This Friday, the curtain rises on the 14th edition of the Malta International Arts Festival (MIAF) with an exceptional weekend that will launch the 15-day programme of events. It is a festival that, under the leadership of artistic director Ruben Zahra, will present a repertoire of innovative productions with a strong interdisciplinary dimension, all of which are accessible to a wide audience.
MPO / MYO Concert
On Friday June 28 at Pjazza Teatru Rjal, the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) and the Malta Youth Orchestra (MYO) will join forces under the direction of conductor Darrell Ang. The programme includes music by Borodin, Lecuona, Shostakovich, Vaughan Williams and by 35-year-old Maltese composer Stephen Psaila.
Psaila’s ‘Rakkont’ is an orchestral composition in three movements, written and first performed in 2013 for the annual President’s New Year concert. It depicts, through nostalgic melodies, the long-gone adventures and life experiences of a grandparent to a child, evoking emotions such as happiness, excitement, confusion and sadness.
“Apart from officially bringing to an end both orchestras’ artistic season, this concert presents a unique opportunity for the MYO musicians to perform side-by-side with the members of the MPO,” says Jean Noel Attard, MPO’s marketing executive. “Indeed, the mission of the youth orchestra is to mentor talented young musicians, nurturing them to become future players of the MPO. This joint concert will therefore allow the established players to inspire, motivate and engage with their younger peers in what promises to be an exciting evening of music.”
MIAF Official Opening – a celebration on a Sailboat
The official opening of MIAF 2019 will take place on Saturday, June 29, at the Pixkerija at Ta’ Liesse. This will feature a curated programme of percussion ensemble, string quartets, circus arts and more. “The official opening of the MIAF is a celebration,” declares Zahra. “The main attraction will be the performances on the Fernandes sailing vessel acting as a floating stage – featuring a programme with a percussion trio and string quartet, accompanied by circus acts.”
The percussion trio consists of Daniel Cauchi, Michael Camilleri and William Smith. “Our concert includes a selection of up-beat and entertaining contemporary compositions and includes music by composers/percussionists Zivkovic, McClaflin, and Argenziano, among others,” says Cauchi.
“It’ll be a challenge to perform on a sailing vessel, especially with regards to the setup of the instruments,” he adds. “The programme involves a wide range of percussion instruments with a considerable number of changes, which can be slightly more challenging to organise on a floating stage with limited stage space.”
The string quartet will present a programme of works by contemporary Maltese composers – string quartets by Reuben Pace, Christopher Muscat, and Albert Garzia and a piece for accordion, violins and cello by Mariella Cassar.
Cellist Akos Kertesz says, “it is always a journey into the unknown when you play new music, an adventure similar to that of an explorer discovering uncharted territory. In this sense it is perfectly fitting to play this music on a sailboat. Apart from this, all the pieces have some kind of a connection to water so playing them on sea seems like the right choice.
“It is the first time we are performing on a sailboat,” he continues. “But we have total trust in Ruben Zahra, who came up with the idea. Acoustics could be tricky but we will be amplified so that is not going to be a problem. The only thing is, it is very difficult to play on a wobbly surface so let’s hope the sea isn’t going to be rough!”
Dance Dance Dance
Sunday June 30 will see the debut of Ilħna Mediterranji (Mediterranean Voices). It is the first chapter of a three-year journey, which will culminate in summer 2021 with a full-length work created by a Maltese artist, for ŻfinMalta National Dance Company.
The first chapter in this journey is a double-bill from two award-winning choreographers, Jacopo Godani and Jorge Crecis. The combination of these works is unique and unprecedented, as they both demand incredibly high intensity of physicality, which they do by tapping into very diverse universes of dance, as a movement practice, and as an art form, offering an experience to the audience which is at the same time accessible, entertaining and thought-provoking.
“I believe that in a context where we are more and more afraid of the ‘other’, dance can help us to reflect on the importance of hearing, approaching and reflecting, through listening to different voices, and holding fast to our values as people touched by the Mediterranean Sea,” comments Paolo Mangiola, ŻfinMalta artistic director.
The Malta International Arts Festival 2019 will start on Friday, June 28 and will run until Sunday, July 14. Tickets are now available. To view the full programme of the festival, please visit www.festivals.mt/miaf or www.facebook.com/MaltaArtsFestival/