AWO Alumni Series 1 - Sami Butler
What instrument do you play? Percussion & timpani
When did you start learning music/your instrument? I was 10 when I started percussion however I had played violin since I was about 5!
Where did you study? At the Elder Conservatorium of Music
What made you want to become a professional musician? I have always really loved music, whether it’s playing it, listening to it or seeing it live. When I was 17 I heard the ASO play Mahler 7 and something just connected with me, I knew I wanted to play stuff like that!
Why did you want to be in AWO? AWO was a fantastic ensemble with great players who had mostly just finished the con or were about to. Also, the percussion section was a great bunch of people to hang out with, which made rehearsals fun and challenging.
How long did you play in AWO? Four years, I didn’t do the very first concert but I was part of it from its first year until the end of 2016.
What did you learn from being a part of AWO? It was fantastic to help build my skill levels in sight reading and learning notes very quickly! We often would have to play very challenging repertoire with a million notes to learn in a short time frame!
What was the best thing about being part of AWO? Played incredible works that I’d never get the opportunity to play or possibly hear otherwise! Some highlights include works by Langston-Turner and especially by John Mackey.
What was your favourite concert? It’s hard to choose, there were quite a few exciting ones. If I had to choose though, either the John Williams fringe concert or when we performed Mackey’s Wine-Dark Sea.
What are you doing now? I am currently undertaking a fellowship with Sydney Symphony Orchestra. This involves playing with the SSO as a regular casual as well as doing chamber repertoire with the other fellows. I also freelance with other groups/orchestras.
How did AWO help you get to where you are now? It’s good ensemble experience. As a percussionist, it’s important to learn how to follow and play with wind/brass players. Like I said before it’s also a lot of notes, so in some aspects wind orchestra can over-prepare you for orchestral percussion (it’s a completely different challenge though). I was also section leader with AWO for a few years which gave me responsibility for handing out parts, finding players and sourcing gear, all-important skills!