Gabi Sultana: ‘There is no manual to life – no one has all the answers’

Maltese pianist Gabi Sultana tells all in our Q&A

Photo: Nicky Scicluna
Photo: Nicky Scicluna

Maltese pianist Gabi Sultana is an internationally acclaimed soloist and chamber musician, especially within the contemporary music scene. Her love for contemporary repertoire, experimental sounds and electronic music has led her to specialize in works composed circa 1950 to the present day. Her passion and ability to bring contemporary compositions to the public have earned her rave reviews from around the globe. Sultana will be performing in Gozo as part of the Victoria International Arts Festival on 17 June.  

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? 

Kiss my better half and make coffee. 

What is the best advice you’ve ever received? 

Be kind to yourself.  

What do you never leave the house without

My keys. 

Pick three words that describe yourself 

Passionate, honest, hard-headed.  

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement? 

Becoming the pianist I am today – always following what I believe I should be doing and playing. 

What is your guiltiest pleasure? 

Ħobza biż-żejt tal-Buchmans. 

What is the most important lesson life has taught you? 

You make your own happiness. 

Property and cars aside what’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought? 

My piano.  

What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger? 

There is no manual to life – no one has all the answers. 

Who’s your inspiration? 

Fransina Abela Brincat – continues to inspire me every day! 

What has been your biggest challenge? 

Two years of COVID.... 

If you weren’t a pianist what would you be doing?    

A lawyer. 

If you could have dinner with any person, dead or alive, who would it be

Gyorgy Ligeti. 

What’s your worst habit? 

Biting my nails. 

What are you like when you’re drunk? 

Loud, talkative and (hopefully) funny. 

Who would you have play you in a film? 

Don’t know. 

What is the trait you most deplore in others? 

Hypocrisy and insensitivity to others. 

What music would you have played at your funeral? 

Alva Noto – Uoon l , and some Señor Coconut to break the ice. 

What is your most treasured material possession? 

My music scores. 

What is your earliest memory? 

Probably my brother Mike (aged six) throwing a tricycle and accidentally throwing it through the glass antiporta! My eldest brother Andrew (8), Mike and myself (2) staring at the aftermath... oops! Luckily no one was injured! 

When did you last cry, and why? 

A few months ago when stress got the better of me. 

What’s your favourite food? 

Any good food! Mediterranean, Thai, Indian, Korean … 

Who’s your favourite person on social media right now? 

Average Rob.  

If you could travel in time, where would you go? 

60s/70s for the music – interesting times for most genres. 

If you could have any superpower, what would it be? 

The ability to tele-transport to any desired location. 

What’s one thing you want to do before you die? 

Visit most of the world. 

What music are you listening to at the moment? 

Currently playing: Consumed (in key) Plastikman with Chilli Gonzales. 

In the shower or when you’re working out, what do you sing/listen to? 

Depends on the work-out and the mood: pounding techno/house for cardio, but silence for Pilates. Luckily I don’t tend to sing in the shower – terrible voice.