A North Carolina native, Samuel Sparrow began his position as Section and E-flat Clarinet with the Charlotte Symphony in 2017, and also served as Acting Principal Clarinet in the 2018-19 season. In addition to his post in the Charlotte Symphony, Mr. Sparrow has performed with the New York Philharmonic, North Carolina and New World Symphonies, and Verbier Festival Orchestra in Switzerland. He has collaborated with many of today’s leading conductors and soloists, including Valery Gergiev, Alan Gilbert, Charles Dutoit, Yuja Wang, and Martin Fröst.
As a soloist, he has appeared with the Raleigh Symphony, Garner Sinfonia, and Triangle Youth Philharmonic. Other performance highlights include a featured appearance with Sting at the Main Assembly Hall of the United Nations and the West Coast premiere of Matthew Aucoin’s chamber opera, Second Nature.
In addition to performing, Mr. Sparrow is an avid proponent of music education. He joined Queens University of Charlotte as Adjunct Professor in 2019, and has also presented a masterclass at the University of North Carolina Greensboro. He regularly gives coachings at local schools throughout Charlotte and serves as a coach for the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra program.
The recipient of the Leon Russianoff Memorial Scholarship, Mr. Sparrow earned his Bachelor of Music in Clarinet Performance from the Manhattan School of Music. His primary teachers include Mark Nuccio, Anthony McGill, and Pascual Martinez. During his summers, he has furthered his studies at the Brevard Music Center’s Orchestral Institute and the Music Academy of the West in California.
Off StageHometown: Durham, North Carolina
Why did you select your instrument?
My parents said the drums were too loud, and my band had too many flutes already, so the clarinet seemed like the next coolest instrument.
What would most surprise people about you?
I love a good adrenaline rush! I'm a big rollercoaster fan, and recently rode the world's largest free-fall swing.
If you could meet one composer, who would it be and what would you ask him/her?
Shostakovich. How did you find the courage to keep composing after falling out of favor with the Soviet government?
What's your funniest/most compelling on-stage moment?
I once fell off the stage during a performance. We were playing Haydn's Farewell Symphony. Every musician's part ends at a different time, so to emphasize this, we played in the dark with stand lights and walked off the stage quietly after our part ended. As I turned off my light and starting walking off stage, there was one more stair on my riser than I realized. My instrument was okay, but my pride ... not so much.
Any pre-performance rituals?
A light meal and breathing exercises to relax.
Other than your instrument, what would we find in your instrument case?
Pencils, reeds, earplugs, sheet music ...the occasional grocery list.
What do you love most about being a professional musician?
Hearing from audience members about how the music positively impacts their life. Music-making is very personally rewarding, but reaching someone else is what really makes this job meaningful.