As a young boy attending Whitefriars School at Woodville Park, David Gauci’s penchant for all things musical knew no bounds.
He was happy to sing in front of the class or act in the musical productions and believes if it hadn’t been for the wonderful support and encouragement from the Josephites who taught him, he may not have had the courage to later pursue a career in the arts.
“Primary school with the Sisters of St Joseph was really encouraging and nurturing,” he said of his formative years, first at St Margaret Mary’s and then Whitefriars schools in the western suburbs.
“Music, singing and performance and the arts were really, really important.
“I remember we did Fiddler on the Roof one year and we were always involved with the Eisteddfods at the Town Hall. I used to go to the convent for piano lessons and theory with Sr Carmel and would have elocution lessons with Mrs Mulvahill and singing with Mrs Tilley.
“Every time when it was someone’s birthday I would get out of my chair and walk to the front of the class and sing Happy Birthday to them, much to my teacher’s chagrin!”
David said perhaps he was drawn to the arts rather than the football field because of his Maltese heritage. His grandmother was “definitely a performer” and “the Maltese people are renowned for using music, even to settle arguments”.
However, being involved in the arts at school and choosing to make it your career path are two very different things and the 58-year-old said it had taken a leap of faith to eventually enrol at the Elder Conservatorium of Music.
Initially after leaving Woodville High School, which was also a great place to nurture his love of the arts, he studied accounting and believed that was where his future would be.
“I’m good at numbers – and maths and music often do make a strong connection,” he explained.
While accounting was a safe career path, David said his strong Catholic faith was seemingly pulling him in another direction.
Growing up he regularly attended Mass with his family and served as an altar boy at Mater Dei Church at Woodville and he felt he was being called to the priesthood.
“I did accounting for about three years and then I thought about a vocation in the priesthood. It was just something that was there,” he said.
“I was a fairly selfish teenager and going into the seminary and spending two and a half to three years there really got me to shift my focus, that I was just one drop in a massive ocean.
“I did a six month placement at Modbury and I really, really loved it and it felt right.
“At the same time I was given the opportunity to do some moonlighting as a singer at a restaurant and I was getting this response from people when I would sing that… I was making people feel good. There was a ministry involved in my singing and that really all of a sudden made me think, ‘I could do this’.”
Leaving St Francis Xavier Seminary at Rostrevor, David spent some more time crunching numbers before at the age of 28 entering the Conservatorium to study a Bachelor of Music (Performance-Classical).
Like most in the artistic world he has performed at a variety of gigs over the years – including at the Cabaret Festival where he showcased his aptitude for music from the theatre and the swing era – as well as taking roles in an array of musicals. About 10 years ago he established Davine Productions, which recently put on eight sold-out performances of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical at the Star Theatre.
To supplement his income, for many years David has taught singing at Catholic schools and since 1999 has been involved on and off with Cardijn College’s music program. There he is also able to combine his faith and love of singing by organising music for liturgies at the school and in May he was honoured to be involved with the Mass at the Cathedral to celebrate 200 years of Catholic education.
“For me, working at a Catholic school is really important. I do carry the Catholic flame with pride and real intention,” he said.
“There’s a beautiful line of St Paul ‘see how they love each other’…it should be acts that let people know about our faith. I’d like to think that the way I work here at Cardijn and interact with students and my genuine hope and care reflects my Catholic faith and upbringing.”
There is no doubt the students love Mr Gauci as at one time they nominated him for a Teacher of the Year Award – even though technically he is not employed as a teacher. More recently, they have come to affectionately refer to him as the ‘incredible shrinking man’, acknowledging his determination to lose weight and shed an incredible 67 kilograms over the past 12 months.
While David may be now much smaller in size, his voice and message to students about the importance of celebrating God’s gift to them remains large.
“I absolutely think that singing is God’s gift to me,” he said.
“The Sisters of St Joseph recognised that and they told me at a young age, that’s a gift and you should do something with it. Don’t be a light under a bushel.
“Gift is really important. I talk about it to students as a gift always, rather than a talent. It is something given to us and when something is given there is always a reason, and rarely is the reason to ignore it.
“Rarely is the reason not to do good with it, it’s given to us to make positive change.”Jump to next article