As one of America's leading concert saxophonists, John Sampen is particularly recognized as a distinguished artist in contemporary literature. He has commissioned over one hundred new works, including compositions by Adler, Babbitt, Bolcom, Cage, Rzewski, Rands and Shrude and has premiered saxophone versions of music by Lutosławski, Stockhausen and Tower.
In 1970, Sampen was recitalist and certificate winner at the prestigious International Geneva Concours in Switzerland. He has soloed with ensembles from all over the world, including the Nürnberg Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Internazionale d'Italy, New Mexico Symphony and Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble.
As recipient of NEA and Meet the Composer grants, John Sampen has been involved with commissions and premieres of new music by Albright, Babbitt, Martino and Subotnick. His London premiere of Subotnick's “In Two Worlds” with the Electric Symphony featured him as the first classical performer to solo on Yamaha's WX7 Wind Controller. The performance inspired an English critic to write of "the excellence, the musicianship and the total involvement of John Sampen... tremendous passion and eloquence."
Sampen has recorded with Belgian and Swiss National Radio and is represented on the Orion, CRI, Albany, AMP and Capstone record labels. A clinician for the Conn-Selmer Company, he has presented masterclasses at important universities and conservatories throughout Europe, Asia and North America. In addition to contemporary literature, Sampen regularly performs traditional saxophone repertoire in recital with pianist/composer Marilyn Shrude. He holds degrees from Northwestern University and has studied with Frederick Hemke, Donald Sinta and Larry Teal. Dr. Sampen is a Distinguished Artist Professor at Bowling Green State University and is Past President of the North American Saxophone Alliance.