As part of our #afemalecomposerday campaign marking International Women's Day, we highlight the life and work of composer Samantha Fernando. 

Samantha Fernando- Composing allows me to be creative without having to struggle with stage fright.”

An award-winning composer and lecturer in composition, Samantha Fernando’s works have been commissioned globally, and performed by numerous high-profile ensembles. We spoke to Samantha about how she began her career, and the challenges she has faced balancing motherhood with a freelance career- take a look here:   

What was your route into composing?

Music was a big part of my life from childhood but I didn’t start composing until relatively late on. I began when I was an undergraduate music student and I found it to be a great fit for me creatively. I am quite introverted and performance had always been incredibly daunting. Composing allows me to be creative without having to struggle with stage fright. However, as my career has progressed I have had to do more and more things that require me to be public facing, so I have had to find ways to manage my nerves and acquire a confident exterior in these situations.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

A multitude of places; I enjoy responding to other art forms, in particular the written word. The myriad twists and turns of the creative process are all the more unexpected and exciting when I have collaborated with other artists. The sum is almost always greater than the parts.

Tell us a bit about your experiences as a female composer; have you faced any challenges?

I have recently had a baby and like so many women, I have found it challenging to juggle the demands of motherhood with my work. Composing is a freelance career and maternity leave wasn’t really an option. Or I didn’t feel able to say no to some wonderful opportunities so I have had to find a way of balancing work and a baby.

Three things I have learnt so far (4 months in!):

  1. Time efficiency is imperative
  2. Compromise is okay (and necessary)
  3. I can function on much less than the sacred 8 hours of sleep per night


Samantha Fernando's British Music Collection profile can be found online here.

Photo credits: Marianne Chua


Composer Profile: Samantha Fernando