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2020 Artist in Focus: Umberto Clerici

Umberto Clerici, CSO 2019 Artist in Focus

If I have to think about the two words that came to mind when Nicholas asked me to be CSO’s Artist in Focus for 2020, they were honoured and excited.

After playing two of my favourite cello concertos, Schumann’s in 2017 and the iconic Elgar concerto in 2019, I didn’t expect CSO and its audience would want to hear more from me!

So, for 2020 I will aim to enlarge the horizons of my artistic contribution, continuing the chronological path of cello concertos with the Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1, composed in 1959. This is surprisingly easy to listen to, but maintains all the characteristics of colour, drama and sarcasm typical of his music, plus a huge cello cadenza which entirely dominates the third movement to become almost a solo recital by itself.

For the Australian Series, Prof Matthew Hindson AM and I designed a very interesting program featuring three of the most established Australian composers, juxtaposed with two emerging young artists — from the popular Inner World by Carl Vine (performed all over the globe more than 110 times, a record!) to the crazily difficult Eleven Oblique Strategies by Brett Dean (which I premiered in Australia a couple of years ago). We will also premiere a new work by Anne Boyd AM especially composed for this concert, alongside new works by two of Australia’s bravest emerging composers, Harry Sdraulig and the forthcoming winner of the 2019 Sue W Chamber Music Composition Prize.

I look forward to curating the Recital Series concert, especially for the incoming 2020 Kingsland Resident Artists.

Last, but not least, I’ll have the pleasure of conducting the CSO for the Canberra Weekly Classic Afternoon concert as part of my musical evolution as a conductor. The program is inspired by my Italian roots, beginning with the Antiche Danze ed Arie by Respighi (whose compositions are inspired by old tunes from Renaissance times). Then I’ll have the honour to collaborate with the wonderful Natalie Chee, one of Australia’s most renowned violinists, who will play Mozart’s Fourth Violin Concerto, with its strong Italianate DNA. We will end the program with the sunny and spirited Mendelssohn Symphony No. 4 titled The Italian, a true virtuosic piece that will give the CSO every opportunity to shine.


Umberto Clerici
2020 Artist in Focus

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