TUNING IN WITH CHRISTINE DIMECH

Christine-Dimech

Date of Birth: 16th November 1982

Where do you live?  Attard, Malta

Status: Married

Star Sign: Scorpion

Main occupation: Senior Lecturer at MCAST Institute of ICT

Media-related occupation: Saxophonist

Christine Dimech has been playing the saxophone since the age of nine, when she started her musical studies at the Għaqda Mużikali Marija Bambina, Banda Vittorja, Naxxar, under the guidance of saxophonist Edwin Pace. She then continued her studies with Noel Beck, Lawrence Borg and Yvette Maria Galea under whose tutelage she achieved the Fellowship of the London College of Music (FLCM) and the Advanced Certificate of the ABRSM. Currently, she is furthering her studies under the tutelage of Paris-based Italian saxophonist, Antonino Mollica.

In 2001, she won the mature category of the Young Musicians Competition, subsequently being awarded a scholarship at the London College of Music at Thames Valley University in London. There, she mainly studied with saxophonist Steve Cottrell. She has also attended several master classes with world-renowned saxophonists, including Fabrizio Mancuso, Gilles Tressos, Lars Mleklusch, Mario Ciaccio, Sergey Kolasov, Pascal Bonnett and Hayrapet Arakelyan.

In Malta, Christine has had the opportunity to participate in various concerts, television programmes, pantomimes and other productions playing with various orchestras, bands and ensembles, including the renowned Big Band Brothers. She is currently the resident saxophonist of that band.

She has also performed with the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra and the Malta Youth Orchestra on numerous occasions, even as a guest soloist. This gave her the opportunity to play under the prestigious batons of conductors Wayne Marshall, Brian Schembri, Kelly Kuo and Michael Laus, amongst others. Next July 2015, supported by the Malta Arts Fund, she will represent Malta in the prestigious event project I Sassofonisti del Mediterrano and will perform at the World Saxophone Congress in Strasbourg.

She is also committed to providing holistic educational opportunities to upcoming musicians. In fact, she has organised a saxophone festival in 2013 (supported by the Malta Arts Fund), as well as a number of workshops with high calibre international musicians, such as Gilles Tressos and Antonino Mollica. The next project, which is also supported by the Malta Arts Fund, is planned for February 2016 and will include a woodwind ensemble workshop led by Antonino Mollica and world renowned saxophone quartet Quatour Habanera member Fabrizio Mancuso.

Presently, she is also Assistant Music Director and Tutor at L-Għaqda Mużikali Marija Bambina, Banda Vittorja, Naxxar, a role which she has held for the past fifteen years and for which she has organised various concerts and shows.

Tell us about your journey in becoming a saxophonist.

To start, I did not know what a saxophone was until I held one in my hand. To top it all, I was given a soprano saxophone which doesn’t usually come in the shape we’re accustomed to. It was my first teacher’s idea to start me on the saxophone, rather than the clarinet, which I had initially wanted to learn. So it was quite a coincidence that I ended up studying this great instrument!

The journey is ongoing, but it’s so much fun. It’s paved the way for me to meet new people, and has allowed me to see new places and different cultures, experience great moments and emotions and it’s definitely made my life more adventurous. Obviously, it’s not always a joy ride. It’s not easy juggling academic studies and music, as well as a family and a full-time job. I have to rely on constant support from my family. There have been difficult, disheartening times where I had even considered quitting, but just the thought of that left me breathless, and it only lasted for a few dark seconds. Thinking back, it was music and saxophone that actually helped me get through these periods.

Can you describe your state of mind when you are playing the saxophone?

During a performance, I’m fully concentrated and calm. Sometimes, it feels as though I’m in a bubble of my own, a world of my own – one where I can say and express whatever I’m feeling. Performing in front of an audience always gives me an adrenaline rush which makes me look forward to the next event.

During study time, however, it’s not always such a thrill.  There are times when it actually becomes frustrating, especially when I have to practise a technically difficult piece. But that’s part of the package – as someone once said, “There is no glory in practice, but without practice, there is no glory!”

What are your major causes of stress?

Two things stress me out. One of them is shopping for clothes. I simply cannot understand the concept of retail therapy. I detest it and postpone it as much as I can. When it gets to a point where I really need to go shopping, I limit it to no more than one hour, before my nerves get the better of me!

On a more serious note, another situation which I find very stressful is when I have to work in an environment where there’s a lack of trust. This makes it difficult for a person to give his/her best, and conflicts and misunderstandings are frequent.

Besides music, what are some of the other things that you cherish in life?

Family and the importance of spending time together. Unfortunately, our daily schedule is busy and hectic, and it’s sometimes the cause of tension and the lack of communication. Balance is key in any situation. I try to plan out quality time with my husband and daughter. I endeavour to create memories which we’ll be able to recall fondly in the future.

We all know the importance of mentors and people whose greatness inspires us. Who are your great motivators?

My greatest motivators were, without a doubt, my parents. Despite the huge sacrifices they had to make for both my brother and myself, they never stopped supporting us with all the means they could. My mum is still a great supporter and many opportunities might have been lost if she wasn’t there to help me out. I’m sure my dad still follows me from the heavens above, too.

I was also very lucky to have very supportive tutors, who not only taught me the technique and theory of the saxophone and music, but also highlighted the true meaning of the art. They showed me that it’s a means to reach out to people and to be able to communicate using this peaceful language. Music is not selfish and should not be kept amongst the few who are recognised to have a talent. Musicians have the responsibility to share their talent and knowledge without reservation, which is the only way to ensure the art’s continuous development.

What would you do if you were a magician?

I would set up a conservatoire for music and dance – Can magicians do this?