„Listening closely to Santilli’s music one can hear the Italian influence on the Ticino-born musician…“ remarks the Zürcher Unterländer newspaper about Marco Santilli’s work.

Marco Santilli studied classical clarinet with Hansjürg Leuthold and Heinz Hofer at the Zurich Music Academy. He expanded his training and consolidated his skills in instrumentation and arranging with the study of wind orchestra conducting under Franco Cesarini. After receiving his diploma in orchestral performance and teaching, he became adjunct clarinettist for the orchestra of the Zurich Opera House. He then was selected as adjunct clarinettist for the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana. Marco earned his soloist diploma with a “First Prize for Virtuosity” from the Lausanne Music Academy, where he had studied clarinet under Frédéric Rapin.

He took lessons with George Robert, participated in various Jazz workshops with Gary Burton/Makoto Ozone, Oliver Ker Ourio, George Gruntz and Ken Peplowski (NY). He has also taken part in “Berklee at Umbria Jazz”.

He played chamber music and concerts with the Zurich Opera Orchestra, the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra, the Winterthur Musikkollegium, the Schweizer Philharmonie, Collegium Musicum St. Gallen and the “Soli Wind Ensemble” (Italy). As jazz musician he performed at “Estival Jazz” Lugano, the “Montreux Jazz Festival Off”, “Blues to Bop” Lugano and in the United States with, among others, the Michael Rabinowitz quartet (Mingus Orchestra).

Marco leans markedly towards jazz, although improvisation and performance technique are not the only things that matter to him so he himself became a skilled composer and arranger. As a clarinettist he is comfortable in a very wide range of styles, with a particular fondness for songs he has composed and arranged, since he can imbue these with his ideal sound, bringing out the tonal richness of the ensemble in question.

The following projects characterize his current works:

  • CheRoba, Jazz Quartet with Lorenzo Frizzera (g), Ivan Tibolla (p) and Fulvio Maras (perc). The recording of their cd “L’occhio della betulla” with original works from Marco took place at the Radio studios RSI Lugano and has been published by Unit Records in 2017;
  • CheRoba & il Fiato delle alpi. Marco has been commissioned by the International Alpentöne Festival to write a composition for a 9 elements band. This project has been supported with a grant by Pro Helvetia. “La Stüa”, a synthesis between composed and improvised music, has been premiered at the International Alpentöne Festival in Altdorf 2015. The recording of the album took place at the Musikinsel Rheinau and has been published by Unit Records in 2017; another commission issued by the Festival Stubete am See for two more compositions follow (premiered in August 2018 at the Tonhalle Maag Zurich)
  • Orgelwind, Jazz/World Duo with Ivan Tibolla (org) playing own compositions. (CD „Orgelwind“, CD Baby, 2015); A second album coming out in January 2020
  • Jazz Duo Santilli Alderighi with the pianist Paolo Alderighi. (CD „Godiva soleva“, MONS Records, 2012);
  • Belli in zona, Folk/World/Jazz with Giordano Muto (sax). (CD „Belli in zona“, ALTRISUONI 2007);
  • Zappa Santilli, European jazz with cellist Mattia Zappa (Marco has been mandated the composition “Equinozio d’autunno”, a suite in four movements for clarinet/bass clarinet and violoncello. This suite has been premiered as a part of the concert series “Concerti in San Martino”, Ronco sopra Ascona;
  • Soloist with the Amadé Clarinet Octet performing jazz standards, big band arrangements and compositions written by Marco;
  • Being adjunct clarinettist of the Philharmonia Zürich, Marco has taken the assignment of arranging a choice of classical pieces for the cyclus “Geschichten erzählen” (formerly “Opera viva”) of the Zurich Opera and actively takes part in its ensemble. Participation at the “Salzburger Festspiele” in August 2012;
  • From 2013 to 2018 participation in the board of the Swiss Clarinet Society (SCS);
  • Since June 2015, elected member to the board of the SUISA Distribution and Works Committee;
  • For the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Switzerland and Kazakhstan, he was invited in 2017 by the Swiss Embassy in Kazakhstan for three concerts with the Jubilee-KazaCH Jazz Trio and for giving a Master Class; in 2018 he plays in Almaty own compositions and arrangements with the Kazach State String Quartet;
  • In 2018, he organised the Swiss Clarinet Day in Lugano at the Conservatorio della Svizzera italiana (CSI). The Stubete am See festival commissioned him to write some new compositions for the nonet CheRoba & il Fiato delle Alpi (premiered in August 2018 at the Tonhalle Zurich);
  • From 2019 to 2022 he conducted the newly formed Swiss Clarinet Orchestra of the Swiss Clarinet Society SCS. Marco took up his new solo project “Clarinetto d’improvviso”;
  • Since 2020 several concerts with the virtuoso guitarist Julio Azcano;
  • In 2021 release of the album “CheRoba in due” with Ivan Tibolla (piano, organ), which has also been presented live at the radio broadcast “Musica Viva”, a concert series of the RSI ReteDue;
  • In 2022 realization of “Stralüsh” with Simone Menozzi (piano, electronics) including the release of an EP. Starting 2022, Marco has been giving the summer seminar for Clarinet orchestra in the Goms Valley – Gommer Musikferien;
  • ‘Sujazzstiva’, the second album by the nonet Marco Santilli’s CheRoba & il Fiato delle Alpi, has been released in 2023. The album has been recorded at the Hardstudios in Winterthur and co-produced with Swiss Radio SRF2 Kultur. The same year, the Museo V. Vela commissioned him the composition ‘Repetita iuvant’, Suite for clarinet and guitar, premiered together with Peo Alfonsi (guitar). In autumn 2023 Marco gave two concerts in Baku (CheRoba in due with Ivan Tibolla on the piano) at the invitation of the Swiss Embassy in Azerbaijan.

Marco is endorser of Henri Selmer Paris and plays Selmer Privilège B-flat clarinet and Privilège bass clarinet. Silverstein has become his choice as their ligatures improve response and sound projection.