The Malta Independent 20 June 2019, Thursday

The Music of the Day

Tuesday, 4 September 2018, 08:44 Last update: about 11 months ago

Modern Music Days is a concert series committed to the performance and understanding of 20th century repertoire and contemporary music in Malta. Artistic director RUBEN ZAHRA explains how this ground-breaking concept is connecting contemporary music to dance, video-art, animation and even heritage sites – and why the Modern Music Days event this month is a must for music-lovers

"Malta has missed out on a hundred years of music," claims Ruben Zahra, artistic director of concert series Modern Music Days. "The works of important 20th century composers have been featured in all major concert halls throughout Europe, but Malta was cut-off from this vibrant music scene. Audiences here have not been exposed to the music that has shaped the 20th century cultural landscape as well as today's music."

With the launch of Modern Music Days in 2015, Zahra hoped to set this record straight, presenting important 20th century works as well as music by contemporary music composers. "The performance and understanding of contemporary music is an important reflection of our own times," continues Zahra. "It's as important as the programming of contemporary dance, rather than just classical ballet; it's as important as showcasing exhibitions by today's visual artists or investing in contemporary architecture to contrast our rich baroque heritage."


Beyond simply promoting contemporary music, Modern Music Days adopts a more interdisciplinary approach, frequently collaborating with other artists who specialise in art forms such as dance, video-art and animation. This year, the concert series even included special performances in heritage sites, where the audience experienced a recital of new music by relatively unknown composers inside a catacomb, a Neolithic temple and an underground crypt, among other unusual venues.

The upcoming Modern Music Days concert will showcase its most interdisciplinary programme yet, with an exciting selection of works incorporating percussion, video-art and dance. Percussionists Daniel Cauchi, Luke Baldacchino and Michael Camilleri will present three works: Trio per Uno by Nebojsa Zivkovic, Surprise! composed by the Dutch ensemble Pulse Percussion Trio and compositions for percussion by Maltese composer Charles Camilleri. 

Pianist Tricia Dawn Williams will then present music that has been written specifically for piano and video, combining a musical dialogue with a visual narrative and score. The grand finale will be a contemporary rendition of the iconic ballet Parade, featuring the music of Erik Satie to a one-act scenario by Jean Cocteau, with costumes and sets designed by Pablo Picasso.

Modern Music Days is also set to present other innovative contemporary concerts throughout November, with a performance of original modern string quartets inside the atmospheric underground crypt of Zejtun parish church and a percussion extravaganza presented within the vaulted halls of the Citadel Cultural Centre.

Through the continuing work of Modern Music Days, Zahra hopes not only to create a platform for contemporary music, but to promote art in Malta in all its forms. "Art reflects the social context of its time. A society without its art is like a person who never confronts oneself in a mirror," he says.

The Modern Music Days concert will take place on 15 September at Valletta Campus Theatre, Valletta, as part of the Evenings on Campus programme. More information can be found on and tickets are available from

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