an interesting fact about yourself with us?

Shortland Street's cast

Shortland Street’s early 90s cast

I was once an extra in Shortland Street, a New Zealand soap drama which screened for about two seconds in England during the hey-day of Neighbours. I was a student at the time and payment was all you could drink coca-cola.  Seemed a good deal to me.


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