The Malta Independent 26 March 2019, Tuesday

Articulate keys, articulate expressions

Tuesday, 30 October 2018, 09:43 Last update: about 6 months ago

Charlene Farrugia's career has been one of constant transformation, moving on to new avenues and scenes as an accomplished pianist. She was the youngest soloist to ever perform with The National Orchestra of Malta at just 13. That was a momentous event that is still remembered by many classical music followers. She has worked with the National Orchestra of Malta and the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra seasons.  Her debut CD, recorded for NAXOS, features the 1st Piano Concerto by Maltese national composer Charles Camilleri, played alongside the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra.


 Internationally renowned and also a winner of 10 national and international piano competitions, Charlene has travelled extensively and premiered several works for solo piano and chamber music. Amongst others, one can mention the premiere of Karl Fiorini's Trois Piece pour Piano et Orchestre with the Rotterdam Ensemble, the UK premiere of Fur Balant Andras Varga, by renowned Austrian composer Johannes Maria Staud and Bashkim Shehu's Allegro Barbaro with Kaliningrad Philharmonic Orchestra. On many occasions, she has been invited to conduct masterclasses and sit as a jury member in piano competitions in Europe.She has also been listed as one of the world's great women pianists and is also an EMMA for peace artist. As one of the performers in the forthcoming Three Palaces Festival, Eric Montfort found out more about Charlene's abilities and attitudes. 


You have achieved a lot in such a short time. This is also a reflection of your love for music. How can you describe your career path?

The value of the music itself comes first for me. It is such a powerful and universal means of communicating with others! Music, like art, unites where words often divide. Then there is the versatility that this career entails. You can never do the same thing every day, which I love. Thanks to music, I have the opportunity to travel, to visit new countries, to know new cultures and to have new experiences that open new horizons. The numerous trips I have made have certainly formed me very much: I would not be the same person if I had not had these experiences.


How can you describe a day in the life of a young and highly successful pianist, whom the audience views with much expectations?

There is never one day like another. I have lived in different cities in recent years, and each time, my daily routine was different. I can tell you that I am an early bird, so when I do not have concerts and I dedicate myself to study at home, I have schedules that are perfect for early risers ... I get a lot more done in the morning hours. If instead, I have a performance, or I have to travel, obviously, my schedules vary accordingly, and it may happen that I need to sleep later and perhaps a little bit less. Usually, when I have a concert, I like to arrive very early at the concert hall, and do things calmly.


Should there be new approaches to music education in this day and age of rapid technology and less concentration?

Our profession as a performer demands a real-time control of sequential events whose temporal and sound boundaries have potentially infinite variables, but which we want to control and manage. Perhaps a more divergent education would extend the student's knowledge, directing it to in-depth analyses not necessarily related to a specific skill, but helping to broaden the general culture of the subject. Sometimes, I find that there is too much intervention of intrusive teaching. I have noticed that in recent years, some institutions have gone in a disorganized direction, removing courses of crucial importance or adding subjects without the right preparation.


Mediterranean was a musical piece that gives tribute to composer Charles Camilleri. How much did he influence you? How do you rate his legacy almost a decade after his passing away?

 A memory that I cherish was when, at the age of 13, I had the pleasure of playing Charles Camilleri's music for himself. At that age, meeting one such important composer and being complimented and approved by him, was supportive for my young career. I would like to mention here, that the 'Mediterranean' recording, on which I perform Camilleri's First Piano Concerto, has been broadcast on very important radio stations such as BBC Radio 3, Rai 3, ORF, receiving excellent reviews.


You live in Pula, Croatia with your family. How is the general and the classical music scene like over there? How much has it affected your creativity?

I must here say, that in Croatia, as in many European and non-European countries, music and the craft of musicians enjoy considerable amount of respect and motivation. Conservatories and Academies have very good organizational standards, and it is a pleasure to hold a professorial position at the music academy here.


What recent projects have you undertaken? What future projects are there in the pipeline?

This year, I devoted myself to two important recordings; one recording session was held at the Konzerthaus in Vienna and will be released by Sony, and the other, recorded in HRT studios in Zagreb, will be released by Parma Records. Important concerts this past season include performances in Haydn House in Vienna, participation in the Beethoven Festival in Czech Republic, and a chamber music performance with Dimitri Ashkenazy.

After my solo recital in Malta, I will be heading to Brussels for a concert in Bozar, Spain (Galicia) and in various cities in Italy. I am also preparing for a premiere of a Double Concerto for piano and orchestra (to be performed in the USA). At the same time, I continue to prepare concert programs for record releases in the near future.


Is there a project or collaboration, which you really yearn to do in the future?

I have many dreams that I cannot wait to realize, but the future is unpredictable, so I try to live the present.


Charlene Farrugia will be performing at the Three Palaces Festival on 11 November. Further details can be obtained from the official website

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