Sam Pilafian is perhaps best known as a founding member of the internationally renowned Empire Brass Quintet. He has also recorded and performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestra of St. Luke's, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Lionel Hampton, and Pink Floyd. As a solo jazz artist, Sam has recorded fifteen CDs. He is also a member of the large brass ensemble Summit Brass. Solo recital and concerto performances during recent seasons have taken him to Canada, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Japan, Italy, Austria, Germany and England. As an arranger, composer and recording producer, Sam has recently produced and written for Joseph Alessi (New York Philharmonic), the Boston Brass, the Brass Band of Battle Creek, the Academy (of Drum Corp International), and the United States Air Force Band. Sam is the coauthor of the best selling pedagogy texts “Breathing Gym” and “Brass Gym”
In 1967, Sam won the concerto competition at the National Music Camp in Interlochen, Michigan, becoming only the second tubist in over fifty years to do so. He subsequently won fellowships at Dartmouth College and the Tanglewood Music Center. While at Tanglewood he was invited by Leonard Bernstein to perform on-stage in the world premiere of Bernstein's MASS, which opened the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He is currently Professor of Music at Arizona State University, having previously served for twenty years on the faculties of Boston University and their summer Tanglewood Institute. Sam has won the Walter Naumburg Chamber Music Award, the Harvard Music Association Prize, the University of Miami's Distinguished Alumni Award, the Brevard Music Center Distinguished Alumni Award, the Robert Trotter Annual Visiting Professorship at the University of Oregon and the annual Outstanding Teacher Award for the College of Fine Arts, Arizona State University. As a past president and chairman of the board of the International Tuba Euphonium Association, Sam now serves on its board of directors.