Samson Setu is a student at The University of Auckland studying towards a bachelor of music, majoring in Classical Singing. He is currently under the tutelage of Dr. Te Oti Rakena.
Samson is a proud Samoan, born and raised in South Auckland and a staunch Dilworth old boy. Music has always been a part of Samson’s life. Samson grew up in an A.O.G church where his grandfather was a pastor. He was surrounded by music in through church and through his culture. However, it wasn’t until Samson was 17 years old that he first encountered classical music. Claire Caldwell, musical director at Dilworth School, discovered his voice and invited him to join the choir. He had never sung any classical music before and it didn’t take long before the young bass familiarised himself with the foreign art form. Rugby was Samson’s first love and in his final year of school, singing began to overtake his dreams of playing professional rugby. An opportunity to sing for the New Zealand Secondary Students Choir reassured Samson’s aspirations of becoming a professional opera singer and the rugby dream began to fade.
Part of Samson’s degree was completed in Dunedin, at the University of Otago. There, he began his classical singing journey with the wonderful Isabel Cunningham. She retired after a year into his degree. Nonetheless, he remained at the University to continue his singing endeavours with Frances Wilson. In 2015 Samson transferred to Auckland University to complete his degree. He is currently in the final stages of completing his degree in Auckland and plays rugby for Bombay.
Being a member of the New Zealand Secondary Students Choir was one of Samson’s proudest moments as a young singer. In 2012 this group toured to South Africa and Samson was fortunate enough to be a cultural leader. In 2011 Samson was awarded the performer of the year at Dilworth School and was the head chorister. In 2010 Samson was part of an opera chorus for La Clemenza Di Tito. Other ensemble groups Samson is affiliated with are, 4 Shades and SOTO VOCE. Samson has taken part in numerous master classes run by Martin Snell and they have been key in Samson’s development as a singer.
Most recently, Samson won first place at the annual Ronald Dellow competition which is hosted by Auckland’s, Clef Club. Not only was he the first place winner, he was also the recipient of the people’s choice award. A few months before this Samson won multiple classes at the annual South Auckland Performing Arts Competition (SAPAC) and the main prize to represent South Auckland at the National Finale (PACANZ). Samson was a participant in the Lexus Song Quest masterclass with world renowned soprano, Yvonne Kenny. This was a great moment for Samson as he got to learn from one of the world’s best.
Dreams of playing professional rugby are still alive for Samson. His ultimate goal is to sing opera on the world’s biggest opera stages one day.