Colin Attard: 'Who's my inspiration? Artistically speaking, it is my uncle, the late Mro Joseph Vella'

Gozitan musician Colin Attard tells all in our Q&A

Colin Attard is a Gozitan musician. A key player in the development of concert activity in Gozo, he is very much associated with operatic productions. He is the musical/artistic director of the Aurora Theatre and its parent organisation, the Leone Philharmonic Society, as well as of the Gaulitanus Choir and its Gaulitana: A Festival of Music.

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

Kick off the day ahead!

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Well, let me mention two. Grandpa used to reiterate that “no one would wash your face so that you would look better than him”. A friend, much older than me, once told me that “the most difficult thing in life is raising up a family”. I’ve tried to keep these pieces of advice in perspective as much as possible – though not always successfully!

What do you never leave the house without?

Wallet, keys and mobile – as, I assume, all do.

Pick three words that describe yourself

Bubbly, resolute, and energetic.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

Passing on positive emotions and feelings through my musical do, thus making life sound a bit more joyful and feel less burdensome. “Keep making people happy!”, a former teacher (and an ex-student of mine) told me some years back, upon meeting casually after some years. I consider this as an achievement which substantially helps me to keep soldiering on irrespectively.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Eating pasta in abundant portions.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Don’t trust blindly and don’t take anything or anyone for granted, as you’ll be in for some unexpected, sometimes painful, surprises.

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

Well, I don’t even own a car. I’m one of the few around who don’t drive. So, possibly, my piano.

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

That I would end up having a fully-fledged musical career. I would, probably, have tried to pursue some different paths and taken a few more career-enhancing decisions.

Who’s your inspiration?

Artistically speaking, it is my uncle, the late Mro Joseph Vella. He was my teacher, mentor, and role model. Otherwise, it is my late father, Joseph, especially for two traits. He was a very determined person - my father never threw the towel in so easily, always trying to work around the various odds, and many times, to my amazement, succeeding. Besides, while, of course, having his own beliefs, sympathies and associations, he had great respect towards the ‘adversary’.

What has been your biggest challenge?

I am a proud Gozitan, who has and still gives his all for the advancement of cultural life in Gozo. I am often considered as one of the key players who have contributed to Gozo’s ever-increasing relevance on the national and international cultural map. Indeed, achieving this and becoming a household name in artistic circles whilst opting to reside in Gozo – with all its restrictions, more so in pre-social media days – was a significant challenge.

If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?

I would have loved to do a sports-orientated career. I was a keen sportsman, practicing varioaus disciplines, particularly football, and following all types of sport. I still follow international football quite passionately. Actually, I believe that my childhood dreams were perhaps more sport-orientated than otherwise. Having said that, I’m a graduate in accountancy – who forfeited a just-initiated potentially prosperous career in the civil service when asked to join the teaching faculty at the newly-founded Gozo School of Music in 1988.

Do you believe in God?

Absolutely. The transcendental, as compared to the worldly, is the only just and fair order.

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

My late dad, making up for lost time.

What’s your worst habit?

Over-considering most matters, being too democratic, and taking long to decide.

What are you like when you’re drunk?

Won’t know; I never got drunk!

Who would you have play you in a film?

One makes up one’s own life, and life is a film. So, I play myself throughout.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

That of maliciously putting others in a bad light for opportunistic reasons or due to jealousy.

What is your most treasured material possession?

Nothing really. I treasure life, family and real friendship, as well as my musical world.

What is your earliest memory?

Maybe, passing whole weekends at the Gozo football ground with my father, whenever a Victoria Hotspurs team was playing, also being the first team’s mascot. Dad was a very committed committee member.

When did you last cry, and why?

Won’t know. Maybe, I should cry more. As scientifically proven, it helps to release stress and improve one’s mood.

Who would you most like to meet?

No one in particular. Recently, I happened to take a cab driven by a Nigerian national. The driver enthusiastically opined that “whereas most Nigerians own very little but are happy and enjoy their simple lives, many Maltese are quite well-off, own their property but still are not happy”. Food for thought! Indeed, such unexpected meetings with ‘anonymous’ persons often open new perspectives which ‘dream’ meetings possibly won’t.

What’s your favourite food?

The one which is my guiltiest pleasure of course: pasta.

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

Truly, I’m not a social media person.

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

Maybe Vienna at the time of the 1st Viennese school, when the great classical composers were developing the musical forms into structures of great perfection and aesthetic beauty. If I could, I would love to see today’s very fast-growing physical structures in our country develop with similar aesthetic tastes.   

What book are you reading right now?

One about Don Lorenzo Milani – an Italian priest who was emarginated by the Florentine Curia in the 1950s in view of his radical ideas which denounced the inequalities of an educational system which was class-based or which catered only for believers. Considered too dangerous, he was ‘exiled’ to a remote and barely-accessible hamlet in the Tuscan mountains. Notwithstanding, he was not disheartened and manged to do wonders with his innovative educational system. His greatness has been acknowledged only recently, and, finally, even by the Catholic Church’s hierarchy.

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

Eliminating injustice, hardship and poverty.

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

Just keep doing what I’m doing, but in a better way.

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

Probably, the music I’m either conducting or composing at the time.