INTERVIEW WITH MUSICIAN LYDIA BUTTIGIEG

Lydia Buttigieg’s versatility in performing both the concert harp and the piano has taken her to be on demand as a solo artist and an orchestral musician alike. She has performed in various prestigious events, such as State and Official Dinners at the Verdala Palace, private concert and events held at the President’s Palace and Auberge di Castille, and during the EU Presidency 2017.

Her latest accomplishment was receiving a doctoral degree from the University of Durham, one of the most prestigious universities in the UK. Her main specialisation is in Musicology and Theoretical Analysis. Besides graduating Bachelor of Arts in Music Studies from the University of Malta, Lydia has various diplomas in harp and piano performance, amongst the Fellowship Diploma in piano accompaniment, for which she was selected by the college examiner to perform during the official ceremonial concert. Lydia has also performed abroad, in the United Kingdom, Greece, Germany and recently Poland, where she holds the post of Principal Harpist with the St Paul Chamber Ensemble.

Eve: Your experience in performing and teaching spans nearly 30 years. What have been your highlights during these last past five years in music?

Lydia Buttigieg: Apart from graduating as Doctor of Philosophy from University of Durham, I would say, teaching advanced students and performing on both the harp and piano are the most important elements in my life. I have seen students who continued to flourish in their musical studies, and for that I am extremely proud and honoured to have accomplished something positive to my students’ academic career.

In addition, the performance side of my career has taken me to some prestigious events. Some of my highlights were when I performed with the Bursa State Philharmonic Orchestra in 2016, held at the MCC, the EU Presidency 2017, and recently, performing in Poland as Principal Harpist with the St Paul Chamber Ensemble as part of the celebrations of the 100th Anniversary of Polish Independence and the 100th Anniversary of the Greater Poland Uprising. Last September, I had the privilege to perform during the Royal Command Performance, and a private ceremony held in Valletta, in collaboration with the Sovereign Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem, under the distinguished patronage of Their Imperial and Royal Highnesses Prince Sandor and Princess Herta Margarete Hapsburg Lothringen.

Eve: Is fashion an important part of your life?

LB: I am not a fanatic on the latest fashion, and I like wearing comfortable clothes. However, dressing up for a concert is a totally different thing. I love wearing beautiful long evening dresses, especially when performing at a public concert. Dressing up in these beautiful evening gowns serves to boost up my energy for the evening. One of the good things of being a lady!

Eve: What are your views about commercial music?

LB: Being drawn to classical music from a very young age has developed itself to be an integral part of my life. When one compares classical music to the current so-called ‘noise’, in my opinion, that is being composed nowadays, leaves much to be desired. Personally, I prefer to hear some chill-out music that relaxes me during my ‘free’ time, rather than listening to the constant hammering of strong repulsive sounds. Simplicity is the glory of expression, according to Walt Whitman.

Eve: If any of our readers were interested in trying to break into music, what would you recommend them to start with?

LB: It’s a question of personality, I think. Some people like classical music simply because they love hearing beautiful melodies, while others tend to go for a more contemporary style, or even avant-garde music. One needs to determine whether people are ready to sacrifice a substantial amount of hours to studying that particular instrument, or just enjoy listening to their preferred music.

Eve: Not a lot of people are used to hearing a harp on frequent occasions. What is special about the harp?

LB: The harp is a string instrument that draws the listener to appreciate the beauty of its sound and for its aesthetic perfection. There are various types of harps, small ones – the so-called celtic harps, and then there are the concert grand harps which are the larger instruments usually played at orchestras. Apart from being a very large instrument to manoeuvre from one place to another, it is a very expensive instrument that requires constant maintenance. Although it is a very large instrument, the harp has a unique and angelic sound that mesmerises the listener to listen to more.

Eve: Where do you see yourself in ten years time?

LB: Hopefully I will have my own CD and more concerts to perform abroad, both as a solo harpist, and also, as an orchestral musician.