'Enthusiastic and full of energy' is the chosen title of the Süddeutsche Zeitung for their article on Clemens Schuldt, principal conductor of the Munich Chamber Orchestra as of the 16/17 season. Until recently a passionate chamber musician himself, Schuldt has been invited to conduct many internationally-renowned chamber orchestras since his conducting career began, including the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Lausanne Chamber Orchestra, Lapland Chamber Orchestra, and Hong Kong Sinfonietta. He studied the symphonic repertoire intensively during his time as a violinist in the Gürzenich Orchestra Cologne and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen. On winning the Donatella Frick Competition in 2010, he became Assistant Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, where he conducted several premieres and education projects - ventures close to his heart.

Opera has increasingly become a focus for Clemens Schuldt. After five productions of his own in Innsbruck and Mainz, and numerous opera performances from Gluck to Wagner, he feels very much at home in this repertoire. This versatility, along with his energy-fuelled interpretations, broad stylistic range and sensitive musicianship have made him a much sought-after guest throughout Europe, Asia and Australia (Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Bamberg Symphony, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Barcelona Symphony, Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg, National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Yumiuri Nippon Orchestra Tokyo, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra).

Highlights of the 16/17 season include returns to the Philharmonia Orchestra London and the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra with concerts in the Concertgebouw, and debuts with the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, New Japan Philharmonic and Swedish Chamber Orchestra. The emphasis will be on the symphonies of Haydn, Beethoven and Schumann, alongside 21st century works from composers such as Saariaho and Abrahamsen in portrait concerts with the Munich Chamber Orchestra.

13 Questions for Clemens Schuldt

(from the brochure of the Munich Chamber Orchestra)

1. Are you more the sprinter or the endurance type?

'In the past I'd have said sprinter, but nowadays endurance.'

2. Fighter or gambler? 


3. Stereo or smartphone? How and where do you listen to music? 

'CD and Spotify. I still have a large CD collection that I listen to on my old stereo, which was once top of the range. Sadly I'm not at home much, but when I am, I listen to CDs a lot. With the score.'

4. Your favourite composer? 

'Oh that's easy... Schubert!' 

5. Is it important to identify emotionally with the music you perform? 

'Yes, but it's not always necessary. With some pieces, just mastering them is a pleasure, almost like a mathematical exercise. But of course it was the personal connection to music which led me to choose this profession.' 

6. You once said that young conductors have to 'do more' than old ones. Why? 

'It's difficult to dare to do less, to learn to trust. For a long time I had the impression that older conductors have more ‘pulling power’ than younger ones. Maybe it's a question of authority, and also status. The reduction of each gesture is something that has to be learned. It has to develop. But in the end it's something quite natural.' 

7. Is conducting actually done with the hands or the eyes? Or the soul?

'If the soul is the source, then it flows through the hands, and you can conduct with your eyes closed. But I very much like eye contact. I need it.'

8. Are rehearsals overrated?

'Definitely not. If, as a conductor, I consider rehearsals to be not a routine but an opportunity, then they are the most valuable thing of all.'

9. Can a conductor speak or should he just show everything with his hands? 

'It's my job to make people look. The more they realise how much I show, the less I need to speak. But I have to insist that they watch me.'

10. What annoys you about the classical music industry? 

'The encroaching superficiality, as seen in the dwindling courage to offer audiences something they don't already know.'

11. Do rituals bond audiences or not? 

'They both bond and bind. I find some worth preserving, such as the silence during concerts. Others, such as a strict dress code, are irrelevant to me as an artist. In an architectonic environment in which the arts are part of daily life, I'd find casual clothes perfectly acceptable for all kinds of music. People dress up less to go to the theatre than to go to the opera, and it doesn't seem to have done Shakespeare any harm.'

12. Which is your baton of choice? 

'Five years ago I tried out twenty different batons. Since then I've stuck to one particular model, Mollard. It sits well in the hand and isn't too long.'

13. When did you sense that conducting could be your thing?

'When I was about 25, during my first concert as a conductor. I experienced a completely unprecedented feeling of freedom and release on the stage, in contrast to the constant pressure that I knew as a violinist. Whilst conducting, this performance pressure diffused into a feeling of freedom and inspiration.'