Marie Therese Vassallo
Dame Marie Therese Vassallo DipLCM, LLCM, DCLJ, BMLJ, MMLJ, PSLJ (4 March, 1949 – 12 August 2020) was a Mezzo-Soprano, Vocal Coach and Concert Organiser. From a very early age in her hometown Sliema, Marie Therese Vassallo studied violin, guitar and singing with her father, Maestro Frank Vassallo. She later took up the piano.
She has loved singing ever since she can remember. From a very early age, she was singing with choirs and studying music. When Marie Therese was about thirteen years old, she started to play the guitar, which meant that she could accompany herself. She sang a solo role in the Operetta, The Gypsy Girl at Sixth Form and received such good reviews that she just continued from there and never looked back.
As a teenager she took part in many festivals and was always among the 3 winners. She sang in the Malta Song Festival many times. In 1967, when the Festival was organized by the Malta Song Festival Board, she qualified for the Finals with 3 songs. The music of the songs was composed by her father Mro. Frank Vassallo and the lyrics were written by Marie Therese. She won the Festival with her song Bit-Tlikki Tlikki The song was published by Keith Prowse Publishing Co. Ltd., London, and also by Peter Morris, Milan. In that year the festival was recorded by Rediffusion and the finalists were recorded as a Long Play Album. In this Album, Marie Therese and her father had 3 songs.
In 1985, she was awarded two scholarships by the French Government and consequently furthered her studies in vocal technique and interpretation in Nice, France, at the Academie Internationale de Formation Musicale. In Nice, Ms Vassallo was awarded two diplomas and she was invited to give various recitals. In 2002, Ms Vassallo was awarded a London College of Music Diploma (DipLCM), while in 2004, she was awarded a Licentiate (LLCM) from the same College.
Over the years, Ms Vassallo has won several international singing competitions, such as the Festival Del Grappolo D’Oro, the Vulcano D’Oro and the Festival Della Canzone Mediterranea. In 1986 and 1987, Ms Vassallo represented Malta in the April Spring Friendship Art Festival in D.P.R. Korea. In 1997, she represented Malta in Tunisia and was head of a Maltese Delegation in an international gathering of artists from all over the Mediterranean.
Ms Vassallo was one of the founders of the Għaqda Kantanti Liriċi Maltin (Association of Maltese Lyrical Singers) and from 1990 she was its President for many years.
Ms Vassallo is involved in the organisation and presentation of concerts all over the Maltese Islands. Since 1990 she has held the position of Concert Organiser of the Malta Cultural Institute (MCI). She has been the Director of the MCI since May 2004.
Ms Vassallo has performed extensively both in Malta and abroad. Her repertoire includes a very wide range of operas, oratorios, musicals and sacred music, both by Maltese and foreign composers. She is also an Associate Member of the Performing Rights Society of London as an author. With the co-operation of the Russian Cultural Center in Valletta, she organised the Melita-Rossia Competition for Maltese Lyrical Singers for many years.
In 1995, Ms Vassallo was awarded the Premio Citta’ di Valletta in recognition of her work in the field of music. In 1996 and again in 2007, Ms Vassallo received a special award from the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Malta in recognition of her work to improve cultural relations between Russia and Malta. In 2014, Ms Vassallo received a medal from the Federal Council of the Russian Federation in recognition of her work to promote such cultural relationships.
In 2000, Ms Vassallo was invited by the Russian Society for Friendship and Cultural Relations to represent Malta on the judging panel of the prestigious Bella Voce International Competition for Lyrical Voices which was held in Moscow.
Ms Vassallo runs the Marie Therese Vassallo Voice Studio. She also directs the choral group “Voice Studio Ensemble”, which performs regularly in prestigious venues and is the resident choir of the Parish Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Balluta, where Marie Therese is Maestra di Cappella. She is also director of the “MuziKanti Ensemble”, which is a group of soloists whom she trains to sing as an Ensemble. Since October 2009 she has been the Director of the U3E Choir at the University of Malta.
On the 16th March 2018, Ms Vassallo received an Award for Lifetime Achievement in Music from the Medina Foundation for Music, during a special event organised by this Foundation in St. John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta.
Ms Vassallo is a Dame in the prestigious Military and Hospitaller Order of St Lazarus of Jerusalem, where she holds the position of Dame of Grace (DCLJ).
In 1979, Gulf Publishing Co.Ltd. issued Stejjer Ghal Qabel Jidlam, poems and stories by Profs. Olivier Friggieri. Ms Vassallo composed the music to the poems herself and recorded them for a Television series.
Marie Therese Vassallo was married to Charles Axiak who is also a musician and they have two sons.