Christmas Festival – 4th December 2022

We interview Marco Bellasi, our current Conductor-in-Residence for the Northern Rivers Symphony Orchestra.  Whilst his talent in orchestral conducting is well recognised, few of us know Marco is also a bass-baritone singer, and the regular conductor for the Coolamon Singers.  Here he tells us a little bit about himself.

1) You grew up in Italy and studied the violin.  Can you please tell us what made you want to be a conductor and what was your journey like to become one?

I grew up in Milan where my mother, an Australian soprano, worked in the Teatro Alla Scala. My paternal uncle is a renowned violinist in the north of Italy and he toured the world with his trio ‘Trio Di Como’. These were my first experiences with music as a young boy and helped to solidify my love for music. Very early on, I wanted to become a conductor. I was naturally attracted to that role and inspired by Riccardo Muti who was principal conductor at La Scala.

I studied violin, composition, conducting, and singing while I was in Milan. I played in orchestras, sang as a soloist, and had my conducting debut there in Puccini’s La Bohème. I then completed a Masters and Fellowship at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England, and by then I was conducting professional ensembles, choirs, and orchestras.

The journey as a musician offers a wide range of experiences and knowledge gained, especially in my case, in various countries. You have to follow the music to wherever it takes you!

2) We are very fortunate to have you with us in the Northern Rivers Symphony Orchestra, having moved from Italy in 2020 as the pandemic took hold. How are you spending your time here as a local now?

I moved to the Gold Coast from Manchester at the beginning of the pandemic. I had already been coming to the Gold Coast all my life because my grandparents owned a unit at Coolangatta, and I would visit them with my Mum and Dad during the holidays. I always loved the place and the lifestyle; I find it very inspiring and beautiful and I now enjoy surfing. I’m also very happy to have made some beautiful music with the Northern Rivers Symphony Orchestra, the Coolamon Singers, and the Gold Coast Chamber Orchestra.

3) In this concert we are delighted to be joined by the Coolamon Singers, which you also conduct. Can you please tell us a bit about the Coolamon Singers?

I have always enjoyed conducting and working with voices. Being a trained singer myself, I find I know how to make people enjoy singing. I received an offer from the Coolamon Singers during the pandemic to take over the position of Music Director from the delightful Leith Rogers who was retiring from the position. The choir has over 30 years of history; I am delighted by their enthusiasm, motivation and skills and very glad to be working with them on a weekly basis. Our repertoire spans from Classical to well-known favourites from opera and musical theatre. I like the fact there is a touch of Italy in the programme since we will be performing Vivaldi’s wonderful Gloria RV589.