Samuel Penderbayne - Classical Composer
What do you do?
I’m a classical composer!
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
I'm totally uninterestingly normal - I like to hang out with my girlfriend and baby, watch vids and eat things, hopefully vegetarian.
Is this your whole income or do you have other side hustles?
What were 3-4 significant events that led you into your current creative practice?
In this order only:
Working on my art
Organising my own dream concerts: writing the piece(s) I always wanted to write, writing grants to finance it and/or digging deep, and getting a pro to make an HD recording of it
Meeting powerful people twice my age that can give me an opportunity. Unfortunately, this is quicker than the more desirable method of waiting for your peers to grow into power positions.
What are three creative tools you couldn't live without?
Planning ahead: where do I see myself in 5/10/20 years and what steps do I have to take (this is also in terms of getting better as a composer, not just growing my career).
What are 3 business/self-management tools that you use to help make running your own business easier?
I'm awful at this and try to find someone I can pay to do it for me. I'd rather spend the time on my art.
Which artists in your field are you loving right now?
Can you describe a working day for you?
Always different - planning, meeting and hopefully composing.
What are the perks of your job?
Long-term satisfaction and meeting lots of interesting people. I always wanted to be a composer, from very young, and it’s a great honour to able to live it out. That’s the only perk, really, but for me the most important thing.
What are some of the challenges you encounter?
It’s poorly paid, existentially difficult and largely unfair as an industry. The way commissions get given out is largely not based on who will write the best music, and there are only a few commissions to go around. It’s probably better in continental Europe than the US, UK or Australia, but still frustrating, and I’m not talking about myself as I’ve been lucky. So it’s basically a daily challenge to plan ahead around how you’re going to pay the rent and bills.
For all the creative artists in our community, what are 5 tips you can give them that you've learned through your career?
Above all, work on your art
Get out and meet people
Write a list of your priorities, put them in order, then only do the top 3.
What advice would you give to someone who says they're feeling overwhelmed and anxious trying to self-manage their creative career and are in need of some practical advice?
Work on the next project/opportunity until it's the best it can be. Repeat ad infinitum.
Why do you work in the arts and why do you create?
It's a compulsion. I'd pay to write contemporary classical music, I just need to.
How does your art form make you see the world differently? What do you notice that others often walk past?
It connects me to the past in a special way - I feel like I'm sitting next to Beethoven when I hear his music, even though it was written when women couldn't vote and slavery was commonplace.
How do you balance business and creativity in your life?
I focus on creativity and give it preference.
What do you think it means to live a creative life?
Could mean an infinitely broad range of things. For me, it means to compose music for a living. For others, it may mean something completely different.
Any final advice or words?
Work on your art.
Do you have any links to projects that you're involved in that you would like us to share with this article?
If you're in Berlin in November or December winter, come along to my new opera!