Claudia Jelic 1

Claudia Jelic on stage in the 2017 Sydney Eisteddfod. Photo: WinikiPoP Media

An interview with Claudia Jelic

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Clarinettist Claudia Jelic entertained audiences in the 2017 NSW Drs Orchestra Sydney Eisteddfod Instrumental Scholarship with her renditions of Bucolique by Eugène Bozza and Clarinet Concerto, Op. 31 by Gerald Finzi. Claudia  spoke to Sydney Eisteddfod about her passion for the clarinet and which other instrumentalists she enjoys listening to.

What inspired you to start playing the Clarinet?

Music had always been a part of my life through singing, piano, recorder and percussion. It was almost by chance that I picked up the clarinet and fell in love with it. And I haven’t put it down since! Music took on a whole new meaning for me.

Tell us a bit about Gerald Finzi’s ‘Clarinet Concerto’. 

The first movement of Finzi’s Clarinet Concerto is eerily beautiful with unusual harmonies. The work explores the depth of the clarinet’s sound through the soaring melodic lines, which float above the orchestra, or the piano in this case. Despite the warmth and simplicity of the main theme, there is a sense of unease which lies beneath the surface of the piece. The ending is epic. Beginning with the clarinet cadenza, the tension is all-encompassing. The inner turmoil and beauty of what has come before culminates in a passionate outpouring. The tension builds with the clarinet’s brilliant trills and is finally released with a closing flourish.

Which other performers do you most like to listen to, and why?

At the moment, I am interested in the performance style and the technical brilliance of the Swedish clarinettist Martin Fröst. He’s not afraid to try something new. I appreciate his exploration of new and diverse repertoire from different periods and cultures.

What have you learnt from your Sydney Eisteddfod experience?

This experience has been overwhelmingly positive. I have learnt a lot about commitment and how to deal with the intensity of ongoing performances. You have to make realistic choices about the kind of performance you want to create. Trusting your instincts, from your initial choice of repertoire, to preparing yourself and the music for the final performance, is extremely important. You have do what feels right. You have to live the pieces you are playing.

What would you say to a young Clarinettist that was thinking about entering Sydney Eisteddfod?  

Go for it! Young musicians are always saying there aren’t enough performance opportunities. Well, this is the perfect opportunity to perform in a supportive environment amongst other passionate musicians. You have literally nothing to lose. Every time you get up on stage you gain experience and become more confident as a performer. Sydney Eisteddfod also allows you to appreciate other musicians and their performances.  

What do you hope to achieve next? 

I am always wanting to improve myself as a musician. I want to extend myself in terms of repertoire and gain as much experience performing solo and in ensembles.