The Malta Independent 25 June 2024, Tuesday
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Promoting the Maltese language

Owen Bonnici Friday, 7 July 2023, 12:13 Last update: about 13 months ago

Language and music have always played integral roles in expressing cultural identity and forging deep connections between people. In the case of Malta, a captivating Mediterranean nation with a rich heritage, singing in the Maltese language takes on immense significance. This opinion piece delves into the importance of singing in the Maltese language, emphasizing its cultural, linguistic, and artistic contributions.


Through singing in Maltese, artists pay homage to their roots, preserving and exalting their unique heritage.  Singing in Maltese plays a pivotal role in preserving the language, keeping it vibrant and relevant. By channelling the beauty of the Maltese language through music, a deeper connection and appreciation for its linguistic nuances and poetic expressions are fostered among listeners. The language becomes a conduit for shared experiences, cultivating deeper emotional resonance and forging stronger bonds between performers and their listeners.

We will continue providing a platform for local talent to shine brightly. By promoting Maltese artists and their creations, the music industry becomes a vibrant reflection of the nation's cultural wealth and artistic prowess.

Beyond national borders, singing in Maltese becomes a powerful tool for the worldwide promotion of Maltese culture. Singing in the Maltese language stands as a vital aspect of safeguarding cultural heritage, fostering linguistic diversity, and forging connections with audiences. While artistic expression knows no boundaries, embracing and celebrating the Maltese language through music contributes to the cultural fabric of Malta, ensuring that its heritage endures and thrives for generations to come.

The National Broadcaster is already fulfilling the policy requirement.  In fact, on our public radio stations, we already have the following specific programmes that cater for Maltese musicRadju Malta - Maltin Biss and Magic - Lokali Biss.

Furthermore, Arts Council Malta and the Culture Directorate will be engaging in conversations, through a public forum, with artists and radio stations on the best way to promote good quality Maltese Music.

Another initiative is undertaken by the Public Broadcasting Services Ltd, which is seeing the organisation of a first-ever Music Exchange Camp free of charge for Maltese and Gozitan singers and composers aged 16 and over. The initiative will consist of two components - collaborative music workshops where Maltese producers will work together with foreign producers and Maltese singers, as well as a series of lectures by professionals, both local and foreign, including those from Universal Music.

The Ministry has been in the past years promoting, through various initiatives, Maltese music.  For instance, the whole scope of establishing the extraordinarily successful festival Muzika Muzika was to provide the best platform to the Maltese Language. Mużika Mużika is also a cultural and musical phenomenon that affects the Maltese islands and unites us as Maltese.

Incidentally, we have just announced that the applications for Mużika Mużika 2024 are officially open. The applicants can submit their applications until 17 October 2023. The applications can also be submitted by hand at the Festivals Malta offices between the 16 and 17 October 2023, between 9 am and 4pm.

Together with Festivals Malta we also presented the winners of Mużika Mużika 2023 with their trophies. The third edition of the festival, which took place between the 23 and 25 of March, has once again exceeded the expectations of the singers, authors, and composers, as well as its numerous audiences.

The 2023 edition was won by the song Sabiħa, which is interpreted by Gianluca Bezzina, written by Joe Julian Farrugia and composed by Philip Vella. The song Jekk Mhux Int, interpreted by the duo Drakard and Lisa Gauci, written by Emil Calleja Bayliss and composed by Cyprian Cassar, came in second, while the song M’Hawnx Bħalek interpreted by Jasmine Abela, written by Philip Vella and composed by Glen Vella, came in third. During the press conference, Festivals Malta also presented commemorative trophies to Ryan Paul Abela for Best Arrangement with the song Fuq Pultruna, interpreted, written, and composed by Mark Micallef Costa, and to Jasmine Abela for Best Interpretation of the song M’Hawnx Bħalek. In a separate ceremony, the composers of the winning songs were presented with the monetary prizes of €20,000 for 1st place, €10,000 for 2nd place, and €5,000 for 3rd place.

We will keep working to raise the bar even further while encouraging emerging and established singers, composers, authors, and bands to apply for the fourth edition of the festival and to be part of its legacy.

I would like to thank all the artists who were part of the festival and Festivals Malta team whilst congratulating the winner of this year’s edition.

Another initiative to continue promoting Maltese music we announced the latest details for the 47th edition of the "Għanja tal-Poplu" festival. This popular event will take place on Saturday, 5th August, at 20:45 in Pjazza Teatru Rjal, under the direction of the Malta Concert Orchestra led by Maestro Paul Abela.

The first edition of this festival was held exactly 50 years ago in Valletta, and throughout all this time, the Għanja tal-Poplu event has continued to attract both young talents and established artists who have the Maltese song close to their hearts while promoting social issues and “rebel themes” which have such a big impact.  The festival showcases Maltese music while being very authentic and crudely different and has managed to attract both emerging talents and well-known artists who have a deep connection to Maltese songs.

Over the years, the Għanja tal-Poplu festival has maintained its popularity and significance by discussing issues affecting the people in their everyday life. This year, there were a total of 142 songs participating in the competition. From this large pool, a panel of judges selected the best 16 songs to be featured in the festival. The process of selecting these songs likely involved careful consideration of various factors, such as the quality of the lyrics, composition, and overall performance.


One of the primary aims of events like the Għanja tal-Poplu festival is to promote the Maltese language. By providing a platform for artists to express themselves through music in their native language, the festival contributes to the preservation and appreciation of the Maltese language and culture. It serves as an opportunity for both established and emerging artists to showcase their talent, while also fostering a sense of pride and connection to the local artistic scene.

By continuing to organize festivals like Għanja tal-Poplu, the organizers and participants contribute to the vibrant music and cultural landscape of Malta, ensuring the longevity and vitality of the Maltese music industry.

The special guests for this year's edition is  Merga, who will perform two beautiful songs from the 1960s with orchestral arrangements by Maestro Joe Brown. The festival will be presented by the couple Joseph Galea and Antonella Galea Loffreda. Some facts about Merga, Mary Buttigieg, also known as Merga, is a renowned singer from Rabat, Malta. Her singing career took off in 1962 at the Rabat Song Contest, organized by Żgħażagħ Ħaddiema Nsara, where she performed the song 'Nixtieq Nittajjar,' a Maltese version of 'Vorrei Volare.' popularity in the Maltese Islands.

Merga performed songs composed by different composers and authors, but during the early years of her career, many of the songs were written by John B. Cassar. One of her first songs, 'Madonnina,' was originally performed by Terry L Bencini in the inaugural Malta Song Contest in 1960.

In the early 70s, Merga also contributed to the local album 'Ikun li Trid Int' by Prof. Manuel Mifsud and Therese Cassar. In 1990, Merga won the Għanja tal-Poplu with the song 'Inti' composed by Manuel Mifsud. In 1995, she achieved third place and received the Best Interpretation trophy in the same festival with the song 'In-Naffar' (The Scarecrow) by Walter Micallef and Alfred E. Baldacchino.

We will keep working hard to promote the Maltese language through artistic means!


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