News - 02 Aug 2022

Introducing 'Crouching Tiger' conductor, Umberto Clerici

I’m very excited I’m coming back to the DSO, this time in the role of conductor (in 2015 I was the soloist for Elgar’s Cello Concerto). Covid changed a lot in everyone’s lives, and for me it was a time of deep reflection and development.

Before Covid, I was the Principal Cello of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and now, two years later, I am the Chief Conductor of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. And for many months my cello has not been touched…

This time, I’ll be in Dunedin collaborating with another cellist, Ashley Brown, in the 'Crouching Tiger Concerto'. This work was originally a film score for a large orchestra, and it was then reduced to a score for chamber orchestra. I’m really happy we will be exploring this particular concerto as it’s one that I never played myself, so I’m very much looking forward to shaping it together with Ashley.

The first piece on the programme was composed in 1673 by a visionary violinist called Heinrich Biber. It’s a reflection on war and may have been composed for a carnival pantomime. This work uses several devices that are still considered ‘modern’, even today: hitting the strings with the wood of the bow; placing paper under the strings of the basses so they imitate a snare drum; and perhaps most shocking of all, the simultaneous rendering of eight folk songs in different keys and time signatures to depict drunken soldiers. I like to pair this overture with a modern concerto because, after 350 years, it still sounds avant garde. Imagine the reaction in 1673!

As for Beethoven’s 4th Symphony, well… It is also a very mysterious and modern-sounding work, with its opening inspired by the ‘Chaos’ section of Haydn’s ‘Creation’.

Who says that classical music concerts are boring?!

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