The Malta Independent 29 May 2020, Friday

Musical infusion at the Granaries

Tuesday, 12 November 2019, 09:46 Last update: about 8 months ago

The first Mediterranean Stars Festival powered by Radio Italia Live Il Concerto was held on 4 of October at the Granaries in Floriana, with 12 International artists fused together with three local artists, integrating culture, music and talent. Spectators from all over Europe attended eagerly to this one-time, free entrance, open-air event.

The Mediterranean Stars Festival and the Mediterranean Orchestra, comprised of sixty musicians, were led by Maestro Bruno Santori, who sported the Maltese cross across the back of his suit throughout the evening. The pre-show was presented by three local artists, Owen Leuellen, Nicole Frendo and Red Electrick. Owen Leuellen and Nicole Frendo are two upcoming local artists who rose to fame after their participation on X Factor Malta last year. Red Electrick (aka REK), a Maltese pop-rock band including five local musicians, also made their highlight whilst the Granaries began buzzing with enthusiasts for the concert. They debuted their new single Come Alive from their upcoming album Tragic Optimistic which was launched on 9 November.


Before the Mediterranean Stars Festival commenced, a short feature about the Mediterranean Orchestra and the Maltese Islands was projected on big screens overlooking the Granaries. In order to engage the audience before the actual concert is was broadcasted across International television stations, the 'Mediterranean Overture' a medley of three songs sung by three International artists, was performed. The Greek soprano, Dimitra Theodossiou performed an excerpt from 'Nessun Dorma', accompanied by the Mediterranean Orchestra. This was followed by the well-known Tunisian guitarist and singer Nabil Khemir, who made his appearance with an excerpt from his song 'Nour El Ain', where he played on his self-produced instrument Rayjam, an assembled double-neck guitar composed of an electric guitar and an oriental lute. The Overture ended with a fragment from the famous song 'Bamboléo' sung by the Italian-Argentinian singer Hernan Brando. The climax of this overture was reached when both 'Nessun Dorma' and 'Bamboléo' were fused together along with the voices of Maltese choristers projected on the main screen. The 'Mediterranean Overture' transpired the sound of cross-culturalism between North Africa and Europe.

Soon after the countdown, the Italian presenters initiated the festival. Marco Maccarini and Manola Moslehi were on the main stage whilst Paoletta and Mauro Marino were taking comments from the audience and the latter was interviewing the artists backstage. Maccarini introduced the festival in three languages: Italian, English and even Maltese with his words 'Il-lejla t-tajba, kif intom?'.

The charismatic Alessandra Amoroso initiated the festival with her famous song 'La Stessa'.  Amoroso is an Italian artist who won the Italian talent show Amici di Maria De Filippi in 2009. She engaged the audience by saying 'Grazzi ta' kollox Malta'. Her second pop song, 'Forza e Coraggio', issued earlier this year was performed right after and the audience came alive as they sang along to 'Vivere a Colori'. Due to unforeseen circumstances and as announced weeks before, the Italian pop singer Emma Marrone was unable to take part in this festival. Amoroso was shortly followed by the winner of this year's Sanremo Festival Alessandro Mahmoud (aka Mahmood). The Italian artist performed 'Gioventù Bruciata' and this year's winning song 'Soldi', which brought the crowd singing along together before Mahmoud ended with 'Barrio', which was released only a month ago. 'Tua per Sempre' and 'Se Piovesse il tuo Nome' were performed by the Italian singer-songwriter Elisa Toffoli, who also sang 'Luce (tramonti a nord est)', accompanied by her husband Andrea Rigonat both on the bass and classical guitar. It was then the time for the local band 'The Travellers' to perform 'Ħafi Paci Kuluri'. The band managed to engage very effectively the entire audience including foreigners present at the Granaries.

Regarded as one of the best reggae bands in Italy with an outstanding European tour held last year along with numerous sold out concerts, Boomdabash performed 'Per un Milione' and 'Mambo Salentino' accompanied by Alessandra Amoroso who performed with the band. The principal singer and songwriter of the pop rock group 883, Massimo Pezzali, famously known as Max Pezzali managed to maintain an energetic environment in the audience by performing three well known songs of his, 'Sei un Mito', 'Welcome to Miami (south beach)' and 'Hanno Ucciso l'Uomo Ragno'. The evening was full of dynamic and versatile musical fusions. An Italian rapper and record producer, Cosomi Fini or Gué Pequeno also made his appearance with 'Bling Bling (oro)'. 

Up next was Gigi D'Alessio. He performed 'Quanto amore si da' together with Gué Pequeno. D'Alessio addressed the audience with 'inħobbkom ħafna'. He continued his performance with 'Domani Vedrai' wherein the singer fused standard Italian with the Neapolitan dialect. Gigi D'Alessio sang 'Non Dirgli Mai', which song was released back in 2000 to the accompaniment of the Mediterranean Orchestra and himself playing on a grand piano. Another international artist was Khaled Hadj Ibrahim or Khaled, an Algerian singer-song writer who specialises mainly on pop Algerian. He presented three of his own compositions 'Aicha' in a combination of French and Arabic, 'Didi' with Algerian Arabic lyrics, and 'C'est La Vie'. Even though Khaled presented a mixture of French, Algerian and Arabic lyrics, the audience responded enthusiastically to his pop tempo. 

The winner of Sanremo Music Festival 2017 was also invited to perform in the Mediterranean Stars festival. The Italian singer-songwriter from Carrara, Italy, Francesco Gabbani exhibited 'Tra le Granite e le Granate', 'E un'altra cosa' and the winning song 'Occidentali's Karma'. Regarded as the king of Italian rap, Alessandro Aleotti, better known as J-Ax, performed 'Tutto tua Madre'. With his composition, J-Ax aimed to comment about the problems faced prior parenting. In contrast to that sentimental song, he continued his appearance with his famous song 'Maria Salvador' followed by 'Ostia Lido', two songs very well known amongst the audience present. 

This Mediterranean fusion saw the appearance of a Maltese singer-songwriter and also one of the judges of X Factor Malta, Ira Losco. She greeted the audience in Maltese with 'Kif intom illejla?'. She sang 'Cannonball' together with the winner of X Factor Malta 2019, Michela Pace. Following their collaboration, Ira Losco continued with Hey Now. She was warmly greeted by both Maltese and foreign attendees. The audience's familiarity with Losco's music was highly evident as they sang along and manifested their enthusiasm at her performance. The penultimate artist was Raffaele Riefoli, known as Raf who presented 'Infinito'. This festival saw its ending with the participation of Umberto Tozzi, an Italian musician famous for his genres in pop and rock. He performed one of his biggest international hits, 'Gloria', which song was very well-received by the audience. He collaborated with Raf with the song 'Il Battito Animale'. Both artists brought the festival to a close with Umberto Tozzi's famous song 'Tu'. 

As a formal conclusion to this memorable event, the comperes were invited onstage together with the founder of Radio Italia, Mario Volanti and the minister of Tourism Onor. Konrad Mizzi. Khaled was presented with a trophy for his efforts and achievements in being able to reach different corners of the Mediterranean with his diverse music. All the artists performed live and each was accompanied by the Mediterranean Orchestra. The internationally known stars succeeded in creating and maintaining a highly energetic concert throughout the evening. The quality of each performance was heightened further with the sound balance executed between the orchestra and the artists, both complimenting each other while delivering a pleasing auditory experience to the audience. This was a highly-professional organised event with effective and workable logistics for health and safety measures. Let's hope for another Mediterranean Stars Festival next year.

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