11.30hrs CORO LIRICO SICILIANO – (Italy)
Gozo Seminary Chapel, Victoria

The Coro Lirico Siciliano presented the first concert of the Opera Weekend featuring music by Bellini, Ramella and Magno. The choir was under the direction of Francesco Costa, whereas the soloists were sopranista Antonia Maria Alberto Munafo and Riccardo Bosco. The choir was accompanied on the organ by Stephen Attard.

Based in Catania, the choir was founded in 2008 and has a wide repertoire ranging from the operatic to the sacred. It has performed under the direction of, amongst others, Steven Mercurio, Peter Tiboris, Giuliano Carella, Marius Stravinsky, Gianluca Martinenghi, and alongside such artists as Daniela Dessì, Gregory Kunde, Fabio Armiliato, and Piero Giuliacci. The choir cooperates with the “International Week of Religious Music” in Monreale, the “Orchestra Sinfonica Siciliana”, the “Ente Luglio Musicale Trapanese, Teatro di Tradizione”, the “Taormina Opera Festival”, the “Taormina Arte”, the “Teatro Comunale” of Bologna, and the “Teatro Vincenzo Bellini” of Catania.
Noteworthy are its engagements for Bellini’s opera Norma in 2012, and Verdi’s Rigoletto, Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana, and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci in 2013, which were broadcast live worldwide by RAI from the Ancient Theatre of Taormina and presented at the Cannes Film Festival. It has also been engaged by “Ente Luglio Musicale Trapanese” for the world premiere of Agostino Sieri Pepoli’s opera Mercedes produced in collaboration with Bologna’s Teatro Comunale and recorded on DVD.
Since its inception, the choir has been directed by Francesco Costa. An opera singer, choirmaster and composer, Costa currently also directs the children’s choir “Pueri Cantores Maenarum” and the choir of the University of Messina. The recipient of several awards, he artistically directs the high-profile events “Festival Luigi Capuana”, “Sicanorum Cantica”, and “Premio Canticorum Sacerdos”. Besides an intense concert activity, Costa dedicates time to the research, study, revision, editing, and performance of lesser-known works, some by largely unknown musicians. His current overseeing of the revision and transcription of Bellini’s opera Zaira for the “Bellini Festival” in Catania is noteworthy.

Stephen’s musical career began in the damp corridors of a Domenican nunnery just across the road from his home. Czerny exercises and Mozart minuets were obvious starting points, supplemented by Bertini studies and odd lively waltzes. At age 10, Stephen’s musical exigencies led him to start treading the long road to Malta where for 10 successive years, he received tuition in pianoforte performing and music appreciation obtaining ATCL, LRSM and FTCL in due course. In 1985, he enrolled in a B.Ed (Hons) course at Tal-Qroqq specializing in Italian and Early & Middle Years. In 1988, he was one of the first teachers at the Gozo School of Music where he still teaches pianoforte performing.
Attard has a knack for composition and a keen interest in literature, having obtained Ordinary-Level Certificates in Maltese, English, Italian, Arabic and Latin, and Advanced-Levels in Maltese, English and Italian. He set to music works of Gozitan writers such as Mary Meylak, Anton Buttigieg, Joe W. Psaila, Charles Bezzina, Joe Meilak, Ganni Cremona, Effie Masini and Emanuel Cordina. He composed the music for 2 musicals; one of which, Gwanninu, is being re-staged this autumn 30 years after its highly successful initial run, and another one of which he is writing both music and lyrics.
He has to his credit a notable ‘corpus’ of church music; his 2 main works being Quddiesa Madonna Ta’ Pinu dedicated to his mentor Fr. Paul Chetcuti S.J. and premiered by the Gaulitanus Choir some years ago, and Quddiesa f’Gieh Prof. Guze Aquilina which he has not terminated yet. He composed band marches which were played respectively by the two Victoria band clubs.
Stephen is indebted for his musical formation primarily to his parents, to his brother Colin and to his uncle, Prof. Joseph Vella.
He was instrumental in the setting-up of the Gozo School of Music magazineThe Buzz of which he is the Executive Director and is the current director and founder of Fundazzjoni Arti u Fidi (FAF), a local NGO which tries to synthesize faith and culture. He likes to gaze thankfully at Creation spending most of his free time sipping coffee at the San Frangisk whereabouts or delving into the unfathomable depths of his subconscious by sleeping profusely.