Dare to dream! Gozitan violinist shares his incredible musical journey with the MPO
Life as a full-time musician is not a linear one, to which professional violinist Pierre Louis Attard freely attests to. However, the joys of beating the dreaded ‘just another day in the office’ sensation trumps any difficulties that might arise along the way: “I can't imagine myself without a direct link to music and the musical world,” the violinist says.
Pierre Louis Attard
Pierre Louis first started out with the Malta Youth Orchestra and moved on to join the Malta Philarmonic Orchestra. Then still in his teens, his early start has landed him the eternal nickname iz-zghir (the little one). At 18, he was offered a scholarship at the Ian Tomlin Academy of Music in Edinburgh and he decided to leave Malta to further his studies in Scotland, which he then followed up with a Masters of Music in Performance from the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama in Cardiff. Now back on the rock, he juggles his time between performing and teaching, but admits that since leaving student life behind, his practise time has shrunk: “during the student days I would practise between five to six hours a day, but now, disposable time has become rather restricted!” Figuring out how and what to practice while remaining flexible in the limited time available was a difficult task, but he wouldn’t trade his career for the world.
To say Pierre Louis Attard’s induction into the musical field came before he was born would not be wrong. With his immediate family comprised of musicians; namely conductor father Colin, violinist brother Jean Noel and late great uncle Prof. Joseph Vella, and his family home hosting a constant stream of choir members in rehearsal, it was a given that he would continue in the family’s footsteps.
Enrolled in violin and piano lessons at a young age, Pierre Louis freely admits that his Saturdays were not typical of a five-year-old boy: rain or shine, weekly trips from Gozo to Malta for violin lessons were always on the agenda. “When I was younger, I did not feel the same love or passion for music as I do nowadays,” he confesses while extending his gratitude to his father for instilling in him the commitment and perseverance needed to live a life full of music-making.
Now, fresh off an international concert tour with the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra featuring world-renown Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja, Pierre Louis is settling back into life jugging between performing and teaching. Asked about his experience in Moscow, the violinist reveals that such a tour requires a big amount of preparation, above all logistically. From a musical perspective, Pierre Louis explains the structure he adopted: “the first step is self-preparation: obtaining the musical parts and practising them, and listening to the works in order to understand and evaluate stylistic connotations, to figure out how one’s parts fit within the context of the full orchestral scoring and the whole texture, as well as getting one’s cues right.” The next step involves a week of intensive rehearsals and once in Moscow, more rehearsals ensued with conductor Sergey Smbatyan. There is absolutely no rest for the wicked!
The concerts were very well received as Pierre Louis explains: “Joseph Calleja gave five encores in the opening concert, and the orchestra received a long standing ovation during its final concert at the historical Tchaikovsky Concert Hall at the Moscow Conservatory!”
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Reflecting on his career trajectory, Pierre Louis imparts some words of wisdom aimed at aspiring musicians: "talent may be God-given but it must be developed and fostered." To do so, good tutors, constant practice, commitment, listening to and watching inspiring artists, seeking different opportunities, are all important, but the crucial point is to dream. "Where there’s a will there’s a way!" he says.