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Sounds of Symphony: Megan Sampling

Laura Peppas

When Megan Pampling won a drawing competition in high school, her arts teacher gave her an unexpected gift.

Instead of arts supplies, Megan received a CD of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s symphony Scheherazade, after the teacher sensed her knack for classical music.

“I listened to it and was just in awe of the sound and the power of the orchestra, as it was unlike what I’d heard before,” Megan says.

It turns out the teacher was right on the ball – Megan was so captivated by the sounds of the symphony, she was inspired to learn to play the oboe.

“The oboe has a very strong presence in this symphony – it’s a fascinating sound, because it can be gentle and it can also be strident and aggressive,” Megan says.

“When I first heard it I thought, ‘I want to be in an orchestra.'”

After high school Megan studied a bachelor of music at the prestigious Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne, before travelling to Switzerland for further studies.

Since 2006 she has been the principal oboist for the Canberra Symphony Orchestra, and next week she will be taken back to where it all began, when the orchestra performs Scheherazade as part of the Llewellyn Series/02, Tchaikovsky, on 6 and 7 May.

The series will also include performances of Matthew Hindson’s Boom Box and Tchaikovsky’s piano concerto 1, with famed Melbourne pianist Hoang Pham.

The story of Scheherazade is a dramatic one: the Sultan Schariar, convinced that all women are false and faithless, vows to put to death each of his wives after the first nuptial night.

However, one of the wives, the Sultana Scheherazade, saves her life by entertaining her lord with fascinating tales for a thousand and one nights. The Sultan, consumed with curiosity, postponed from day to day the execution of his wife, and finally repudiates his bloody vow entirely.

“I think the thing about this storyline that really appealed to me is its really dramatic – it tells a really exotic and fascinating story, and it’s gripping from the start,” says Megan.

“I also think its a really beautiful symphony because many of the instruments have a chance to give their voice to it, to add to the drama.”

Megan says the orchestra usually start rehearsals a week before each series.

“It’s a lot of music to learn in a short space of time, but we get through,” she says.

“Playing in the orchestra has been wonderful, I really enjoy it because it’s such a core group of musicians in there and we’re a bit like a family – it’s nice that we can grow together.”

The essentials

What: Canberra Symphony Orchestra Llewellyn Series: Tchaikovsky
When: Wednesday 6 May 2015 at 7.30pm or Thursday 7 May 2015 at 7.30pm
Where: Llewellyn Hall, Australian National University
Web: For more information click CSO’s Llewellyn Series: Tchaikovsky


Laura Peppas

Laura Peppas is HerCanberra's senior journalist and communications manager and is the Editor of Unveiled, HerCanberra's wedding magazine. She is enjoying uncovering all that Canberra has to offer, meeting some intriguing locals and working with a pretty awesome bunch of women. Laura has lived in Canberra for most of her life and when she's not writing fervently she enjoys pursuing her passion for travel, reading, online shopping and chai tea. More about the Author