Music composition competition winner
The winner of the first edition of the Music Composition Competition is Steven Joseph Psaila with his work Il-Misteru ta’ Ħaġar Qim.
The competition was organised by the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts (MCCA) as part of the Independence Day concert. The concert is a national festivities event held annually at the Palace courtyard in Valletta.
On the day, the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) performs an evening of classical and modern music.
Psaila’s piece won the jury over with an atmospheric and evocative piece celebrating one of Malta’s most ancient temple sites. The composition stands out for its combination of simplicity and directness. It also boasts an effective orchestration with appealing melodic ideas and technically relevant orchestral sounds.
Psaila is a music teacher at St Benedict’s College and the Johann Strauss School of Music. The composer started his musical education at the age of six, learning the piano under Antoinette Borg.
As a student at St Edward’s College, he got involved in school concerts and it was during these events that he started performing original works for piano. He then proceeded to the University of Malta, where he read for a degree in Music Studies, specialising in Musicology as well as studying composition under the guidance of Christopher Muscat.
Psaila’s compositions include a number of short works for strings, works for piano, liturgical pieces and a piano work titled Silhouette, written exclusively for children.
The jury consisted of Michael Laus, Philip Ciantar and Albert Garzia. Members agreed that the general standard of the participating compositions was quite high, with few exceptions.
This year’s Independence Day concert theme will be ‘Influences’; through this initiative, the MCCA is offering an opportunity to local composers to have their new music performed by the MPO during a prestigious event.
The winner also received a monetary prize.