Music Director: Colin Attard
“That ever-energetic live wire Colin Attard” (Albert Storace, The Sunday Times of Malta, 15/05/2016) “with his wild, curly hair, is a familiar figure on the local music scene. His energy is as boundless and dynamic as his hair, and I know few local musicians who are as energetic as he is” (Albert Storace, The Sunday Times of Malta, 03/03/2014).
Born in 1962 in a highly musical family from Victoria, Gozo, inevitably, Attard grew up in a rather musical environment. As he grew older he continued his advanced musical studies under the tuition of his uncle, Prof. Joseph Vella. Indeed, his artistic development and creative impulse were very much moulded within the parameters of his native Gozo – with a necessary corollary being versatility and pragmatism. In turn, he has been a key player in the development and promotion of Gozitan culture, crucially contributing to the revitalisation of its concert activity ever since becoming musically very active in the early 1980’s.
In 1988, soon after graduating from the University of Malta – where he read for a degree in accountancy – he was asked by the authorities to join the founding teaching faculty of the Gozo School of Music as the principal theory and appreciation tutor. In 1990 he officially founded the Gaulitanus Choir, Gozo’s first unaffiliated choir, which since has gradually evolved into a highly important musical institution active locally and abroad, more so since it started organizing Gaulitana: A Festival of Music – a multifarious programme of musical events which Attard artistically directs – in 2007.
In 1990 Colin also first became associated with the Teatru ta’ l-Opra Aurora and its parent organisation, the Leone Philharmonic Society, being appointed resident conductor in 1991. Aware of the constant need to keep up with change, he has been at the front in drifting away from the ubiquitous, tried and tested music, thus presenting contemporary, challenging and rather ‘unfamiliar’ classics as well as more trendy, popular music – the latter also resulting in the highly-rated Leone Goes Pop series. This has piloted the Leone Band to new heights – bringing back the big audiences to the band’s concerts and setting new parameters as regards the local band scenario.
He is also very much involved in church music, where he also made his conducting debut back in his student days. He has served as ‘festa’ music director in several Gozitan parishes and churches. In 1995 he officially started his relationship with the Gozo Cathedral, first as director of its resident choir, the Chorus Ecclesiae Cathedralis, and then as maestro di cappella.
Yet, Attard is perhaps mostly-known as a pivotal personality in Gozitan operatic productions – initially for the Aurora and more recently also for Gaulitana: A Festival of Music. In these, he is not just the man behind the baton but also extensively involved in its organization, besides doubling as choir master. His central role in the local operatic development has also been acknowledged by the renowned international magazine Opera Now which, in 2016, published an interview with him on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of opera in Gozo. He also appeared in various international TV features about the local operatic phenomenon. In 2017 Colin was also involved the writing of another leaf in Malta’s operatic history when, under his leadership, the Gaulianus Choir became the first local based choir ever to participate in an operatic production abroad.
Whether in opera, symphonic or other concerts, Attard has been at the helm of the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra and several foreign orchestras, namely Italy’s Nova Amadeus, Filarmonica di Palermo, Filarmonica G. Verdi, Orchestra Filarmonica F. Cilea, and Orchestra da Camera del Festival Euro Mediterraneo, Romania’s Oltenia Philharmonic Orchestra and Pitesti Philharmonic Orchestra, Corsica’s Rencontres Musicales de Mediterranée Festival Orchestra and Mexico’s Orquestra Sinfonica del Estado de Mexico. He has conducted various world-renowned opera artists such as sopranos Maria Guleghina, Eva Marton, Michèle Crider, Elena Mosuc and Miriam Gauci, mezzo-soprano Mzia Nioradze, tenors Neil Shicoff, Nicola Martinucci, Gianfranco Cècchele, Stuart Neill and Franco Farina, and baritones Juan Pons, Bruno Praticò and Alberto Mastromarino.
Colin is also a composer – with a fellowship diploma in composition from the London College of Music and quite a few compositions to his credit. His interest in Gozo’s musical heritage has also led to the editing of several forgotten compositions which since have also been revived. Arranging is another of his penchants. Particularly significant are probably the various musical arrangements he did for the Rencontres Musicales de Mediterranée in Corsica (France), where he participated in several editions in different roles. Indeed, he regularly featured abroad in his various capacities of orchestra conductor, choir director, band director, concert organizer, accompanist or member of adjudicating boards.
Notwithstanding, Colin Attard remains a very proud Gozitan in heart, giving his all to enhance Gozo’s image as an island of culture and to further develop Gozo’s cultural programme into a high-quality event one, also aimed towards the international market – thus making Gozo a niche for cultural tourism.