Profile Colin Attard

“Conductor and musician Colin Attard, with his wild, curly hair, is a familiar figure on the local music scene, especially in his native Gozo. 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).

Today he is directing his 20th opera for the Teatru tal-Opra Aurora and at the same time is celebrating the 20th anniversary since he made his operatic debut at this Gozitan theatre. By sheer coincidence, but quite significantly, the opera Colin Attard directed in 1994 was also Verdi’s Il Trovatore. Since then – thanks also to his input and his deft hand in the organisation of musical activity, which serves him in good stead in this mammoth task of opera organisation in Gozo where he is not just the man behind the baton – local operatic productions have made huge leaps forward and today are very highly looked at even overseas. Throughout these Aurora productions Attard has worked with world-renowned international artists such as sopranos Maria Guleghina, Eva Marton and Michèle Crider, tenors Neil Shicoff, Nicola Martinucci, Gianfranco Cècchele and Franco Farina and baritone Juan Pons and conducted the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra as well some foreign orchestras such as the Nova Amadeus of Rome (Italy), the Filarmonica di Palermo (Italy), the Filarmonica G. Verdi of Sicily (Italy), and the Orchestra Filarmonica F. Cilea of Reggio Calabria (Italy). He has also been the choir master of the Aurora Opera Chorus.

Attard’s association with the Aurora and its parent organisation, the Leone Philharmonic Society, goes back to 1990 when he was initially appointed as assistant conductor and then as principal conductor in 1991. This has seen him working extensively with the Leone Band which he has piloted to new heights as regards concert activity. Aware of the constant need to keep up with change, he has been at the front in presenting the ever-increasing Gozitan audiences with 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. Drifting away from the ubiquitous, tried and tested music has managed to bring back the big audiences to the Leone Band’s concerts and has set new parameters for others to follow.

As a matter of fact, versatility and varied repertoires are very much part and parcel of Attard’s musical do and has been quite evident since he became musically very active in the early 1980's – when he was a leading personality in revitalising concert activity in Gozo. Nowadays, this is perhaps most notable in the annual Easter-time international festival Gaulitana: A Festival of Music which he artistically directs for the Gaulitanus Choir, which he formed in 1990. Indeed, the festival presents a multifarious programme of events with an outreach perspective, and this year has struck new ground with the production of a full-scale opera, Tosca, a collaboration with the Taormina Festival – in itself a great innovity for the Maltese islands.

Presumably, all this is very much part of Attard’s DNA. In fact he was born (in 1962) in a highly musical family from Victoria where, inevitably, he grew up in a rather musical environment and also received his early musical education. Eventually he continued his advanced studies under the tuition of his uncle, Prof. Joseph Vella, while at the same he read for a degree in accountancy from the University of Malta. Soon after graduating he took up a full-time career in music, after being asked to move over to the Gozo School of Music when it was inaugurated in 1988. Since 2010 he has been the editor of the school’s magazine The Buzz.

Colin is a also composer (with a fellowship diploma in composition from the London College of Music and quite a few compositions to his credit), maestro di cappella at the Gozo Cathedral and some other churches, and the director of the Gozo Cathedral’s resident choir, the Chorus Ecclesiae Cathedralis. His interest in Gozo’s musical heritage has also led to the editing of several forgotten compositions, which have also been revived.

Arranging is another of Attard's penchants. Particularly significant are the several musical arrangements he did for the Rencontres Musicales de Mediterranée in Corsica (France), where he was invited several times – also to conduct the festival’s international orchestra. Attard has indeed appeared abroad several other times in his various roles.

A very proud Gozitan and a key player in the development and promotion of Gozitan culture, Attard looks forward to what he thinks should be the next big leap in this regard: a well co-ordinated Gozitan cultural programme based on quality events, also aimed towards the international market – thus making Gozo a niche for cultural tourism. Colin vouchsafes his “energy” to reach this goal.

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