21 Jun 2017
Composer and pianist Opeloge Ah Sam has been awarded the 2017 Creative New Zealand Samoa Artist in Residency to develop an international dance work Siva Mai.
The residency is offered in partnership with the University of Samoa in Apia. Opeloge will spend three months collaborating with musicians and composers at the university’s music department.
“Being in Samoa means I can build confidence in my musical knowledge and connections. It will help me to connect with my identity, and to become more familiar with where and what I am from so I can create a meaningful work of fusion.”
Arts Council member Caren Rangi says she is delighted with the appointment which represents the first time a composer has received this sought after residency.
“Through his passion, talent and commitment to music performance and composition Opeloge has contributed so much to Samoan, Pacific and wider communities in New Zealand. I am thrilled he will be able to use this award to share his knowledge and experience with musicians and composers in Samoa.”
Opeloge says he is very much looking forward to collaborating with contemporaries at the university’s music department, with whom he has a long-standing working relationship.
He says he would like to take Siva Mai overseas and share the work internationally.
“My passion is music – it is an endless medium of emotional expression, connection and joy that can heal, and make us happy. In this world we live in today, we can all do with more joy in our lives.
“I love sharing my journey with others and inspiring young people who are passionate about music and music composition to walk a similar path. It can be a very rewarding and fulfilling career.”
A Samoan New Zealander who is passionate about music education, Opeloge is a music teacher at Abundant Life School in Kaitaia. He studied music composition at Auckland University and the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music and is completing a PhD in music composition at Victoria University of Wellington, where he worked as a mentor and lecturer in Pasifika Music Performance.
During his career, Opeloge has worked as a professional musician in various roles including composer, conductor, pianist, stage manager, percussionist and event manager. His composition We are Pasifika, the first fully Pacific orchestral repertoire concert of its kind, will soon be performed by the Manukau Symphony Orchestra.
About the Samoa Artist in Residency programme
The Samoa Artist in Residency programme is open to mid-career or established New Zealand artists of Pacific heritage to work on an arts project and develop their potential, skills and practice.
Creative New Zealand acknowledges the support of the New Zealand High Commission in Samoa.