Clifford Borg Quotes
"Clifford Borg music at times is big music without sounding pretentious"

Eric Montfort
Music Critic - di-ve.com - 2012

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FINDING KEYS TO SUCCESS - 2008

FINDING KEYS TO SUCCESS-2008

MARIE BENOIT MALTA INDEPENDENT

Marie Benoît discovers CLIFFORD BORG at the Bvlgari lunch at Malta Hilton where he was tickling the ivories. She finds that he not only plays the piano but is busy fine-tuning his compositions for the launch of his second new age album which was recorded in Brussels in 2006

Sterling Jewellers always do things properly. Not least the elegant lunch at Malta Hilton for some 20 ladies to celebrate the launch of Bvlgari. I noticed the pianist in the background as he was playing the kind of music that I enjoy: lots of Mina songs, Amadeo Minghi, Ennio Morricone, Bocelli, Besame Mucho, Evita and Chopin’s Nocturne in E Flat major thrown in to really make me listen. Could I fail to notice him? I wasn’t the only one either. Paula was humming away and mouthing the words of the Mina songs… So I asked my talented friend, the photographer Brian Grech who the pianist was and Brian immediately gave me a little biography of Clifford Borg and then sent me his email address. He had photographed him.

Clifford’s father Joseph, left Malta when he was just 15 years old. “My father made a career in Australia as a dancer mostly teaching free style dancing such as jive and Latin and, in 1964, he won a dancing competition in New South Wales. There were 2,000 entries so it was quite an achievement. He used to dance on Channel 9 in a show called Band Stand in the 1950s with Brian Henderson.

After teaching dancing for a number of years Joseph made a foray into music, successfully. He played the drums but at the age of 40 he returned to Malta, got married and opened a restaurant. “He wanted me to start learning the piano. I wanted to play the drums, but he insisted that with piano I had the chance of a more interesting career.” So, at the age of five Clifford started learning the piano. By the age of nine, his father, and his two sisters – Janice who plays the bass and sings and Elizabeth, a singer – started performing together at their family restaurant. “We played lots of different styles as well as standard music for a largely British audience. We also managed to play extensively in different hotels around Malta as well as on local TV. In the meantime I studied piano privately and by the age of 24 I was awarded the Diploma in Piano (ALCM). I was also reading for a BSc in Biology and Chemistry at the same time and it was quite difficult to juggle university and music.”

To Clifford music is a vehicle for improvisation and for performance. He doesn’t get caught up in any particular type of music. He likes everything and goes more towards the essence of music, which allows him to perform in any style or in any genre. He has already launched a CD entitled Drifted and he is planning to launch another CD Origin of his compositions: “Yes I am planning to launch my second CD in Brussels, Paris and Malta this year. I recorded the piano CD in Brussels where I lived for some four years. These CDs are my very own voice in music and I’m having fun doing it. Every piano has a personality and it is up to the pianist to give it life.”

What was he doing in Brussels? In 2003, Clifford was interviewed for a post as a national expert for Malta in DG AGRI at the European Commission. He comments: “The post was in Rural Development. I applied and was selected. Originally, it was for a duration of six months but I managed stay on for four years which is the maximum one can stay.”

In 2005, at the same time he also had to work for Basilicata “which was difficult as it meant working in Italian. Also, meetings were held in French, which meant I had to learn the French language.” Did he find the time to work on his music in Brussels? “During those four years in Brussels I managed to give some piano concerts, one in London, two in Brussels; in Amsterdam, Egypt, Germany and Paris. In Malta I played at the Teatru Unplugged in 2004.”

Clifford returned to Malta in December of last year. “So after such a long absence, it was quite difficult to get into the system again. Actually playing for the launch of Bvlgari at the Hilton was the first time I played during these six months of my stay here. My last performance was actually a concert I did in Paris at Salle Rossini last December. Ambassador Vicky Ann Cremona attended.”

He explains that playing the piano is not his full-time job. He works as scientific officer at the Plant Health Department within the Ministry of Resources and Rural Affairs. In the evenings he would not mind playing twice a week in a five-star hotel. “But what I like doing best is giving piano recitals performing my compositions.” You may take a look at some of Clifford’s performances on his site www.cliffordborg.com in the performances section.

Which kind of music does he like playing most of all? “I think my absolute favourite are my own compositions. But I also enjoy playing from musicals as well as classical music – mostly music by French composers and music from soundtracks. And of course then there’s Gershwin. And my favourite song ever is Gloomy Sunday. The background of the song is very haunting. As for classical music Pavane pour une infante défunte and Clair de lune. And now I am falling in love with Tango music.”

When he has some time to spare what does he like doing best of all? “I like gardening, going to the gym, listening to music, discovering new music, meeting friends, listening to friends, playing tennis, looking after my fish, travelling, talking about languages, attending concerts and art galleries and reading. There is never enough time for all of this…”

To go back to the Bvlgari lunch where it all started. How did he put together the programme? “Mrs Romina Grech Fenech of Sterling Jewellers asked me if I could play some Italian music or music related to Italy and also to add some classical music if possible. So I got really into it and started searching for my favourite Italian music on the net. I did not have the notes of some of the songs I wanted to play, so I managed to find the chords on the net and added the main melody to the chords. I’m happy you found it enjoyable. My goal, whenever I perform is to inspire and have fun myself. An appreciative audience is essential… I send out my music and in return, they send me back a certain kind of energy…”

 

 

 

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