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Love, Loss and Music: Meet local conductor Sam Parry

In a year of unpredictable happenings, conductor and composer Sam Parry's mission makes a lot of sense.

This weekend, Sam will lead his three musical ensembles the WA Wind Symphony, the West Coast Philharmonic Orchestra, and the West Coast Philharmonic Chorus in a special concert that couldn't be more appropriate for the times in which we're currently living. This concert is a collection of pieces that embrace life and all of the many emotions it deals us; its trials and tribulations but also its joyous moments.

With a program featuring a song Sam wrote himself as a tribute to the son he lost, as well as a song by country music legend Dolly Parton, this heartwarming concert will leave audiences with a peaceful reminder of calm and joy and that we're not in it alone. A true testament to the power of music. 

When Sam formed the three ensembles in 2008, they each allowed for a creative endeavour in music-making but his hope always was and still is that the musicians themselves enjoy a sense of belonging and purpose with their instruments. There's nothing quite like playing in a large group of musicians and that innate sense of belonging that comes from rehearsing or playing in a large hall. 

We caught up with Sam to learn about his mission, his music, and why now, more than ever, we can all use a bit of comfort that this concert will be sure to provide.


Untitled design 2021 02 15T111100.070(Photo courtesy: Sam Parry)


Tell me a bit about the ensembles for those who may not have heard them live before. 
I formed the Orchestra and Choir for a performance at Perth Concert Hall actually, and that was back in 2008. It was going to be a one-off event to raise funds for charity. After losing a loved one, I had a shift in how I wanted to approach the ensembles and I realised that I wanted to focus on giving back and how I can do that through music and from there I wanted to have them be a full year thing and the WA Symphony has been in performing throughout the year since 2017.  

What do these ensembles mean for you personally?
Our mantra is 'Changing lives through music' and I feel that the music in this concert has the power to heal and the journey helps us be retrospective in a really positive way. Some of this concert will be intensely uplifting and some will be reflective and remind us of the sadness we all experience in life – and all are valid as we share this concert.  

Your orchestras have a unique stance – they give back to charity! Tell us how they're structured and how you give back...
Giving back was how it all began. Since we started over ten years ago we've changed focus from straight donation to having the funds from concerts go to directly helping us do our work out in the communities – this allows us to go out and produce concerts in areas where people benefit a lot from music, like nursing homes. Having these ensembles exist in itself is very important terms of what it does for the musicians in them – it changes their worlds when they get the chance to actually go out and perform.  

The program on the 20th is a mix of songs, from a song by Dolly Parton to classical pieces. Tell us what we can expect to hear this weekend?
The message of every part of this concert gives hope that, at some point, we can each find peace and joy after grief. Nothing about it at all is depressed – after those memories of times in our lives where we've grieved, we can heal and this concert gives that message. It's a message of uplifting people. We're really excited about this concert as well because we're teaming up with some well known singers from around Perth like Perry Joyce and Katja Webb. On Requiem, we've got two young voices that feature and a quartet and these voices together is really unique. We also have a piece by Rebecca Dale – she's a female British composer; this song is about space and healing. I love that the voices call for a unity of voice and it's nice to do a work that's recent and by a woman in a world where female composers can be underrepresented. So we're very excited about her piece. 

WA Wind Symphony, West Coast Philharmonic Orchestra & Chorus will perform
REQUIEM: Love and Loss this Saturday 20 February at 7:30pm.

Tickets available here.