INTERVIEW WITH CONDUCTOR ALEXEI GALEA CAVALLAZZI

Alexei Galea Cavallazzi has served as jury member in various international and national music competitions. He is also the music director of the Mediterranean Conference Centre, which has climbed to the ranks of top cultural venues. Not only his Russian-sounding first name helps him feel at home in Russia: he has been awarded the Union Federation medal by the Russian Parliament for his contribution to culture.

After having begun the violin course at the Royal College of Music in London, Alexei took up AN offer at Oxford University, and later went on to study piano at the Tchaikovsky Conservatiore in Moscow, with the class of the legendary Viktor Merzhanov. His international career has taken him to various countries and cities in Russia and around Europe as conductor of some of the most prestigious orchestras in the world.

Eve: What has been the highlight of the last five years?

Alexei Galea Cavallazzi: Being awarded the Union federation medal for my contribution to culture in 2013 by the Russian parliament is of course an honour. When it comes to performances, the project which materialised with the St Petersburg Capella Orchestra is one which comes to mind not only because the programme was one which I had a free hand in choosing, but also because of the world-class level of the orchestra. The concert was held in St Petersburg on the 14th June to a full house and repeated on the 17th June at the Mediterranean conference Centre. The Capella hall in St Petersburg is one of the most prestigious halls in the world. This year I will have conducted in no fewer than five Russian cities.

Eve: You have conducted many prestigious orchestras abroad, but as yet have not been invited to conduct MPO. What are your comments in regards this?

AGC: Being a Maltese citizen and living mostly in Malta, I am sure that I can contribute more in this respect. If I had the influence in Malta as I have in other places then this would have already happened. But thankfully, there are countless opportunities abroad and for every closed door there are plenty of open ones.

The MCC has undoubtedly raised the standards of orchestral concerts in Malta due to its commitment with prestigious orchestras and the high level of soloists and conducting. We will continue to collaborate with orchestras from abroad producing serious programmes. The MCC is attempting to fill in the need we have of producing serious classical concerts for children in which they can be exposed to serious music in a serious concert context. In February the MCC produced a children’s concert featuring Bruckner, Tchaikovsky, and Beethoven.

Eve: For anyone starting off in this line of work, what would you suggest as the ideal kit?

AGC: Firstly, one has to play a musical instrument. For anyone conducting there can be little advice apart from the obvious: learning the physical skill of conducting. It is of little use in certain situations, though because every orchestra and every acoustic and situation require a different reaction from the conductor. Unlike a musical instrument, the orchestra is alive, therefore there is very little in the way of concrete advice which applies to all situations.

Perhaps I’d say that the most important thing is that one has to have a profound idea of what the music should sound like. All the rest will follow if the idea exists. One has to know the text extremely well. The work is done during rehearsals. The actual performance is only the tip of the iceberg.

Also, be “nice” to the musicians, at least when not rehearsing. If one can be nice during rehearsals as well that’s even better.

Eve: Is there a type of music you cannot stand?

AGC: I am not fond of any popular or jazz music. I wouldn’t say that I can’t stand them. I simply don’t expose myself to them.