The Malta Independent 12 July 2024, Friday
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A Musical Rendezvous with Frank Bonnici and friends

Marie Benoît Saturday, 13 January 2024, 08:05 Last update: about 7 months ago

Pianist and composer FRANK BONNICI left for Prague some eight years ago to start a new chapter in his life. A talented pianist he is back in Malta to share his enthusiasm and his music at the Palazzo de la Salle next Wednesday. Marie Benoît poses a few questions

What have you been doing in the music world in Prague and outside it since we last spoke in June?

 

Earlier this year one of the directors at the Pianotéka showroom in Prague, Jakub Zahradnik, had approached me to compose a suitable contemporary piece for the opening of a film, Piano Crossroads, a silent film in which pianos are to be heard but not seen.  Five pianists were selected for this project and I was one of them.   We were to play in locations around Prague: The Castle, selected chapels and so on.

My role in the film was to perform on a 1924 walnut piano, in Branik.  The other pianists performed classical pieces on other pianos in different areas in Prague; this was during the Covid 19 period. I was very lucky to have an audience but the others weren't so lucky.  

 Art has it's frustrations.

Piano Crossroads is being shown at leading theatres like Kino Pilotu cinema which has two halls with a total capacity of 150 seats and a cosy mini-hall for 16 spectators. It screens current block busters and art films. It will also be shown at the Lucerna and other cinemas around Prague.

 

What about CDs? I know you had one up your sleeve.

This year I finally released a CD in memory of Karel Hunza (Music conductor, saxophonist, pianist) that we had recorded at The Corinthia Hotel in Prague and mastered in Japan. A memorial party was dedicated to him for family and friends where I got to sign the CDs.

 

Any developments with the Aria Art Deco Hotel?

Yes, I am happy to say. As you know this is where only top pianists are engaged. To be acknowledged as one of these pianists is quite an achievement.  At the beginning of last year I was certified as one of the promoting pianists in the Czech Republic 2022-2023 at The Aria Art Deco Hotel in Prague. I am naturally very pleased. Both the Corinthia in Prague and the Aria Hotel were our official sponsors for the CD. The Aria brings artists and musicians to perform for a niche audience with VIPs such as Ivanka Trump, the Czech actress, Zlata Adamovska and other VIPs.

You had told me when we last met in Malta that you have several plans, one is to have a concert here. The day has now arrived. Can you please tell our readers something about the concert next Wednesday?

Yes, I decided to go ahead with a concert in Malta.  It gives me pleasure to play for a local audience on my native island. This I have not done for years. I hope to fill the hall at Palazzo de la Salle next Wednesday 17th  and that the audience, too, will find it enjoyable. The theme is film music - a mixture of 20th and 21st music.   It will be a mini-concert of around 1hr 15 minutes.  Four artists will be participating including myself at the piano. Three are from Malta - one Joe Camilleri better known as Bibi comes from a musical family in Valletta. He is our percussionist. The guitarist is a Peruvian who lives in Malta.

The music is more on the semi- classical style from the 20th and 21st century: soul, romantic. I hope the audience will find it enjoyable. We plan to include music from Il Postino, Love Story, Exodus, Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter, Phantom of the Opera and others.

 

What else have you been composing lately?

I composed a piece for a project on which we are  working  for this year between Czech and Maltese artists. It has a Latino twist. I will perform it at the concert next Wednesday. The lyrics are ready. I am in touch with the singer and it should be perfect. However it will be performed without a vocalist at Wednesday's concert.

 

What kind of music do you like best or are you one of those people who like most types of music?

 

Well, I love Jazz. An uncle taught me Dixieland music, 12-bar-blues (one of the most prominent chord progressions in popular music), Honky Tonk,  Jazz progressive  music and so on.

Sometimes I think of my piano teacher. She was very loving, not at all "aggressive" and favoured the Romantic classic period. Then there was my theory and harmony teacher and I think of Choral (Polyphonic) music, Madrigals, Baroque... the medieval era. It was these two teachers who lay the foundations and gave me a love of music.

I remember I performed at several churches in Malta trying some fugues on the church organ. I love the sound of the organ... so rich, so majestic.

To answer your question. What  kind of music do I like best? Music in my life has come in stages. Had you asked me this question some ten years ago I would definitely have answered Jazz, I have always loved Jazz. Now that I am older and more experienced, I prefer film music accompanying a story.  Life changes us."

 

Frank assures me that his new life in Prague involves much hard work, frequent travel and many late nights. He has also played at piano exhibitions, one of them in a subway. After eight years he has a substantial following. His parting word: "I simply love what I do. I enjoy creating music, playing it and giving pleasure to others. I am looking forward to Wednesday as are the other musicians. We are going to enjoy ourselves and hopefully so is the audience.

 

Frank and Friends will be playing at Palazzo de La Salle, Valletta next Wednesday, 17th January at 7pm.  Tickets at ticketline.com.mt


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