Natascha Chircop: 'Be humble, there is always something new to learn. Don’t criticise, look at yourself first'

Pianist/flautist Natascha Chircop tells all in our Q&A

Pianist, flautist and music tutor. Together with Marco Rivoltini she is presently preparing for a piano duet concert as part of the MPO Chamber Series, on 3 March, at the Robert Sammut Hall, Floriana.

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

Look at my watch and try to find every plausible reason to sleep some more. Then I read the news headlines.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Believe in yourself. Be humble, there is always something new to learn. Don’t criticise, look at yourself first.

What do you never leave the house without?

My phone, my purse and finally, tissues… you never know when you are going to sneeze. Also, my intention is to never leave my house without my keys, but they have a nasty habit of wandering off to strange locations very frequently.

Pick three words that describe yourself

Straight-forward, reserved and flexible (not physically).

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

The dynamics of my family. With dynamics I mean the emotional forces that control the stability of the relationships people have with each other.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Seeing Christmas films... I can be sure of a happy cheesy ending to put me in a good mood. Moreover, most of them take place in snowy environments, which is a plus.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Life has taught me to always do the right thing, or rather, to do what I strongly believe is right. It might not be easy, but at the end I learnt that by doing it I can live better with myself.

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

My flute.  My family is made up of five members:  three human beings, the cat and the flute. The cat and the flute basically have the same standing – two babies.  Just that the flute gets more of the PLEASE HANDLE GENTLY AND WITH CARE!!

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

I wish I could have learnt to see things from the other person’s perspective at a young age as it would have helped me be more empathetic. On the same lines, being always open to different point of views from a young age can be enlightening.  Also, a smile goes a long way.

Who’s your inspiration?

My inspiration was my father. A quiet, upstanding family man of few words but to the point, coherent in his actions and with an extremely creative imagination. They are very big shoes to fill… in fact now they are still empty.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Trying not to obsess over inaccuracies, imprecisions and inconsistencies. This challenging process has been going on for decades and I must admit that I have hardly seen any improvement yet... but I am still hopeful for the future.

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

I would be a photographer for the National Geographic.      

Do you believe in God?   

Yes. Even if we decide to believe in the Big Bang Theory there must be a higher entity to have triggered it all.

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

Without any doubt, with my dad who passed away. Hopefully it would be many dinners or a never ending one.

What’s your worst habit?

I tend to leave all my shoes outside of their cupboard, on display. When they become too much my husband says: ‘Are we having a sale soon?’

What are you like when you’re drunk?

I do not ever get drunk... not because I do not drink though. The key word here is self-control, though I still have to decide whether it is a positive or a negative trait.

Who would you have play you in a film?

Sandra Bullock. I like her interpretation of The Unforgivable, The Blind Side and Gravity.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Damaging other people’s reputation, just because... I find that there can really be no justification to bad-mouth anyone.

What music would you have played at your funeral?

Grieg, Peer Gynt Suite No 1 Op 46, Morning. For me it signifies a new start. Obviously on the flute please…

What is your most treasured material possession?

1st place goes to some paintings by my father, 2nd place goes to my camera, 3rd place goes to my aquarium.

What is your earliest memory?

Me crawling on cold tiles (couldn’t walk yet) to a low orange cabinet with silver handles and stealing cream cheese.

When did you last cry, and why?

I was re-reading Marley and Me a couple of weeks ago, and as always, this book makes me laugh in the beginning and cry at the end when this crazy, boisterous and loveable labrador, after 13 years of living with his family, finally reaches his old age suffering from deafness and arthritis and dies of a stomach disorder.

Who would you most like to meet?

Bach.  He was such a complex person with an unfathomably brilliant mind. The way he structured his intricate works with engineer-like precision, while still conveying the emotional aspect is phenomenal. I could listen to his keyboard pieces for ever without getting bored.

What’s your favourite food?

Dessert without any doubt. Any type, shape or flavour. French pastries would win, with Italian pastries being a close second.

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

My friends can confirm that I am not a fan of social media.

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

About half a century back, in Malta. I still have very fond memories of playing outside in our side street because no cars ever passed! I also have vivid memories of the traditional Maltese houses with coloured wooden doors and balconies on the coastline of Sliema, St Paul’s Bay and Marsaskala. I would love to see them again.

What book are you reading right now?

The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe.

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

I would choose the power of being able to predict the future. Just imagine that if by seeing the future, we could perhaps be able to avoid wars, or prepare better for catastrophes and tragedies, give help before it is too late, etc, etc

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

I would love to see the Aurora Borealis in North Norway. I imagine it would look like a ballet of dancing lights with an incredible colour palette. One of nature’s beautiful marvels which should teach us to respect and nurture our environment so much more!

What music are you listening to now?

Being a musician by profession, my targeted listening habits usually revolve around my work necessities.  For example, I am preparing a piece by Ibert with a student so I will listen to different interpretations of it.

In the shower, or when you are working out what do you sing or listen to?

I do not sing in the shower or anywhere else for that matter, and I do not exactly work out either.  My automatic default would be any symphonic music of the 19th century.