Date of Birth: 4th March 1949
Where do you live: Sliema
Star Sign: Pisces
Main occupation: Wife & Mother
Media-related occupation: A lifetime dedicated to singing, vocal tuition & musical direction
From a very early age, Marie Therese Vassallo studied violin, guitar and singing with her father, Maestro Frank Vassallo. She later took up the piano. In 1985, she was awarded two scholarships by the French Government and consequently furthered her studies in vocal technique and interpretation in Nice, France, at the Academie Internationale de Formation Musicale. In Nice, Ms Vassallo was awarded two diplomas and she was invited to give various recitals. In 2002, Ms Vassallo was awarded a London College of Music Diploma while in 2004, she was awarded a Licentiate from the same College.
Over the years, Ms Vassallo has won several international singing competitions, such as the Festival Del Grappolo D’Oro, the Vulcano D’Oro and the Festival Della Canzone Mediterranea. In 1986 and 1987, Ms Vassallo represented Malta in the April Spring Friendship Art Festival in D.P.R. Korea. In 1997, she represented Malta in Tunisia in an international gathering of artists from all over the Mediterranean.
Ms Vassallo was one of the founders of the Ghaqda Kantanti Lirici Maltin (Association of Maltese Lyrical Singers) and has been its President since 1990. She is involved in the organisation and presentation of concerts all over the Maltese Islands. Since 1990 and for many years after that, she held the position of Concert Organiser of the Malta Cultural Institute becoming its Director in May 2004.
Ms Vassallo has performed extensively both in Malta and abroad. Her repertoire includes a very wide range of operas, oratorios, musicals and sacred music, both by Maltese and foreign composers.
She is also an Associate Member of the Performing Rights Society of London as an author. With the co-operation of the Russian Cultural Centre in Valletta, she organises the Melita-Rossia Competition for Maltese Lyrical Singers.
In 1995, Ms Vassallo was awarded the Premio Citta’ di Valletta in recognition of her work in the field of music. In 1996 and again in 2007, Ms Vassallo received a special award from the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Malta in recognition of her work to improve cultural relations between Russia and Malta. In 2014, Ms Vassallo received a medal from the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation in recognition of her work to promote such cultural relationships.
In 2000, Ms Vassallo was invited by the Russian Society for Friendship and Cultural Relations to represent Malta on the judging panel of the prestigious Bella Voce International Competition for Lyrical Voices which was held in Moscow.
Ms Vassallo runs the Marie Therese Vassallo Voice Studio. She also directs the choral group Voice Studio Ensemble, which performs regularly in prestigious venues and is the resident choir of Balluta’s parish church. She also holds the position of Director of the MuziKanti Ensemble which is a group of singers and since October 2009 she has been the Director of the 3E Choir at the University of Malta.
In 1967, Ms Vassallo’s song Bit-Tlikki Tlikki, with her lyrics and her father’s music was published by Keith Prowse Publishing Co. Ltd., London and also by Peter Morris, Milan.
In 1979, Gulf Publishing Co. Ltd. issued Stejjer Ghal Qabel Jidlam, poems and stories by Oliver Friggieri to her music.
Marie Therese Vassallo is married to Charles Axiak who is also a musician and they have two sons.
How did you first discover that you had a talent for singing?
I have loved singing ever since I can remember. From a very early age, I was singing with choirs and studying music. When I was about thirteen years old, I started to play the guitar, which meant that I could accompany myself. I sang in the solo role in an operetta at Sixth Form and I received such good reviews that I just continued from there.
Can you describe your state of mind while singing?
I feel at my best when I am facing an audience and singing. The audience inspires me and I have a very good ‘rapport’ with my audience. I work hard for my performances and I am always prepared to the best of my abilities. I sometimes feel rather ‘tight’ just before a performance, but, once I am out on stage, I am a completely different person and totally absorbed in my performance.
What is it that you cannot live without?
I cannot live without my husband, Charles and without my family who have always supported me in all my activities.
What’s a hobby you spend money on?
I love travelling and that is where I spend most money.
What do you think is your best asset, and why?
My best asset is probably my sense of humour; I always manage to see the funny side in a situation. I can laugh at myself any time.