On 3 October, Maltese tenor Cliff Zammit Stevens will be celebrating the 10-year anniversary of his musical career in an unforgettable concert in St George’s Square, Valletta. For one night only, he will be joined on stage by pop sensation Ira Losco and the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra to spread positivity and awareness through music.
With preparations well underway, we spoke to the celebrated British conductor, Mro Philip Walsh – who has worked with the wonderful French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet and American jazz legend Dee Dee Bridgewater – before he conducts the celebrated MPO on this special evening.
The Maestro first met Cliff in 2015 as they worked together on the wonderful production of Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore at the Teatru Manoel, and the rest is history…
What inspired you to pursue a career in music?
I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a musician. From an early age, before I could even read, I was playing the piano. Music was everywhere in my life; it was just what I needed to do. Although, along the way, many people and many performances have inspired me to want to be a better musician.
How has your relationship with Cliff evolved over the years that you’ve been working together?
I’ve been very happy to conduct Cliff’s annual concert for the last couple of years, and it’s been wonderful to explore a variety of music together during these concerts. In addition, Cliff was a marvellous Don Ottavio in the Manoel’s production of Don Giovanni earlier this year, and I loved working on Mozart with him, as he sings that repertoire so very well.
What do you enjoy most about working with the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra?
The MPO is a wonderfully flexible orchestra, playing opera one minute, and Rockestra the next. So, in an evening such as Cliff’s 10 year anniversary concert, in which we have to change styles very fast, they are very much at home.
Is there a particular moment from your time in Malta that stands out?
I met my partner here in 2010 – he was playing the violin in a production that I was conducting. Two years later we were married, so I am ever thankful to Malta for bringing us together. For this reason alone it’s a very special place, though many musical experiences over the years have made it even more important to me.
What do you find most attractive about life in Malta?
Malta punches above its weight in so many aspects and there’s a great ‘can do’ attitude, particularly when it comes to the arts. There’s a richness of artistic life, a plethora of festivals, and this creates a vibrancy about Malta that is infectious! I also find there’s an intensity to life here – perhaps that’s part of island living – but the energy is always palpable, especially when it comes to performing music.
What are you most looking forward to about the Cliff Zammit Stevens 10 year Anniversary Concert?
Cliff has chosen a wonderful programme featuring music of many styles, and I’m excited to be performing these with him, as well as Ira Losco. He’s done a remarkable thing, organising and performing these concerts every year, and I’m proud to be a part of it.
The Cliff Zammit Stevens 10 Anniversary Concert will take place on 3 October 2018 at 8pm in St George’s Square, Valletta. Tickets start from €25 and can be purchased from www.showshappening.com.