Cultural Catch Up: Alexander Vella Gregory
Alexander Vella Gregory is a freelance musician, which, as he puts it, roughly translates into “a lot of work for little money”. He is a pianist and composer, but I does a lot of related things, including teaching and cultural journalism.
He is currently involved in a number of projects, including as Artistic Director of Malta’s only male choir Cappella Sanctae Catharinae (www.cscmalta.com) and is a member of the recently formed Valletta Baroque Festival Ensemble.
Which is your favourite type of cultural event?
Do I have to choose? I am as comfortable (and happy) watching contemporary theatre as I am at a village festa. I am attracted to anything that unravels the human condition.
Which is your favourite film and why?
I hate these questions…choosing the best or one’s favourite always implies that everything else is slightly inferior. So I will be boring, and say, I don’t have a favourite film.
Which book do you wish you had written?
Ah…now this is different! The Lord of the Rings! There…that gave me away as a nerd. The thing is, it is not a book (well technically, it’s THREE books!)…it is a whole universe. Tolkien managed to encompass the complexity of the human psyche and produced a masterpiece.
Which cultural experience did you enjoy most, ever?
I would have to go for all the performances I’ve done with Cappella Sanctae Catharinae. A great team… I am proud to be part of it.
Which is your top travel destination for culture?
Europe. OK…so technically it is a continent, but the EU permits artists to travel around freely, which means that you can see the same artists in any major European city. I hate how Maltese people are so stuck to London, when there is a whole continent out there to explore.
Which play/theatrical experience do you remember most vividly and why?
The Junior College Soirée 2002. It was my first-ever experience of a big production, and there I immediately understood what theatre was all about: the hard work, the clash of egos, the volatile friendships and the indestructible bonds. But most of all, I had my first taste of the power that theatre can exert, and that gave me a sense of artistic responsibility.
Locally, which recent cultural event stands out most in your mind and why?
The inauguration of the recently restored Broadcasting House. Apart from being a slick and sharp show, it had a new sense of cultural maturity. There is something fresh about it. I cannot as yet put my finger on it, but it had a new sense of pride.
Which is your favourite cultural space/location and why?
I like unusual spaces. I mean, yes there are some very fine local cultural venues, and, of course, abroad too. But I like to imagine (and work for) impossible things; Gounod’s Faust in front of and inside Mdina Cathedral, Shakespeare’s King Lear at Torri l-Aħmar, a Bach recital in an abandoned factory…
Which cultural professional do you look up to/admire most and why?
The backstage and tech crew. They are the ones who do the hard work. Most artists couldn’t hammer a nail or wire a set to save their lives. They are the ones who keep us going.
How do you hope culture in Malta will continue to develop?
Less egos, more art, please!
What culture advice/tip can you offer readers?
Try it out. You never know what you could discover. Sure, sometimes you will be disappointed, or even feel indifferent…but sometimes you will experience something so beautiful and profound that your life will never be the same again. That moment is worth a lifetime.