Carlo Antonioli has been announced as the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s Cybec Assistant Conductor Fellow for 2022.

Antonioli graduated from Sydney’s Conservatorium in 2017, and has taken part in a number of emerging conductor programs including the Symphony Services International Conductor Development Program and the inaugural Australian Conducting Academy with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra in 2018.

He has also assisted Vladimir Ashkenazy and Simone Young at the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and most recently was Assistant Conductor at the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, where he worked closely with Principal Conductor Asher Fisch and guest conductors including Ludovic Morlot, Karina Canellakis, Mark Wigglesworth and Fabien Gabel.

In a statement, MSO Chief Conductor Jaime Martín welcomed Carlo to the MSO Artistic Family.

“Carlo is a talented young conductor with a promising future and has proven himself over the years working with other orchestras. As well as being a gifted young talent, he has shown passion, commitment and professionalism along the way,” said Martin. “We welcome Carlo into the MSO family and look forward to helping him reach his full potential.”

The Cybec Assistant Conductor Fellowship runs for 12 months, and provides emerging conductors with both practical and theoretical skills, working with the orchestra on developing their artistic practice, as well as an understanding of the business operations of an orchestra and the intersection of leadership, artistic, operational and commercial considerations.

Antonioli spoke to Limelight via email about his appointment, and his career so far.

Carlo Antonioli

Carlo Antonioli. Image supplied.

When did you decide you wanted to be a conductor?

The idea was definitely floating in the back of my head during high school. As a saxophone player excluded from orchestras, I wanted to find some way of being involved in the process of bringing orchestral music to life. I was fortunate to have inspirational teachers and mentors during this time who encouraged me in the right direction, and as someone who has always found it easier to pour over scores than practice an instrument, I increasingly felt like conducting was the path I wanted to take.

You are also a composer – does conducting help shape your own musical ideas?

I actually find that it’s a two-way process. When I compose, everything that I think about when conducting – structure, sound, harmony, and the practicalities of musicians playing together – informs my work. When I study a score as a conductor, I aim to be so familiar with it, I may as well have composed it myself. Either way, I am ultimately trying to achieve the same goal: to create a narrative within the music through bringing patterns, motivic development and dramatic tension to light – whether at the writing or interpreting end.

You have worked closely with Asher Fisch, Vladimir Ashkenazy and Simone Young – what did you take from those experiences?

Working with Asher Fisch taught me that all of my nerdy score study was not a waste of time – and crucially, I learnt how to make use of that study to form an interpretation and realise it in front of an orchestra. Working with Simone Young exposed me to new heights in how thoroughly a conductor can know a score, and how finessing the most minute of details can bring a performance to another level. Asher and Simone are very different in style when it comes to rehearsals, but both are absolutely committed to their vision of the music, and to creating an environment for the musicians to play at their best. I was only able to work with Vladimir Ashkenazy for a week, and to be honest I spent most of the time in awe of meeting a personal musical idol – many of my earliest memories of attending orchestral concerts are of him conducting what is now among my favourite repertoire.

What excites you most about the MSO’s Cybec Assistant Conductor Fellowship?

Put simply: the people. There is so much to be learnt from every member of the organisation, from the operations and management teams through to each musician in the orchestra. The opportunity for a young conductor to work with an orchestra of the calibre of the MSO is truly rare, so I’m incredibly humbled. I’m particularly looking forward to working with the MSO’s new Chief Conductor, Jaime Martín, and gleaning everything I can from his impressive wealth of knowledge and experience. As someone who believes in lifelong learning, I can’t wait to take this next step in my development as a conductor.