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Calleja is appointed Malta’s first cultural ambassador

Internationally-acclaimed tenor and Grammy Award nominee Joseph Calleja has accepted an invitation to be Malta’s first cultural ambassador.

It’s nice to be recognised in your country

This honorary title has been bestowed on the 34-year-old at a time when Malta is preparing to become European Capital of Culture in 2018.

“Being officially appointed cultural ambassador to Malta is a huge honour for me and, as always, I will endeavour to promote the island and its considerable offerings in culture and diversity,” Mr Calleja said in Germany, where he is performing in the opera Les Pêcheurs de Perles.

Joking that he has unofficially been Malta’s ambassador for years – he describes himself as a “Maltaholic” on his Twitter account – Mr Calleja admitted the appointment came as a surprise.

“It’s nice to be recognised in your country and I love Malta. My summer concert on the island is a tribute to this beautiful island and its people whom I am honoured to call compatriots,” he added.

Culture Minister Mario de Marco said culture was not just a museum but a living thing and Mr Calleja, together with the young people who had enormous artistic talent, symbolised the present and future of the island’s talent.

“Joseph Calleja is a living testimonial to a culture of excellence, an excellence of culture that as a country and as a nation we need to strive towards,” he said.

“His appointment as cultural ambassador was therefore a natural course of events.

“He gives honour to this country and has always sought to promote Malta as he moves forward in his career. Titling his latest CD The Maltese Tenor is a symbiosis of this,” Dr de Marco said.

Mr Calleja is Malta’s first official cultural ambassador, though top percussionists, Renzo Spiteri, held this title during the European Year for Intercultural Dialogue.

Cultural diplomacy may be described as the initiation of the exchange of ideas, values, traditions and other aspects of culture or identity, whether they promote national interests, build relationships or enhance socio-cultural understanding.

While the term “cultural diplomacy” has only been established recently, it has been practised throughout history through explorers, travellers, traders, teachers and artists.

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