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Monday, July 17, 2017 8:00am

Five minutes with Mitch Berick


I knew I'd make a career in music when: I was accepted into an orchestra made up of school kids from all around NSW. We played Beethoven’s 5th symphony at the Opera House and I knew then that I wanted to make a career of it.

If I weren't a professional musician I'd be: A Pilot

How did you choose the clarinet? A MusicaViva wind quintet came to my primary school to play for us and I thought the clarinet looked really complicated with all the silver keys. After school that day I hassled my parents to buy me one until they gave in!

Is there anything special about your actual instrument/does it have a name/any quirks? My clarinets don’t have names but my B flat does have a big crack in the bell from where I dropped it on the floor half an hour before a concert. Not my best moment!

Mitch with fellow ASO musicians Harley Gray (Double Bass) and Julia Brittain (Violin)

Describe the best thing about being a musician? Being able to play amazing music with your friends.

Finish this sentence:  Music to me is a way to make the world a better place.

Who has influenced you most as a musician? In terms of clarinet players I grew up listening to Karl Leister who was the Principal Clarinet with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra for thirty years so he was a major early influence. My teacher in London was probably the person who had the most influence over my playing directly but lately I’ve really enjoyed the playing of Martin Fröst from Sweden and Kari Kriikku from Finland– those Scandinavian guys really know how to play!

If you could play a different instrument, which would you choose and why? It would either be the violin or the French Horn. The violin because I feel like it is the most expressive instrument and they have such amazing repertoire and the French Horn because I just love the sound.

Which solo or moment in the Clarinet orchestral repertoire is your favourite? For clarinet it is the Adagio from Rachmaninov’s second symphony and for Bass Clarinet it would be either the first movement solos in Mahler’s sixth symphony or the second movement solo in Shostakovich’s seventh symphony.

My most memorable performance/s with the ASO: I always found Arvo Volmer’s performances very memorable and so I would say Mahler Symphony No. 6 with him was a definite highlight, but also La Forza del Destino with Andrea Licata (because he was the most fiery conductor I’ve worked with here) and the Krommer Double Clarinet concerto where I was soloist.

When you’re not performing or practising, what do you enjoy doing in your free time? My favourite things to do outside of music are travelling and skiing and I try to combine them as often as I can! I love travelling to places that I’ve never been to before. I also like hanging out with my friends, watching movies and drinking beer!

Pictured above, Mitch Berick in front of the Taj Mahal while travelling in India.

What are you listening to at the moment? I just gave a chamber music recital with one of Brahms’ clarinet sonatas so that’s what I’ve been listening to lately.

Name three pieces of music you love, and why? Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major – my Mum had a tape of this piece that she used to play in the car and I loved it from the first moment I ever heard it, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony – my favourite symphony of all time, and ‘Take it Easy’ by the Eagles – reminds me of fun roadtrips, one of my favourite things to do.

What has been your most memorable musical experience as an audience member? Probably seeing Sir Simon Rattle conduct the Vienna Philharmonic/Vienna State Opera playing Wagner’s ‘Tristan and Isolde’. I was backpacking around Europe at the time with some friends, getting lessons in lots of different places. We only had standing room tickets and the opera lasts over five hours! Totally worth it though.

Do you come from a musical family? Not really! My mum loves music and played music as a child but my dad has never played a note in his life. My aunt is a music teacher though, so I guess my family is semi-musical!

Name three things people may not know about you? I have a tiny, crazy Boston Terrier named Baxter, I love skiing, I’ve lived in five different cities.  

What’s your idea of a perfect day in Adelaide? Breakfast at the Market Shed, taking the dog for a run on the beach, followed by beers at the Wheatsheaf hotel. 

Pictured above, Mitch Berick in a music class as a child 


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