Like his colleague Christopher Spiteri, ACM creative broker Glen Zammit plays music, specifically the horn. Unlike him, however, as a kid he was not fond of music at all. “When I was five or six years old I started playing the horn with a local band club. That’s how nearly everyone usually starts here in Malta. That being said, strangely enough I didn’t like anything about music and had no interest in playing any instrument. It just happened that my father decided I should play some instrument, just like my brother. Then, as apparently I had very small lips, the band club thought that the horn would be a perfect fit for me,” he recalls.
“Il-biskuttini f’ħalq il-ħmir,” I thought. No offense there, really. It’s just that my story was the other way round: all I thought as a kid was about rock and pop stars, pulling off guitar solos, and then – since it didn’t go anywhere – about playing football with our beloved Lilly Whites. “One day I’ll pull off some injury time 35-yard screamer and lift the FA Trophy for you. I’ll be the new Gilbert Agius. You’ll be proud dad, I tell you.” My parents weren’t exactly pleased. “Such nonsense! I’d say lots of stars must align before any of that happens. To hell with your Gilberts and your Madonnas! That’s not where the money is anyway. I guess you’d rather get your schoolwork done, son,” I recall my late father telling me. Your typical mid-eighties papa-don’t-preach situation. “Aspiring artists have an unprecedented number of opportunities now. Arts Council Malta has done an awful lot of work to improve things, especially during these last few years. That’s one reason why I am glad to be part of it. I truly feel I belong here,” he tells me.
One would say that his has landed a dream job. His role of creative broker at Arts Council Malta, Glen Zammit acts as the first point of contact for artists, representatives of organisations and the general public. He deals with queries, addresses difficulties, receives and gives feedback, develops ideas, makes contact with entities and other stakeholders. His role includes the organisation of regular sessions and workshops whereby information and good practices are shared and cultural matters debated. In tandem with other Council creative brokers, he also facilitates networking between peers and other interested parties and advises prospective funding schemes applicants about which initiatives and grants suit their projects best. Previously Zammit had also worked in the informational technology sector at a local leading private financial institution. On the face of it, I really doubt he misses those days.
Zammit educational accomplishment are quite diverse. He holds a MCAST-BTEC National Diploma in Computing, an ABRSM Diploma in music performance and a post-graduate degree in music from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. The latter was co-financed by the Joseph Calleja Foundation, the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra Scholarship Scheme and the Malta Arts Scholarships. During these two years Glen “Eventually music grew on me, but the tides were turning. By the time I seemed to have settled for a “normal” job, my parents started to have second thoughts about my undying music ambitions. Actually they started to sound a bit like yours,” he joked. I cringe for a while on my couch.
Nonetheless, thank goodness, Zammit had other ideas. He started playing music at the early age of ten at the Johann Strauss School of Music with Philip Psaila and later on with former principal horn of the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra Emanuel Spagnol. Then he continued pursuing his studies with Paul Borg and Jose García Gutiérrez. He has performed in various prestigious locations around the Maltese islands, including the Manoel Theatre, the Mediterranean Conference Centre, St. John’s Co-Cathedral and Casino Maltese. He has also attended several masterclasses with Klaus Zayer, Will Sanders, Esa Tapani, Szabolcs Zempléni, Markus Maskuniitti, Christoph Eß, John Ryan, Froydin Ree Wekre, Jeff Bryant and Jonathan Lipton.
As an ensemble player, he performed with several duos, trios and orchestras. Between 2010 and 2015, he was principal horn of the Malta Youth Orchestra and BISYOC youth orchestra (UK). For two seasons (2012-2013 and 2015-2016), he was reserve player with the European Union Youth Orchestra. He also plays regularly with the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2015, Zammit was on tour with the World Youth Philharmonic Orchestra tour in New York with the final concert at Carnegie Hall as part of the Play for Peace event organised by the United Nations Organisation. In 2016 he took part in the Festival d’Aix-En-Provence in France and in the Ljubljana Festival. Furthermore, during his time at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland he performed with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Scottish Ballet, Royal Scottish National Orchestra and at the 2017 British Horn Festival.
Zammit has indeed kept his baby. It goes without saying that he must have made his parents proud. As for me, musicwise, all I’ve managed to bring off were some singing jobs, a couple of lyrics and a crash course in air-guitar. Then there were also those Sunday afternoon seven-a-side footy fixtures with my then MUSEUM mates. Eventually I stumbled upon other passions, but that’s a story for another day. “Well, the mentality as regards the arts has improved over the years. Parents seem to be more willing to let their children explore their talents these days. We notice this very often at Arts Council Malta,” pointed out Zammit. I nod in agreement... with a little sense of relief...
Now, at least, modern day Papas won’t preach.