Robert Clarke

Robert Clarke

Principal Percussion

Robert Clarke has held the position as Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Principal Percussionist since 1981. Growing up in Melbourne, Robert started his musical journey playing the piano at aged five. Shortly after this he started playing the drums as the youngest member of a family band. He continued his studies through high school and later at the Victorian College of the Arts. As a member of the MSO, Robert has worked with some of this century’s most influential composers including Messiaen, Takemitsu and Penderecki.

On the commercial scene, he has recorded and performed with Elton John, Frank Sinatra, Kiss, Olivia Newton-John and The Three Tenors, and played on numerous recordings and more than 100 film scores. He has appeared as soloist with the MSO, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Academy of Melbourne and other ensembles performing the concerto’s of such composers as Richard Mills, Julian Yu, Paul Creston and Alan Hovhaness. In 1993 Robert was the first recipient of the Elton John Award for overseas study, which took him to the US, where he studied with Chris Lamb of the New York Philharmonic and Perry Drieman.

Meet Robert


The music that changed my life is.

As a child I after seeing the Beatles on TV I wanted to play the drums like Ringo Star and stop learning the piano. In my teens it was the music of Miles Davies and Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring that gave me the passion to explore a larger world of music making.

What are your favourite sporting teams?

Carlton, AFL and whatever basketball/netball/soccer, teams my daughters are playing with at the time.

Where in Victoria do you most like to perform?

In Melbourne it would have to be the Melbourne Recital Centre and out of Melbourne Costa Hall in Geelong.

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