Schembri, Brian (21.9.1961-)

Conductor and concert pianist

Son of Mro. Carmelo and Giovanna Schembri,Schembri was born at Sliema. His precocious musical telent was detected very quickly and he was tutored by his father under whose guidance he not only started to give recitals in Malta at several important venues and performing regularly on TV and radio, but also obtained his LRSM at just over 13 years of age, the youngest Maltese pianist so far to achieve this distinction. Subsequently he was granted a scholarship by the Soviet-Maltese Friendship Society, proceeding to the Tchaikovsky State Conservatoire in Kiev studying piano under Alexander Snegiriov and conducting under Roman Kofman, both distinguished professors and performers.

Having graduated with an MA (Mus.) degree, he was recommended for post graduate studies under the distinguished Sergei Dorensky for piano and the world famous Gennadij Rozhdestvensky for conducting at the Tchaikowsky State Conservatoire in Moscow.

During his student years, Schembri made regular appearances in some of the most important halls in the Soviet Union as solo pianist in recitals, concertos, chamber music ensembles, as well as symphonic concerts and opera. He also performed various concertos at the Manoel Theatre, gave recitals at the Phoenicia and conducted at the University auditorium, as well as at the Wigmore Hall London to critical acclaim. For a time he was musical director with the Choral Society, cofounder of the Opera Studio, conductor with the Kiev Opera Studio, lecturer at the department of music at the UM, member of the Mediterranean Institute of the Foundation for International Studies, and musical director with Teatru Strada Stretta (directed by his brother, Guiseppe Schembri). In 1988 he was awarded the Malta Cultural Award.

Having started to conduct abroad and failing to find a permanent position in Malta, he left for France in 1989 on the invitation of the prestigious conductor Michel Plasson to work as his assistant with the Orchestra National du Capitole. Since then he has been based in Paris collaborating with, among others, such prestigious conductors as James Judd, Youri Temirkanov, Garcia Navarro, Armin Jordan, and Emmanuel Krivine. He has also been permanent conductor with the Orchestra Philarmonique de France and has conducted orchestra in France, Italy, Romania Poland, Yugoslavia, Russia, Ukraine, Spain, and the odd much looked forward to but rare appearances in Malta.

His Russian-born wife Olga Vassileva is also a concert pianist and reputed piano teacher and member of the Paris-based Trio Russe.

Source: Maltese Biographies of the Twentieth Century (1997), editors Michael J. Schiavone and Louis J. Scerri

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