On the Couch with Umberto Clerici

Queensland Symphony Orchestra Umberto ClericiWho is Umberto Clerici?
A steward of classical music, probably born in the wrong era.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
I am lucky enough to have been able to pursue the career I wanted and end up in the right profession. I distinctly remember that I decided to be a cellist when I was 7 years old. If I had gone into the family business, I would have ended up as a lawyer like my father, my mother, my grandparents and great grandparents.

Who inspires you and why?
My wife. Not only for her important job but because I am inspired by people who put integrity in front of their own ambition, who can make a tangible difference for the environment around them without thinking of a direct return for themselves.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Music is a universal language that creates a strong and positive connection between individuals who are open to receive it. Race, gender, sexual preferences, colour: art levels all of us to the same ground. If we would focus more on that, treasure the differences and enable dialogue, probably the world would be a better and fairer place.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Puglia. We went on our honeymoon, because one of grandmothers hails from there. Aside from being spectacularly beautiful, it is about still a bit untouched by tourism: at least as much it is possible in Italy.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
If in Brisbane it can only be Southbank, for a swim and a spin on the wheel, all in the heart of the amazing arts precinct. When in Sydney the harbour. Irrespective of which, there would also be a symphony.

What are you currently reading?
The Tempest, Shakespeare’s last play. John Bell and I are creating a special program together for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra this May, and he has me doing my homework!

What are you currently listening to?
I am exploring music by Radiohead. Technically this is also homework, for Queensland Symphony Orchestra because in November we play a piece in our Up Close series written by their guitarist and keyboardist, Johnny Greenwood called 48 responses to Polymorphia.

Happiness is?
Sharing a mango Weiss bar with my dog Pablo – he’s addicted and because it is technically a combination between a sorbet and a gelato, it qualifies as being honorarily Italian too.

What does the future hold for you?
A very busy schedule of concerts, increasingly overseas. Orchestras plan their seasons many years in advance so there’s no real mystery to my diary for years to come. Travelling constantly is very taxing but I always look forward to meeting new orchestras and audiences and visiting new places.

Umberto is the Chief Conductor of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra – who leads the 2024 Maestro Season. For more information, visit: www.qso.com.au for details.

Image: Umberto Clerici (supplied)