Born in Turin in 1981, Umberto Clerici began the study of cello in his town at the age of five at the Suzuki School with Antonio Mosca, with which he graduated at the Conservatory “G. Verdi” of Turin.
Having attended courses of some of the most important contemporary cellists, including Mario Brunello, David Gèringas and Steven Isserlis, in 2007 he earnt the Soloist Diploma from the Hochschule für Musik Nürnberg-Augsburg, studying with Julius Berger.
Umberto debuted at the age of 17, playing Haydn’s D Major cello concerto in Japan, and from 2002 began a fully-fledged solo career, winning the National Association I.C.O competition in Rome, which led him to perform in the concert seasons of 12 major Italian orchestras. Later he played with an array of renowned orchestras, including St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Brighton Philharmonic, Russian State Orchestra of Moscow, Orchestra da Camera di Mantova, Philharmonia Wien, “I Pomeriggi Musicali” (Milan), Zagreb Philharmonic, ORT-Orchestra della Toscana (Florence), Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto, Haydn Orchester di Trento e Bolzano, State Orchestras of Istanbul and Ankara. His orchestral performances have been alongside conductors such as Aldo Ceccato, Alexander Dmitriev, Lu Jia, Christoph Poppen, Dmitry Sitkovetsky, Ola Rudner, Barry Wordsworth and Peter-Lukas Graf.
Umberto’s accolades include awards in a number of significant international competitions, such as the “Janigro” in Zagreb and the “Rostropovich” in Paris. Umberto is the only Italian cellist other than Mario Brunello, to have won a prize at the renowned “Tchaikovsky Competition” in Moscow.
Umberto has performed at some of the most prestigious concert halls including Carnegie Hall in New York, Musik Verein in Vienna, the great Shostakovich Hall of St. Petersburg and Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome. In 2003 he debuted at the Salzburg Festival and in 2012 he performed Tchaikovsky’s “Rococo variations” with the Orchestra of the Teatro Regio in Turin conducted by Valery Gergiev.
He has recorded the Saint-Saëns cello Concerto for the RS (Real Sound) label and in 2006 he released a solo CD with the “Amadeus” label, the most important italian magazine for classical music, recording all the Tchaikovsky’s compositions for cello and orchestra and Shostakovich Concerto No. 1.
Umberto has received the prestigious 2003 “Pentagramma d’oro” of the “Galileo 2000 Award” (together with the famous violinist Uto Ughi and Nobel Peace Laureate Shimon Peres) in Florence, the “Mozarteum Prize” in Salzburg, the “Pressenda Award 2005” for best young soloist of the year, and the “Scanno Prize 2007”.
Umberto has always pursued a keen interest in chamber music: as part of the Trio of Turin from 2001 to 2013, and also playing with artists such as Julius Berger, Mario Brunello, Itamar Golan, Sergej Krilov, Luis Lortie e Enrico Pace. He has a particular fondness for unusual chamber music projects, to which he devotes himself in duo with pianist Andrea Rebaudengo (especially for the music of the twentieth century), in duo with pianist Claudio Martinez Mehner, and in trio (cellopiano-clarinet) with the latter and the clarinetist Tommaso Lonquich.
For 4 years he was principal cello at the Teatro Regio in Turin. In the same years he was invited as guest principal cello at the Orchestra Filarmonica del Teatro alla Scala of Milan.
In 2014 Umberto was appointed as Principal Cello of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, which is based in the famous Sydney Opera House. Umberto plays a cello by Carlo Antonio Testore, made in Milan in 1758.
Photo Credit: Laura Stanca