The President’s New Year Concert
The MPO welcomes 2021 with an online concert artistically directed by Matthew Muscat Drago. Under the baton of Colin Attard, the orchestra interprets an eclectic programme of works presenting popular orchestral numbers, Viennesse operetta arias, and a fanfare by eminent film composer John Williams.
The interdisciplinary production features ballet numbers and the Armed Forces of Malta Band whilst tributing the late Oliver Friggieri - with a literary work accompanied by Joseph Vella’s musical oeuvre.
Olympic Fanfare and Theme
Meine Lippen, die küssen so heiss from Giuditta
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Andante Maestoso (Pas de Deux) from The Nutcracker Suite No. 2
Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia
Romanza for Violin, Cello and Strings (with reciting of xxx by Oliver Friggieri)
Danzón No. 2
Johann Strauss II
Der Zigeunerbaron Overture
For half a century, the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra has been Malta’s leading musical ensemble.
The orchestra was founded in April 1968, when musicians from the defunct “C-in-C” orchestra of the Malta-based British Mediterranean Fleet regrouped as the Manoel Theatre Orchestra. It continued to serve as the theatre’s resident orchestra until September 1997, when it became an independent orchestra, taking up the name National Orchestra of Malta. The orchestra became the MPO in 2008 when it expanded into a full-size symphony orchestra, bringing together the best of Maltese talent and musicians from Europe and beyond.
Joseph Sammut, the C-in-C’s last conductor, was the orchestra’s first conductor, remaining at the helm until 1992. Since then, the orchestra has also been under the direction of Joseph Vella, John Galea, Michael Laus and Brian Schembri.
This season, the MPO has appointed Raoul Lay as its Artistic Director, together with Sergey Smbatyan as Principal Conductor and Michael Laus as Resident Conductor. The MPO also works with local and international guest conductors and soloists including Lawrence Renes, Michalis Economou, Guy Braunstein and Enrico Dindo.
As Malta’s only professional orchestra, the MPO averages more than one performance a week including symphonic concerts, opera productions in Malta and Gozo, community outreach and educational initiatives, as well as various concerts of a lighter nature.
The orchestra has performed in leading venues across the globe, including in the USA, Russia, Germany, Austria, China, Italy, and Belgium, and presently embarks on at least one international tour each concert season.
The MPO is a keen exponent of Maltese composers, regularly performing their works in Malta and overseas, as well as frequently premiering, and commissioning new compositions.
Through the MPO Academy and the Malta Youth Orchestra – which itself regularly gives concerts across Malta, the MPO is also responsible for the training and professional development of the next generation of Maltese musicians.
Tatiana Lisnic was born in Cobalea, Moldavia.
After finishing the Music-School in Chisinau, she received her diploma at the Music-Academy “G. Dima” in Cluj, Romania and continued her studies with Alida Ferrarini in Italy.
Tatiana Lisnic made 1998 her stage-debut at the Opera House in Cluj as Nedda (“Pagliacci”), followed by Ilia (“Idomeneo”).
First with the Herbert von Karajan – Scholarship, then as member of the ensemble and starting with 2003 as permanent guest, she sung at the Vienna State Opera: Adina (“L’elisir d’amore”), Susanna (NP “Le nozze di Figaro”, with R. Muti), Lauretta (“Gianni Schicchi”) and Nanett’ (NP “Falstaff”, with F. Luisi).
Under the baton of famous conductors, Tatiana Lisnic appears on the most important opera stages: Scala di Milano and Ravenna Festival (2002 – “Le nozze di Figaro” – R. Muti), Teatro Comunale di Firenze (2001 - “Don Pasquale”), Teatro La Fenice Venezia (2006 – “Die Zauberflöte/Pamina), Opéra National La Monnaie Bruxelles (2002 - “La Bohème”/Mimi – A. Pappano and 2003 -“Don Giovanni”/Zerlina), Opéra National de Paris Bastille (2009 – “L’elisir d’amore”, 2010 “Le nozze di Figaro”, 2015 – “Don Giovanni”/Donna Anna), Opéra National du Rhin Strasbourg (2003 - “La Traviata”, 2007 – “Lucia di Lammermoor”), Opéra de Toulon (2012 – “Carmen”/Micaela), Royal Opera House Covent Garden (2004 - “Don Pasquale”), Deutsche Oper Berlin (2005 - “Don Pasquale), Staatsoper Berlin (2014 – “Faust”),
Hamburgische Staatsoper (2010- “L’elisir d’amore”, 2011 and 2012 – “Flavius Bertaridus”. 2013 – “Faust”), Oper Frankfurt (2006 – “La Bohème”, 2009 – “Les pêcheurs de perles”, “Lucia di Lammermoor”, “La Traviata”, 2010 – “Le nozze di Figaro”./Susanna), Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia Valencia (2008 – “Le nozze di Figaro”/Susanna), Japan Opera Foundation Tokyo (2010- “L’elisir d’amore”), Teatro de la Maestranza Sevilla (2010 – “La Bohème”/Musetta), Angers Nantes Opéra (2011 – “L’elisir d’amore”), Aalto Theater Essen (2011 – “I Capuleti e i Montecchi”), Teatro Bellini Catania (2012 – “Carmen”/Micaela), Seoul (2013- “Turandot”/Liù), Mikhailovsky Theatre St. Petersburg (2013 – “L’elisir d’amore”), Theater St. Gallen (2013 – “Don Giovanni”/Donna Anna), San Diego Opera (2014 – “L’elisir d’amore”/Adina).
Near her operatic appearances, she develops a rich concert activity in Austria, Germany, France, Spain, under the baton of J. Lopez-Cobos, R. Muti, M. Viotti etc.
Her recordings include a CD with “Gianni Schicchi”/Lauretta para Naxos with A. Rahbari and a DVD with “Le nozze di Figaro”/Susanna for TDK with R. Muti.
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).
“Colin Attard conducted the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra with passion and a wonderfully instinctive feel for the ebb and flow of the score, to which the Orchestra responded very well” (Cecilia Xuereb, The Malta Independent, 17/04/2017).
“Leading the MPO, Colin Attard was a beacon of controlled energy. Rhythmically-precise yet allowing the soloists to express themselves, he delivered a series of exciting musical zeniths" (Tony Cassar Darien, It-Torċa, 10/06/2018).
"A job well-carried off by the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra….under the baton of that tireless bundle of energy, Colin Attard" (Albert Storace, The Sunday Times of Malta, 10/11/2019).
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 late 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.
He made his conducting debut back in his student days as ‘festa’ music director, and eventually occupied the role of church music director in several Gozitan parishes and churches – also serving as maestro di cappella at the Gozo Cathedral for more than a quarter of a century.
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 after it started organizing Gaulitana: A Festival of Music, which Attard artistically directs.
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.
Yet, Attard is perhaps more widely 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 productions, 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 hugely involved in the writing of another leaf in Malta’s operatic history when, under his leadership, the Gaulitanus 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, Nino Machaidze, Eva Mei, Elena Mosuc, Amarilli Nizza and Miriam Gauci, mezzo-sopranos Mzia Nioradze, Elisabetta Fiorillo and Anna Maria Chiuri, tenors Neil Shicoff, Nicola Martinucci, Gianfranco Cècchele, Stuart Neill and Franco Farina, and baritones Juan Pons, Lucio Gallo, 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. Significant are the various musical arrangements he did for the Rencontres Musicales de Mediterranée in Corsica (France), where he has often appeared in different roles. Indeed, he regularly features abroad whether as 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 further develop Gozo’s high-quality cultural programme and to enhance Gozo’s image as “an island of culture”.