It’s HAMMER TIME in Brisbane!

CLERICI CONDUCTS MAHLER, under the baton of Chief Conductor Umberto Clerici 22 and 23 September 2023

Media Release ·

It’s HAMMER TIME in Brisbane!

As far as famous hammers in history go, there is really only one that compares to Thor’s mythical Mjolnir and that is the iconic hammer in Gustav Mahler’s epic orchestral expression of tragedy and fatalism, Symphony No. 6

Queensland audiences will witness this incredible concert on September 22 and 23 when Queensland Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Chief Conductor, Umberto Clerici, fill the Concert Hall twice over at QPAC.

Breathtaking. Spine tingling. Heart racing. That's the impact of 114 musicians live on stage – the largest number of QSO musicians on stage in more than a decade - all striving for musical magnificence in this deeply moving and cathartic work that promises to leave audiences awestruck.

Mahler’s Symphony No. 6, despite written during the a very serene and happy moment of his life, is the most tragic Symphony he wrote, with each of the movements delving into the inner world of the human spirit, and how humanity strives for fulfillment in the face of inevitable mortality – the hammer blows.

The gargantuan gavel, handled by QSO’s Percussion Section Principal David Montgomery, appears in the final dramatic movement and is used two or three times to symbolize the mighty blows of fate that befall the hero.

The concerts signal the beginning of Chief Conductor Clerici’s Mahler Cycle.

“Every new Chief Conductor dreams to start a Mahler cycle but few make it beyond his Fourth or Fifth Symphony. So I decided to continue a cycle started by Alondra de la Parra in 2016: we will restart from Mahler’s Sixth Symphony, the Tragic, and continue this journey in years to come,” says Clerici, adding that he plans to program Mahler’s Seventh and then Ninth Symphonies in 2024 and 2025.

Clerici said Mahler’s Symphonies are up there with some of the world’s greatest achievements.

“The sheer enormity of the concert, and the concept of the story makes this Symphony truly monumental. There’s the pyramids, the moon landing and then there’s Mahler; he forged new ways to compose and perform music and he remains one of the greatest composers of all time,” said Umberto Clerici.

Size matters in this concert! There will be 114 musicians on stage – the greatest number of musicians on stage in a QSO concert event in more than 10 years, including 60 strings, 30 violins, 10 cellos, 12 violas, eight double basses, nine horns, six trumpets and two harps.

The Symphony also includes a major Tuba solo which will be performed by QSO’s Principal Tuba, Thomas Allely, who will also host the highly popular Pre-Concert Talks each evening.

The two concerts also feature the world premiere of a new Symphony by Justin Williams, a personal friend of Umberto’s and a colleague at Sydney Symphony Orchestra (SSO).

“His music virtually continues the late Romantic idiom, and could be the natural continuation of Strauss and Mahler,” said Umberto Clerici.

During the COVID lockdowns, Williams wrote a piece for string quartet and asked Umberto Clerici and SSO Concertmaster Andrew Haveron if they would perform it with him and his wife Lerida Delbrige. Impressed, Clerici asked what else he was working on. Discovering that Williams was composing a Symphony, Clerici asked him to let him know when he had something more concrete. He did, Clerici loved it and now it will be performed by the full QSO.

The size and scale of these two concerts reflect Umberto Clerici’s call for Season 2023; for audiences, and musicians, to be curious.

“My ambition for these next three years is to create a web of interconnected programs in which each single concert has a clear and unique storyline that develops into a unified arc, embracing the entire season,” said Maestro Clerici.

CLERICI CONDUCTS MAHLER is presented in association with Brisbane Festival.

FRIDAY 22 September 2023 | 7:30 pm

SATURDAY 23 September 2023 | 1:30pm

Concert Hall, QPAC. Cultural Precinct, Cnr Grey Street and Melbourne Street. South Brisbane.

Tickets are available for purchase online at

For more media information, please contact Kath Rose on 0416 291 493 or email

Queensland Symphony Orchestra respectfully acknowledges the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the land on which the Orchestra works, plays, and creates music, and we pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.