Real lives: Sam’s ‘startling’ musical talent proved inspiration

Sam Hutchings' expression betrays the impish humour friends loved

Sam Hutchings' expression betrays the impish humour friends loved

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Talented pianist Sam Hutchings has died suddenly, aged 29.

Sam, who worked as a concerts manager at Edinburgh’s Queen’s Hall, was educated at Edinburgh Academy and spent the majority of his life in the Capital, except for a short stint in England while attending university at Oxford.

Sam’s first-class honours degree in music from Christ Church College set the stage for his career.

After returning to Edinburgh, he was drafted into a Festival performance at 12 hours’ notice.

During a production of Anton Chekov’s the Seagull, Sam sat offstage and provided the piano music for actor Cillian Murphy, playing Konstantin, to mime.

Sam later attended the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, where he gained a diploma in piano accompaniment and worked as a general assessor for the junior conservatoire.

In 2004, he became the concert manager at the Queen’s Hall, a position he held until 2011. He looked after artists involved in some 150 concerts.

He became rehearsal pianist to the Edinburgh Festival Chorus in 2006, forming a celebrated double act in 2007 with chorusmaster Christopher Bell which they reprised for the National Youth Choir of Scotland (NYCoS) many times.

In June this year, he led Edinburgh International Festival’s ground-breaking Love in a Library project both as musical director and pianist.

He was closely associated with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, fulfilling the role of rehearsal pianist for the RSNO Chorus and RSNO Junior Chorus, as well as occasionally performing as an orchestral pianist with the RSNO itself.

In a statement released by the Scottish Music Centre, Sam’s colleagues said: “He was very self-effacing. His attention to detail was remarkable – frequently scrutinising contemporary scores to check for errors and inconsistencies – and his technical skill [was] sometimes startling. Those of us who knew Sam realised that behind the almost cherubic expression there lurked a splendidly impish sense of humour.

“Who else would have had an e-mail address made up of a composer and his date of birth? Especially when that composer was [the sometimes scandalous 19th century Russian-born Alexander] Scriabin – a
man who one feels the Edinburgh Academy might not entirely have approved of. Above all, Sam was just a joy to be with – a truly wonderful colleague and great company when off duty.

“One only has to look at the expressions of disbelieving grief his sudden death has elicited to realise the huge impact this gentle, shy man had on those he touched. Music will have to live with the pain of a Sam Hutchings-shaped hole. Sam was just special.”