Jamie L. Sampson

Jamie L. Sampson

Theatre Manager


The Ohio Theater, ADJ-ective New Music, ADVerb Trio


It's amazing that there are enough hours in a week to accomplish what Jamie Leigh Sampson does. The manager of the recently restored and reopened Ohio Theater is also working on a book, teaching music, composing music, even writing the occasional opera. After growing up and receiving her undergraduate degree in New York, she moved to Bowling Green to pursue her Master's. Toledo.com caught up with the classical music enthusiast and T.S. Eliot fan to talk about her current projects, writing an opera in 12 hours and her favorite authors. 

Tell us more about some of your past projects?

The past few years have been really exciting for me as a composer. My soprano saxophone duo Cross'd was performed in Arizona, Chicago, and even St. Andrews, Scotland by the Ogni Suono Saxophone Duo. In January 2013, I flew to Atlanta to participate in Atlanta Opera's 24-hour Opera Project; I wrote a 9-minute opera in 12 hours and 12 hours after I finished composing, it was premiered.  

My husband and I started our publishing company, ADJ•ective New Music in 2010, but it has turned into so much more than publishing our own music. We’ll be releasing a book I'm writing sometime in the next year, and we’re going into our third season producing a concert series in Toledo. I have 12 private students in composition and bassoon performance. Through ADJ•ective, we’ve been able to work with great venues in Toledo, like the Gathered and LeSo Galleries, and the Ohio Theatre. 

What current projects are you working on?

I am finishing a book on extended techniques for the bassoon, specifically, multiphonics, or the ability to play more than one note on an instrument not built to do so. I have worked with 21 bassoonists from around the country to create the most reliable resource ever published and we’re getting very close to releasing it! 

I’m also finishing several compositions. One is a commission for the Toledo Symphony Youth Orchestra made possible by a Women’s Philharmonic Advocacy Grant. The other is for the local trio Aurea Silva, which consists of flautist Brandy Hudelson, the Toledo Symphony’s principal bassoonist Gareth Thomas, and their trio partner, pianist David Gilliland. They recently performed on WGTE: http://www.wgte.org/wgte/listen/item.asp?item_id=16030

What advantages does being in Northwest Ohio/Toledo offer your efforts?

It’s so easy to get to know people and places! I’ve only been working Toledo for a few years but I feel really connected and not just to the classical music scene, but to the visual arts, businesses, and places that make what I do interesting. I now feel like I can help new musicians in the area blaze their own path.

Tell us about one of your greatest successes.

A few years ago I wrote a 45-minute opera and was able to stage a performance. It was so much work, but also a lot of fun. Opera has always appealed to me because it brings together all of the visual and performance arts, with sets, costumes, composers, singers, orchestra musicians, and crew all working together to create something that couldn't exist without a single one of these elements. My opera was for five singers and a small orchestra. I have plans for another similar sized production, and in the long-term future, a full length opera with full orchestra! 

Tell us who or what gives you inspiration?

My favorite authors are Ian McEwan and Irene Nemirovsky. Their books and short stories have been a huge influence over my writing over the past few years. McEwan has some of the smoothest transitions from present thought to memories I have ever read, and Nemiovsky has amazingly deliberate descriptions setting the mood of her works. I think that those specific techniques can be applied to music and I have tried to incorporate them into my recent works. 

Tell us about your background.

I grew up in Central New York (5 and a half hours away from NYC) where I started playing the bassoon at age 12 and composing at age 16. I went to SUNY Fredonia in Western NY for my undergraduate degree in Music Composition where I met the love of my life and fellow composer, Andrew Martin Smith. We got engaged shortly before moving to Bowling Green together to study for our music composition Master’s degrees at BGSU. While I was there I spent so much time playing the bassoon they gave me a second Master's. Just kidding, I had to take some extra course work too, but I had already done most of the performance credits I needed, so it only took one extra year instead of two. Somewhere in the middle of those degrees I married Andrew in my favorite place in the world, Alexandria Bay, NY. On Halloween 2012, we adopted a cat named Coda (a musical term for the structural element of a composition that brings the piece, and this sentence, to a close).  

Do you have a motto or favorite quote you try to live by?

"Aut viam inveniam aut faciam"  ("I shall either find a way or make one.")

Favorite place for local culture?

Summer Artwalks! 

Toledo’s “best kept secret” is . . .

Maumee Bay Brewery's Olive Burger Sliders!

My favorite place to chill locally is . . . 

St. Clair Street between Washington and LaFayette. There are always fun people and fantastic lattés. 

My favorite natural space in the Toledo area is . . . 

I love the sculpture garden at the TMA and all of the huge trees around the glass pavilion, especially in the fall; it reminds me of Upstate New York.

When I’m not working hard, I can always be found at . . . 

Home, cooking a huge meal for friends

If you could change anything about the current landscape for creative, progressive people . . .

I would have a few artists sponsored by every city in the country to freely create new works, and represent the region's artistic voice.

Any exciting collaborations (past or present) you would like to tell us about?

I'm really looking forward to collaborations that stem from my research! I have worked with a few composers on bassoon pieces, but I'm very excited to see what they can do with all of the new material. 

Name one person (living or deceased) who you would love to collaborate with.

T.S. Eliot. It's very difficult to get permission to set his words to music, but they are so fantastically rhythmic! I would love to write a song with him.

Name a CD, book or website you can’t live without. 

The Dictionary of Imaginary Places by Alberto Manguel and Gianni Guadalupi. It has over 1,200 entries of places from fiction literature. My favorite is Monster’s Park in Alexandria, Egypt, where, according to the entry, the monsters of the Mediterranean were permanently scared back into the sea by sculptures of their own likenesses. 

3 words that best describe me or my work are . . .

Gregarious, driven, deliberate. 

Give us 5 Desert Island Album picks.

The Civil Wars - Self-Titled

Florence & The Machine - Ceremonials

Leonard Bernstein conducting Brahms 4 with the New York Philharmonic

Sophia Gubaidulina (my all time favorite composer) - Offertorium: Hommage à T.S. Eliot

Stephen Sondheim - Into the Woods

My biggest vice is . . .

I act too quickly, sometimes rashly, on big decisions without considering the financial ramifications. Oops!

I’d like to see more _________ in Toledo.

Classical chamber music concerts. 

What’s the last dream you recall having?

I was on vacation on the St. Lawrence River in Upstate NY. 

The last lyric that moved me was . . .

Do not put your faith in a cape and a hood

They will not protect you the way that they should

And take extra care with strangers, even flowers have their dangers

And though scary is exciting, nice is different than good.

~Red Riding Hood, Into the Woods by Stephen Sondheim

One movie character I identify with is . . . 

I don't know about movies, but someone recently said I remind them of Olivia Pope from Scandal, and I love that idea. She is able to shelve her personal issues to creatively solve problems. Consider it handled!

The best gift I’ve ever received was . . .

The biography, scores, and CD's of my favorite composer, Sophia Gubaidulina. My husband had to order the scores 6 months early to get them in time, since they were coming from Germany. 

My most inspiring moment was/is . . . 

Standing in front of Olitski's Lives of Angels at the TMA last year after getting bad news. I gave notice at my job three days later to refocus on composing, so I could come close to creating that kind of beauty someday.

I want my last meal to be…

An entire Concord grape pie. 


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