The Malta Independent 27 May 2019, Monday

The Malta International Organ Festival: A festival for the king of instruments

Tuesday, 20 November 2018, 08:56 Last update: about 7 months ago

Malta International Organ Festival, this year being in its fifth edition, is being held from 15 November to 7 December.

The festival is made up of 16 concerts in cathedrals, churches, basilicas and chapels in Malta, another 3 in Gozo, and two masterclasses. Amongst the star guest performers in this edition of the Malta International Organ Festival, is organist Sergio Orabona from Italy, who will be opening the festival at St. Francis of Assisi Church, Valletta on the 15th November performing Bach's Fantasia and Fugue in g minor nicknamed the 'Great', and Poulenc's favourite masterpiece - Concerto in g minor for Organ, Strings and Timpani.  A new composition by Maltese composer Karl Fiorini was commissioned for the 5th edition celebrations. This new composition titled Quatre Miniatures Romaines is scored for Baritone, Organ, Strings and Percussion, and uses poetry by Sophie Charpentier. 


Festival organiser and artistic director, Dr Joseph Lia, said that some of the world's most prominent international organists will be performing during the festival, such as Giacomo Benedetti, Marco D'Avola, Diego Cannizzaro, Christian Schmitt, Petra Veenswijk, Gail Archer, and Mariella Mochi. The festival will also be a platform to young Maltese organists like Franco Cefai and Jurgen Grima, offering them both a prestigious performing platform and also free masterclasses to improve their technique.

Dr Lia added that this year, MET Opera of New York Soprano Olga Makarina will be joining Mezzo-Soprano Dina El from USA to perform Pergolesi's Stabat Mater under the baton of Italian conductor Simone Valeri at St Mary Magdalena Church in Valletta on 22nd November. Makarina sung under the direction of various world famous conductors like James Levine, Valerie Gergiev, Yehudij Menuhin, and Bruno Campanella.

Another highlight during this year's festival will be an organ recital at Tal-Vitorja Church in Valletta on 20th November of Maltese & Sicilian Composers on the 18th Century positive Santucci organ that was found recently, after being lost for several years. This organ was recently restored by Robert Buhagiar.

Other interesting concerts will be an organ and guitar recital at St Bartholomew Church in Tarxien, All'Italiana Concert at the Gudja Parish Church, and a concert presenting famous Christmas melodies from around the world, arranged for organ, flute and cello at St Barbara Church in Valletta on 2nd December.

The concerts being held in Balluta, Balzan, Mdina, Paceville, Tarxien, Gudja, Senglea, Safi and Għaxaq in Malta, and Nadur, Citadella and Fontana in Gozo, will include the participation of several musicians combining local and foreign talent, showcasing Maltese heritage and the power of the organ used as a solo instrument, as an accompanist, and as part of an ensemble.

The festival will reach a climax with its final concert on 7th December at the St Augustine Parish Church in Valletta, featuring works by Handel, Corelli and Telemann.  The Valletta International Baroque Ensemble (VIBE) will be conducted by the Italian conductor Stefano Molardi. Molardi is an authority in Baroque music in Italy.  He will be joined by Joseph Lia to perform Telemann's Christmas Cantata, a nice way to start the Christmas season.


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