Alexander Vella Gregory is a Maltese musician and composer. He has studied piano with Paul Borg and Joanne Camilleri, and obtained a Fellowship of the London College of Music (FLCM) diploma in 2013. In 2002, he won the Ian Tomlin Napier/Malta Music Scholarship which enabled him to pursue a B.Mus (Hons) degree in composition at the Ian Tomlin School of Music, Napier University, Edinburgh where he graduated in July 2006 with honours. He is active as a composer pianist, accompanist and teacher.
Alexander has performed in many venues both in Malta and abroad, including Edinburgh, Vienna, Italy and Washington DC. Alex Vella Gregory is also very active as a composer, and his works have been performed in Malta, London, Berlin, Paris, Edinburgh, Vienna, Frankfurt, Prague, Finland and the USA.
He is also active in several research projects that focus on the preservation and development of musical heritage including work with the M3p Foundation and Spazju Kreattiv on the work of Charles Clews and Radju Muskettieri and Stage Commandos.
Alexander is currently finishing a Phd in Music Composition with Edinburgh Napier University. Alexander is also the Artistic Director and a founding member of the Cappella Sanctae Catharinae, Malta’s only male choir. He is a Trustee of the Ian Tomlin Malta Edinburgh Music Scholarship Fund, and is also currently a board member for St James Cavalier Centre for Creativity.
This paper looks at a three year long research research process on how the creation of new musical works, can contribute to the development and identity of an urban community, taking Valletta as an example. The focus lies on the multiple narratives that are constantly interwoven in the city’s life. The city is seen not simply as geographical space or a demographic reality, but as a complex web of interlocking narratives that often contradict the official narrative.
These narratives form the basis of a series of new musical works that present Valletta to the world as a contemporary city. The compositional process leading up to the final work is a mixture of academic research, direct involvement with the community, and fieldwork. The resulting works incorporate elements that are pertinent to the community. In the case of Valletta these include community celebrations (such as festas and Carnival), football, historical perspectives, and the Valletta diaspora. The resulting works differ widely in nature from a Sinfonija Beltija (Valletta Symphony) that focuses on the multiplicity of Valletta’s narratives, to a set of choral antiphons that challenge the established festa antiphon tradition and put the genre in a new light.
The use of a creative process involving a community can also serve to highlight current issues such as the challenges of gentrification, city branding, and community identity. The works created reference these issues directly or indirectly. However the musical works themselves do not attempt to make any final political statement but rather serve as a catalyst for further exploration and discourse.