Sam Spear is a jazz woodwind instrumentalist and composer based in Boston, MA. She is a master's student at New England Conservatory majoring in Jazz Performance. Spear studies saxophone with Jerry Bergonzi and composition with Ken Schaphorst. She is a member of the New England Conservatory Jazz Orchestra.
Spear performs on alto and soprano saxophones, clarinet, and flute. She has recently played with Dave Holland, George Schuller, Luciana Souza, Antonio Sanchez, John Hollenbeck, Ayn Inserto, Andy Milne, and Samuel Torres, to name a few.
As a composer, Spear’s ensemble of choice is jazz orchestra. She recently premiered four new works with her own orchestra. Her four-part piece Survivor’s Suite was awarded the 2019 Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble Prize.
Spear has also been a rising voice for gender equality in the jazz community. She presented her lecture Mary Lou Williams in the Age of #MeToo at the 2019 IAWM and FT&M15 joint conference. Her advocacy work has been featured in Downbeat Magazine’s February 2019 issue and in a news story on Boston’s local NPR station, WBUR. Spear co-founded Women in Jazz Collective, a student-run organization at Berklee College of Music with the mission of empowering female and non-binary jazz musicians.
Spear graduated from Berklee College of Music in 2019, with a double major in Performance and Jazz Composition. At Berklee, Spear was awarded a Presidential Scholarship (2015-2019), the Jazz Composition Achievement Award (2017), the Woodwind Department Achievement Award (2019), and the Toshiko Akiyoshi Award (2019). She was a member of the prestigious Berklee Concert Jazz Orchestra directed by Greg Hopkins. During her time at Berklee, Spear studied saxophone with Shannon LeClaire, Jim Odgren, and George Garzone. She has studied composition with Ayn Inserto, Greg Hopkins, and Bob Pilkington.