Like many Queensland Conservatorium graduates, Sam, 21, is looking to the future, and as an aspiring professional violinist, dreams of playing for one of the great symphony orchestras.
“I really enjoy playing in an orchestra and love playing with other musicians. It’s nice to share an experience with someone else while they’re playing with you. Sharing music with others is my favourite way to play,” she said.
The power of the collective has reverberated in Sam’s music in other ways too.
The inaugural recipient of The Arts Assets Giving Circle scholarship, established through a group of friends, Sam can confidently pursue a career in music after graduation.
“It is a big deal, I have never received something like this before. This scholarship is going to do so much for me and students like me who are here [Queensland Conservatorium] by the skin of their teeth,” she said.
A gifted musician, Sam started learning to play the violin at the age of eight, dedicating countless hours to fine tuning her craft.
Her mother had first encouraged Sam to learn the piano, but Sam soon took up the violin after watching her brother play.
“I saw my older brother playing violin and he loved it, and I wanted to play too,” she said.
Having two talented violinists in the family was probably more than Sam’s parents had bargained for, with Sam’s brother studying at the Royal Danish Academy in Copenhagen in Denmark and Sam at the Queensland Conservatorium.
Although Sam lived a little closer to her hometown of Sydney, the cost of relocation, living expenses and a suitable violin for someone of Sam’s calibre were exorbitant.
“It’s very expensive, my parents have done so much for us and have been very supportive,” she said.
Between music lessons, multiple violins and ongoing maintenance costs, Sam was fortunate to stave off the further expense of a new violin at the standard required for university.
On loan from the University’s Instrument Bank, Sam has been playing the Victor Licciardi Violin, which was generously donated.
The much-loved instrument is something Sam has treasured throughout her degree and has played a huge part in taking her to the next level of her practice.
The violin belonged to Queensland Symphony Orchestra violinist, Victor Licciardi. The only condition of the loan was the instrument be wrapped in the same silk scarf he had used when storing it for safe keeping.
Sam returned the violin at her last recital at Griffith, forming part of an ongoing legacy that ensures future generations of young violinists have access to quality instruments.
“It is such a beautiful instrument and has helped me so much, I will be sad to see it go but it’s for the best because it is in the spirit of how it was given and will go on to help other students,” she said.
The next violin Sam will own will most likely be her ‘forever violin’ something she will need if she is to take her career to the next level.
The savings she has scraped together from part-time work and the scholarship will go a long way to making that next crucial step.
“I’m so grateful for the support. The money has helped me plan and imagine myself doing things I didn’t think I would be able to do before,” she said.
“It makes such a big difference to a person like me, it means I can look at further study or buy a violin, which would be the biggest deal for me right now.”
Sam recalls meeting the scholarship donors after performing the Korngold Violin Concerto with the Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra.
“They were all so lovely and supportive. It was nice they got to see me play and put a face to the person on the paper,” she said.
Dr Sheena Burnell first floated the idea of creating the scholarship by forming a giving circle. Collectively, their combined resources enabled them to establish the scholarship.
“The people who ended up chipping in were people I just happened to be chatting with at work, and they were like, ‘I want to be in on that,’ it was really wonderful.
“We wouldn’t necessarily all meet each other socially but this scholarship brought us together. It just seemed like a good idea and has been really fun.
“What made it all worthwhile was when we met Sam and saw her perform. She is such a worthy recipient, I hope we can follow her whole career.”
Dr Burnell has been a music lover for many years and wanted to do more to support the arts culture in Brisbane. She saw philanthropy as an opportunity to help.
“If I had more money, I would give more. I’m very much about service, it’s something I enjoy,” she said.
“I think philanthropy is a measure of a society, I’ve always been a great believer in a society that helps others.
“If you have means, you should share it around. For me, a vital and vibrant arts scene is really important for an intelligent thriving society.”