CHARLIE Camilleri was born in Mellieha, Malta in 1930. At 82 years old, he is the oldest member of the band.
But in the eyes of ones like us, who are there every Monday for rehearsal, he’s the youngest at heart playing the Piccolo, where he’s always there ahead of time and very rarely misses out.
Charlie, like many Maltese in the post-war period, was influenced by the services bands that used to perform in many Maltese towns and villages squares. Charlie told me that he is the fourth child of a big family and his eldest brother used to play too.
In those hard days after the Second World War, where most people in the villages used to work in the fields and the quarries around, he liked to go and see the army band performing around Mellieha and he was fascinated by the musicians, especially by a particular one that played the piccolo. He was so amazed by it that he told his parents that he wanted to learn the instrument and began some music lessons at The Imperial Band Club of his beloved Mellieha. After a while he started playing the piccolo which he still plays with full enthusiasm today.
Charlie, like many other Maltese migrants, arrived in Australia at the very young of 19 in 1949 and shortly after met his wife, Jane, who happened to also be from Mellieha, having migrated with her family. They got married here and had four children. Two of them actually used to play in the band too but unfortunately, like many other young Maltese second generation children, gave it up.
Asked about how and when he started to play with OLQP Maltese Band, Charlie said that in 1976 he went to the Kellyville Santa Marija festa where the band was playing. He asked Mro Darmanin if he could play although he hadn’t played for quite a while and was greatly encouraged by the Maestro, who prepared all the music for him. From there on he never looked back.
Asked about the future of the band, Charlie says that although we lack young musicians, the enthusiasm that he sees in the rehearsals encourages him a lot.