On the Couch with Courtenay Cleary

Courtenay-Cleary-photo-Pia-JohnsonWho is Courtenay Cleary?
I’m a violinist originally from Brisbane who has travelled the world studying and performing, and has a great enthusiasm for wine and cheese. I love trying new creative activities, most recently, watercolour painting. I try to befriend every furry animal I pass on the street and am absolutely obsessed with my cat, Bagel.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
Nothing! I absolutely love where I’m at right now. I try to embrace every curve ball that comes my way and I’m always up for a challenge. I’m grateful that all my experiences, negative or positive, have led to where I am now. I can’t imagine a life without something as emotionally embracing as being a musician. However, if I wasn’t a violinist or for some reason had to change career path, I think I’d like to work with animals.

Who inspires you and why?
My friends inspire me. They’re always working on innovative, artistic projects that inspire me to push my boundaries as an artist. Seeing my friends develop unique ideas inspires me to dig deeper and explore my own artistic vision.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
There’s so much to be said through music, especially instrumental music. The absence of words allows the listener to form their own narrative and connect with the music on a unique level. Allowing human beings to experience their own feelings and emotions in this way is surely making some difference in the world.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Until March this year I’d been living overseas since 2015, so my favourite holiday destination was actually my hometown, Brisbane. Although I’ve been living here again for about six months and I’m working quite a lot, it still feels a bit like I’m on holiday which is super!

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
This is a tricky one. Brisbane has so many fantastic spots! Definitely Mount Coot-tha lookout, because no one believes how many trees are really in Brisbane until you see it from above. Also, the Walrus Club – a speakeasy hidden on Coronation Drive. They have great cocktails, live jazz, and an intimate, classy atmosphere.

What are you currently reading?
The Master and Margarita by Bulgakov. I’m reading this book for the second time now, although this time it’s taking me substation ally longer to finish.

What are you currently listening to?
Ariana Grande. Always. I absolutely love her to bits. I know it’s somewhat controversial for a classical musician to love pop music, but she is such an incredible singer! Her confidence is inspiring and her technique is pristine.

Happiness is?
Sharing wine and cheese with people you love.

What does the future hold for you?
Hopefully a lot more opportunities to share some of the greatest repertoire with audiences all over the world. I love working with other artists and hope to pursue some projects exploring interdisciplinary collaboration.


Courtenay will make her solo QPAC debut on the Concert Hall stage as part of the QPAC Unlocked series on 11 & 12 September 2020. For more information, visit: www.qpac.com.au for details.

Image: Courtenay Cleary – photo by Pia Johnson

Comments are closed.