The Malta Independent 16 May 2022, Monday

Victoria International Arts Festival: A Month of musical excellence

Malta Independent Friday, 8 June 2012, 00:00 Last update: about 9 years ago

This year’s edition of the Victoria International Arts Festival opened with an orchestral concert on Wednesday that served as a great introduction to a month of musical performances in Victoria, Gozo. This is the 15th edition of the festival and is being presented, with more than a deep sense of pride, by its artistic director Maestro Joseph Vella.

Being a special edition, the organising committee, a group of volunteers who are well-versed in the musical sphere, have done their best to provide patrons, with what promises to be superlative concerts given by high-calibre musicians.

During the five weeks of the festival, besides a number local musicians, performers will be coming from all over Europe.

The Malta Philharmonic Orchestra is invited in Gozo for the closing concert. It also opened the festival on Wednesday.

“... It is with more than a deep sense of pride that I look back on our humble beginnings and then the way the festival has slowly but surely grown not only into one of Malta’s shining highlights in the yearly artistic calendar but also at the way it has truly developed into an international affair,” said Maestro Vella in comments shared.

He explains that in the field of music the saying goes that for an artist, the real acid test comes not when they ask you first but when (and if) they ask you back. Taking this dictum in reverse and given the fact that the artistes who come to participate surely do not do it for any financial gain, it is more than gratifying for him and his committee to be inundated with requests from musicians who have over the years had a taste of the spirit of the festival and who want to return for more.

For the next five weeks, Victoria joins the festival cities of the world, with artistes and ensembles combining to leave their mark on the soul of the island. The festival in the heart of Victoria blends drive, professional ethos and the typical Gozo penchant for laid-back charm.

A recital of Czech music for cello and piano will be an opportunity for those who would like to hear something different as these chamber compositions are rarely performed on our islands.

Music by Suk, Dvořák, Janáček and Martinů will be interpreted by Czech cellist Lucie Kucharova and Maltese pianist Joanne Camilleri, who join forces in this concert, on 12 June at the Aula Mgr. Farrugia, Victoria.

Amongst the most-known works to be performed are Dvořák’s Silent Woods and Janacek’s Fairy Tale.

Lucie Kucharova completed her cello studies at the Janacek State Conservatory in Brno and the Academy of Music and Performing Arts, Bratislava. She frequently performed with National Opera Theatre and Radio Symphony Orchestra of Bratislava and National Theatre Brno. She was later contracted by the Orquestra do Norte in Portugal and has been performing with the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra since 2009.

Pianist Joanne Camilleri is the winner of the prestigious Associated Board International four-year scholarship, and a graduate of the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, from where she obtained a BMus (Hons), PGDip (Perf.) and MMus (Perf.) all with Distinction.

She is also the recipient of numerous prizes including the Clifton Helliwel Memorial Award, the Peter Frankl Prize for Piano, Ruth Hewitt Scholarship, and a two-year scholarship from the Janatha Stubbs Trust.

As member of the Camilleri Trio she has toured Sweden and the UK, as well as recorded the soundtrack for a silent film by Yasujirô Ozu, which has just been released.

Another concert features Sarah Spiteri, Nemanja Ljubinkovic (violin), Matthew Fenech (viola), Lucie Kucharova (violoncello), Gjorgji Cinciewski (double bass), in the ProMużika Ensemble. It is to perform at St George’s Basilica on Saturday 30 June.

The ensemble was formed in August 2004 and held the first chamber music concert at Bighi, Kalkara. After having performed separately as soloists and in different chamber combinations for a number of years, the various musicians who make up ProMużika decided to team up and the ensemble includes foreign musicians resident in Malta.

ProMużika was instrumental in the success of the series entitled ‘Intimate Letters’ held in auberges and palaces round Malta – venues usually inaccessible to the general public, such as Girgenti Palace, Auberge de Castille, Auberge d’Aragon and Auberge d’Italie.

The festival closes with a Grand Orchestral Concert featuring Alastair Ross (counter tenor), the Laudate Pueri Choir, the British Cantum Barbum, and the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra directed by Joseph Vella, at St George’s Basilica, on Monday 9 July.

Prof. Vella’s name and reputation have become institutionalised in Malta and a by-word for musical excellence and organisational acumen. Equally versatile as a composer, conductor, researcher, editor, University lecturer, Joseph Vella has established standards that would be more than a hard act to follow.

The Victoria International Arts Festival was the brain child of the resident choir at St George’s Basilica. This was formally set up by, Rev. Dr Joseph Farrugia, archpriest at the Basilica (1998-2007). Nevertheless, it knows its roots to a much earlier and very deeply established tradition of sacred music performed at the principal parish church of Gozo.

Rev. George Joseph Frendo is the choir director and the assistant director of the Victoria International Arts Festival.

More information is available on the website:

All concerts, which are free of charge, start at 8pm but the 10 June concert starts at 6.30pm.

A donation of €100 guarantees a reserved seat for all concerts.

Master classes in the following disciplines will be held in September: Pianoforte (Junior and Senior Classes); Violin (Junior and Senior Classes); Clarinet; Brass; Voice.

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