On the Couch with Ian Cleworth

Ian Cleworth Arts Review On the CouchWho is Ian Cleworth?
Married, father of two boys… young men, actually, as I’m a grandfather-to-be sometime in the next 2 or 3 weeks! Plus, musician, composer, teacher, and Artistic Director of Taikoz – the Sydney-based performing ensemble with taiko and shakuhachi at its heart – and 20 years old this year!

What would you do differently to what you do now?
Music is such a part of who I am that I can’t imagine doing anything else, to be honest.

Who inspires you and why?
I draw a lot of inspiration from those I work with closely, and as I spend a lot of time with such beautiful collaborators I have a pretty constant source of inspiration. In the taiko world, there is a group of incredible players from the legendary 1970s Japanese taiko group Ondekoza who are still going strong in their 60s… our own shakuhachi Grand Master Riley Lee was a part of this group back in the day, too. They play with as much passion, commitment and creativity as they did in their 20s, which inspires me to keep going, especially when the going gets tough.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I’ve had the joys, privileges and spiritual and artistic sustenance of working with artists from other cultures, countries, disciplines and backgrounds, and I appreciate the power that art, in its many forms, can bring. And while I don’t pretend that my music can change the world, I think that education in the arts is imperative. I would love to see arts teachers in our schools given more support, resources and respect.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Our family has been going to Hawks’ Nest for over 20 years, and while I love travelling, there’s nothing like the aqua clear waters and pristine white sand of that beautiful part of the world.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
Taikoz’s international guest artists always receive the Manly ferry treatment. On a bright, sunny day, it’s a voyage that can’t be beat!

What are you currently reading?
Bolshoi Confidential. While I’m not really a classical ballet fan, Simon Morrison’s book gives a deep insight into the rich history of that venerated institution and puts it into the context of the wider political landscape of all eras… fascinating!

What are you currently listening to?
Saxophonist Chris Potter’s Imaginary Cities on ECM. I’ve always really dug musicians who explore ideas across musical genres, cultures and contexts, and this recent album is very sophisticated… it sounds great, too!

Happiness is?
Arriving home after a hard day’s rehearsal (which could also be a definition of happiness) and sharing a meal with family and friends.

What does the future hold for you?
As above –  grandpa-hood!

Australia’s leading taiko drumming ensemble Taikoz will present a very special concert, Taikoz 20: Land-Sea-Sky-Home in celebration of an incredible 20 years of music making and performance at Sydney’s City Recital Hall on Saturday 21 October 2017. For more information, visit: www.taikoz.com for details.

Image: Ian Cleworth (supplied)