It's easy to mistake Charlie Siem for a runway model — he has, after all, graced campaigns for Dior, Giorgio Armani and Hugo Boss — but the London-based musician makes clear his top profession. "I really only play the violin," he tells WHO, "but if it has the effect of reaching out to a different sort of audience to come listen to the music that I play, then that's a great thing, too."
Starting March 24 at the Castlemaine State Festival in Victoria, classical music fans can catch Siem, 31, on his first tour in Australia, which will finish with a show in the Utzon Room at the Sydney Opera House on April 10.
"It's going to be an adventure," Siem says. "I really don't know what to expect. It's going to be three weeks traveling around Australia and I'm excited for the novelty of venues there as much as anything else."
As for what's in his recital program, Siem says, "It's sort of a diverse range of pieces from the classical repertoire —Beethoven, Grieg, Wieniawski. They're so profound and entertaining, and they are things I enjoy playing. I always choose things that inspire me and I feel I can communicate to an audience effectively."
While Siem had played with pop stars like Lady Gaga and Bryan Adams and listens to "all kinds of music," he still prefers the classics. "I'm a big lover of Mozart, Bach, Brahms, Mahler, Sibelius, and Prokofiev," he says. However, "I also love '70s rock 'n' roll," he concedes. "I love Led Zeppelin and I've always loved Pink Floyd, Thin Lizzy, David Bowie and French hip-hop even. It depends. I love a lot of jazz, so the key is to always be pushing your boundaries, listening to different things and challenging what you think you like. You always discover things with that attitude."
Siem, who is also a visiting professor of music at London's Leeds College of Music, says he hopes younger audiences will give classical music a try. "Classical music requires a little more patience, a little more of an effort on the part of the listener," he says. "But as a result, I think you get so much more substance, so much more meaning."
To learn more about Siem and his celebrity following, pick up the latest issue of WHO on newsstands today.
To see Siem's tour dates and find ticket information, go to charliesiem.com