Sigmund Mifsud: “Armenia is a beautiful country, but what struck me the most is its people”
– As I know you have already visited Armenia. What has impressed you most?
– Armenia is a beautiful country, but what struck me the most is its people. I found Armenians to be very helpful and hospitable, making me feel right at home. They’re honest and direct – what you see is what you get – and you can rest assured that you’ll be well-fed if you’re ever a guest at an Armenian home.
– What should the Maltese know about Armenians and Armenian culture?
In addition to what I’ve said, I also found Armenians to be particularly proud of their culture and their rich history, and keen to share their heritage with the world. After all, although the present republic only achieved independence recently, Armenia is an ancient country – the first in the world to adopt Christianity as a state religion in 301AD. The Maltese can easily relate to this. After all, Malta’s own history spans millennia, and our heritage is one of the things we are most proud of.
– What do you feel when you listen to Armenian music?
Armenia’s location and its history have made it a cultural crossroad, bridging east and west, and music is perhaps its most notable cultural export. Komitas’ music – as well as the folk songs he compiled – is not only a testament to a rich and distinctive musical tradition, but also highlights the influences that many cultures have brought over the centuries. As someone who has spent much of his life in an orchestra, as a musician and as an executive chairman, I am always interested how classical music can incorporate native musical traditions, and Khachaturian’s music is a brilliant example of this. By adapting traditional Armenian melodies in symphonic and other classical works, he not only enriched the classical repertoire, but also helped ensure many people around the world were exposed to Armenian music.
– How do you think is it possible to solve political conflicts through culture?
I feel that there is a lot of value that can be gained from collaborating through music, as it is truly a universal language. Such collaborations not only bring together different musical cultures to create something new; they can also help different peoples find common ground.
– What do you think is the difference between classical music and popular music?
The distinction between the two is not always clear cut – after all, classical music has influenced popular music, and the opposite is also true. The main difference, I feel, is in the way the music is experienced. Popular music naturally tends to be based on more direct tunes, which are easier to relate to. On the other hand, classical music offers more depth: initially less accessible, but in the end, it can offer a more rewarding experience.
– What music do you like to listen to, in addition to the classical music?
While there’s a lot I could mention, I have to place Miles Davis above everything else.