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Samantha Pollack

Director of Programming
Washington Performing Arts - Washington, DC

Named a “Rising Star in Classical Presenting” by Musical America, Samantha Pollack is the Director of Programming at Washington Performing Arts (WPA) in Washington, D.C., programming over sixty performances in a dozen venues throughout the D.C. region each season in the genres of classical (orchestral, chamber, and recital), jazz, global music, modern dance, and gospel.

What's an emerging opportunity that can be developed in the classical music performance world / how can classical music expand its impact in the present moment?

Composers have been writing for specific artists since the dawn of time, and maybe it’s not in any greater volume now, but it FEELS like I am hearing more of commissions by instrumentalists from friends who are composers. I love that mix of personal and professional symbiosis, and how it just always seems obvious when a piece has been written for someone they know. This is a way to expand repertoire, to expand networks, and to provide a compelling story behind a piece.

How does your institution reflect the values of the AVANT initiative in general, and/or the IMPACT PERFORMANCE competition in particular?

Now more than ever, audiences are turning to artists not simply for technical dazzle, but to see their humanity within their art. There’s a hunger by audiences to know more about an artist’s thought process and how they’re affected by external influences in a way which is authentic as opposed to purely thematic.

What would you say to an artist considering applying to the IMPACT PERFORMANCE innovation competition?

In these surreal times, every artist is thinking beyond the stage, considering their impact and considering what makes their art unique. Through all of the current struggles, remember the “why/what”: WHY am I sharing my art with the world, WHY should audiences feel compelled to tune in, WHAT do I want audience members to remember?