Valletta International Baroque Festival 2014 Programme Announced
At a press conference held at Teatru Manoel on Thursday 20 June, the programme for the second edition of the Valletta International Baroque Festival 2014 was officially announced. In his welcome introduction, Teatru Manoel’s Chairman, Dr. Michael Grech, stated that the aim is to grow this annual Festival into a major international event to place Malta firmly on the global cultural map.
Within the baroque setting of the Manoel’s auditorium, a taste of baroque music was provided by a performance of the Adagio and Allegria movements from Corelli’s Sonata No. 4 by Sarah Spiteri on violin and Alex Vella Gregory on the harpsichord.
Teatru Manoel’s Chief Executive Officer, Ray Attard, reported on the success of the past Festival which had surpassed everyone’s expectations. The 2013 Festival consisted of 18 different events over 17 days in 5 different Valletta venues with over 200 performers and an audience of over 6000. This included around 700 overseas visitors who travelled to Malta, in what is traditionally a lean month for tourism, specifically for the Festival. Ray Attard thanked the Teatru Manoel team behind this mammoth event as well as the external supporters without whose help and assistance the scale of the Festival would not have been reached. Leading this list is the Government of Malta which is the largest financial supporter and the Malta Tourism Authority which was, and continues to be, pivotal in promoting the Festival through its overseas network. The Phoenicia Hotel was singled out for the in-kind support it gives by hosting the overseas artists. Other significant sponsors are Tipico, St. John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation and Alberta.
Kenneth Zammit Tabona, the Festival’s Artistic Director, then presented the 2014 programme highlighting specific events and explaining the artistic aims and objectives behind the choice of programme. One of the most exciting projects is the world premiere of the parody of the opera Hippolyte et Aricie performed with live singers and musicians and with (almost) life-size marionettes. This is a result of a collaboration with the renowned Centre de Musique de Versailles.
As 2014 is the 250th anniversary of Rameau’s death there are three other performances featuring the music of this great French 18th century composer notably Airs Enchantèes by the Kolner Akademie featuring instrumental and vocal highlights from Rameau’s most famous operas; notably Les Indes Galantes.
Celebrated religious works include Handel’s Messiah which opens the Festival at Ta’ Giezu Church as well as Monteverdi’ Vespers performed at St. Paul’s Anglican Pro-Cathedral, both these venues are new ones for the next Festival. The third religious work is Bach’s great B Minor Mass performed by the world-famous The English Concert at St. John’s Co-Cathedral. Bach also features in an astounding concert featuring all six Brandenburg Concertos by Concerto Koln and Music from the Habsburg Court by the Viennese Concilium Musicum.
The 2014 Festival includes twenty-three great performances, three Toi Toi sessions and a Baroque Costume Ball in just over two weeks. Performers include artists such as Max Emmanuel Cencic, one of Europe’s leading countertenors and Malta’s own home-grown talents including Gillian Zammit, Clare Massa, Nicholas Mulroy, Albert Buttigieg, the Anon and Goldberg Ensembles under the direction of Michael Laus and the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra. One important legacy of the Festival is the formation of the Valletta Festival Baroque Ensemble which will be performing twice during the Festival. The aim of this ensemble is to nurture local musicians to perform on baroque instruments and gradually begin to revive the numerous baroque musical works by Maltese composers.
Parliamentary Secretary for Culture Jose Herrera closed the conference by reiterating the Government’s support of the Baroque Festival and the Ensemble and its aims. Dr. Herrera stated that this festival is a cultural gift to the people of Malta and celebrates the architectural beauty of Valletta through the Manoel Theatre, St John’s Co Cathedral and other religious and secular venues. Having a baroque music festival in an intrinsically baroque city is a logical progression. The Festival coincides with an enormous baroque revival in Europe and therefore the time was ripe especially as the Festival was devised to kick off the celebrations at the beginning of 2017 (EU presidency) and 2018 (Capital of Culture). Dr. Herrera concluded by stating that there is legislation planned to strengthen the role of culture within the economic sector and for Malta to maximize its potential as a cultural tourist destination.
The full programme of the festival can be found at: www.vallettabaroquefestival.com.mt.