Passing on the guitar to future generations | Evan Plumpton

Ahead of his performance at this year’s edition of Ghanafest, we spoke to guitarist Evan Plumpton about his thirty-year experience as a guitar player and tutor, and what we can expect from his performance at the folk song festival.

Evan Plumpton
Evan Plumpton

Evan Plumpton has contributed considerably to classical guitar for more than three decades. Having been tutored by Simon Schembri (Malta), John Mills and Carlos Bonell (England) and Domenico Spada (Italy), he has also studied for a Masters Degree in guitar under the supervision of Professor Michael Laus, director of the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra and renowned Welsh guitar maestro John Mills.

A member of the RGT (registered guitar tutor) and a regular teacher at Johann Strauss School of Music and has performed regularly at various venues, as well as recitals for radio and television. He has also fared well internationally with concerts at the Tunisian Guitar Festival and contacts with various renowned names.

Your career encompasses classical and folk music. How have you managed to balance such genres?

I have a teaching experience that goes back about 30 years. I teach classical guitar, rock and pop together with bass guitar, as well as being a registered guitar tutor. I am a full time music teacher (primary school). Teaching is my passion and will keep looking forward to do it, as this allows me to help other guitar enthusiasts to improve, while continuing to promote the guitar as an important instrument.

Six years ago, I began a project that would help my students get concert spots. So, I gave birth of a new group entitled Guitar Ensemble. This group is basically composed of students, ranging from beginners to advanced. We meet regularly and play different kind of musical genres in front of audiences. A couple of years ago, guitar ensemble had the opportunity to play at: President’s Palace (Citrus Festival), Christmas concerts (St Vincent De Paul), Zejt iz-Zejtun and Notte Bianca. During last year’s Notte Bianca we had the opportunity to work on a new project based on traditional folk music.

This was a big challenge for myself together with my group since we never played such genre. I started making musical arrangements for the whole group and started with rehearsals and off we go… the project worked very well. Although it is ghana I still managed to balance the genre and give it a taste of modern tempos that includes rock and blues.

You have met some great talents, notably Julian Bream and John Williams. What are your recollections?

Yes, I had the opportunity to attend in London for a classical guitar festival I took part and also participated and also had master classes with Alirio Diaz, Garry Ryan and Carlos Bonell. I also attended lectures and recitals of John Williams. These are experiences that I will always cherish. I had the opportunity to study guitar with John Mills in Cardiff, Wales. There, I attended regularly and visited the college every four months over a period of two years.

 How have you been preparing for this year’s Ghanafest perfomance?

I’m really looking forward to the Ghanafest concert. Together with my band, we’re working very hard to prepare for this concert. We will be playing together with female singers, which will be a first for us. We will also be playing a piece composed by Ruben Zahra and adapted by myself to be played for my guitar ensemble (Helu Lehnek). We will also be playing some traditional folk music of Maltese composers. I think that this is going to be great fun and my group is also looking forward to deliver their full to show there great talent.

Are young Maltese musicians are addressing new folk styles?

Thanks to festivals such as Ghanafest, young Maltese musicians have more opportunity to listen and also to play folk music, which is blended well with traditional to modern styles. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Ghanafest organisers for their good work, and to thank them for allowing me to form part of this event. I hope that this year’s edition of the festival will open more doors for future participation and more promotion of Maltese music.

This year’s edition of Ghanafest – Malta Mediterranean Folk Music Festival 2015 will take place over June 12-14 at 19:00 at Argotti Gardens, Floriana Tickets are at €3 per night or €7 for a three-day block ticket available at the door. For more information and a full programme, log on to: