Umberto Clerici named Chief Conductor of Queensland Symphony Orchestra from 2023
Media Release ·
Photo by Jay Patel
Queensland Symphony Orchestra (QSO) has today announced its new Chief Conductor: Umberto Clerici.
As of today, Maestro Clerici is appointed as Chief Conductor Designate and will become Chief Conductor on 1 January 2023 for a three-year term.
After a career spanning more than 20 years as a gifted cello soloist, chamber and orchestral musician, Maestro Clerici moved on from his role of Principal Cello of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in 2021 to focus on his rapidly acclaimed conducting career. Maestro Clerici will take over the baton from Johannes Fritzsch, one of Australia’s top international conductors and a musical leader credited with building QSO into the world-class orchestra it is today.
In making the announcement, QSO Acting Chair Rod Pilbeam said Maestro Clerici had already led QSO in four major concerts in 2021 including the Season Closing Gala, each to wonderful reviews. His first performances as Chief Conductor Designate will be next month’s Maestro Series featuring Mahler’s 1st Symphony and with soloist Daniel Müller-Schott performing Elgar’s Cello Concerto, before returning in July for the Fantasy and Folklore program.
“Maestro Umberto Clerici will become Chief Conductor in 2023, bringing a deep and rich understanding of music as both a musician and a conductor to the QSO podium,” he said.
“As one of Queensland’s largest performing arts organisations, QSO demands an inclusive and visionary musical leader. We could not be more thrilled with this appointment, especially given Maestro Clerici has already led the Orchestra to standing ovations in the Concert Hall and has an intimate understanding of our commitment to share the power of music across all corners of the state.”
Of his appointment, Clerici says, “I’m not just honoured to share the QSO Chief Conductor’s title with great musicians but I’m also grateful to them for helping create, in the past 75 years, the QSO of today.”
“My path to the podium came after 20 years as a cellist, both as soloist and orchestral, which means that I have shared the stage with a wide variety of conductors for many years, and in many parts of the world. This creates not only a different perspective on what the role of the conductor is for the musicians, but have also given me the opportunity to explore repertoire from inside the orchestra.”
“We have recently bought a home in Brisbane, and I look forward to experiencing everything Brisbane and Queensland has to offer. I am particularly impressed by the young vibe and the sense of expansion that is happening here. Coming from Torino, a city which hosted a Winter Olympics, I also know first-hand the spark an event of that magnitude injects into a community, so I am very excited to be arriving in Queensland and at QSO in this moment in history.”
Maestro Clerici joins a roll call of extraordinary conductors who have led QSO over 75 years including John Farnsworth Hall, Rudolf Pekarek, Stanford Robinson, Ezra Rachlin, Patrick Thomas, Vanco Cavdarski, Werner Andreas Albert, Muhai Tang, Michael Christie, Alondra de la Parra, and Johannes Fritzsch.
Maestro Fritzsch will continue as Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor until the end of the 2022 season, assume Principal Guest Conductor responsibilities in 2023, and resume the position of Conductor Laureate in 2024.
The appointment comes just four weeks after QSO named one of the country’s leading and most exciting arts professionals in Yarmila Alfonzetti as Chief Executive.
Over 75 years QSO has grown to become Queensland’s largest performing arts organisation, home to 107 musicians and arts workers who create and deliver unique musical experiences across the huge state, ensuring all Queenslanders can experience the power of live music.
ABOUT MAESTRO UMBERTO CLERICI
Umberto began his musical journey on the cello at the age of five. “My mother was very keen that my younger brother and I learn and instrument so she took us to the Suzuki school in my hometown of Torino. We had a cello and a violin demonstrated for us and I chose cello because at the time I thought it sounded less like a cat in a washing machine than the violin! The rest, as they say, is history.”
He continued studying with Mario Brunello, David Géringas and Julius Berger. He received several international prizes including the Janigro Competition in Zagreb, the Rostropovich in Paris and, in 2011, the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow making him only the second Italian cellist ever being honoured in the history of the prize, after Mario Brunello.
As a cello soloist, Umberto debuted at the age of 17 performing Haydn’s D major cello concerto in Japan and has since appeared with an array of renowned orchestras internationally including the Philarmonia Wien, St. Petersburg Academic Philharmonic, Russian State Orchestra of Moscow, "Pomeriggi Musicali” (Milan) and Zagreb Philharmonic. After four years as the Principal Cello of the Teatro Regio di Torino, Umberto became Principal Cello of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra from 2014 - 2020.
It was in Sydney in 2018 that Umberto made his conducting debut with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra at the Sydney Opera House. Following a rapid trajectory of conducting engagements in Australia, Umberto has since been in high demand with the major symphony orchestras throughout Australia and New Zealand. As a conductor, highlights include several returns to the Sydney Symphony and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras. Umberto recently made his debut with the West Australian and Adelaide Symphony Orchestras and looks forward to making his debuts with the New Zealand and Dunedin Symphony Orchestras later in 2022.