What’s happening at Gaulitana

What’s happening at Gaulitana

Gaulitana, Gozo’s popular annual festival of (mainly) music events – which is organised by Gaulitanus Choir – is bang in the middle of its 12th edition.

This year, the festival runs until April 29; it kicked off with an art exhibition, Percorso di Vita by Italian artist Costanzo Rovati. The exhibition is open at Sentinella throughout the festival period. 

The festival’s artistic director, Colin Attard, stressed that this year there are a number of events held within the Citadel, including on Cathedral Square.

The Citadel, in its recently and excellently restored state, will be highlighted by means of the musical and visual arts events held there. Another novelty this year was that Gaulitana is presenting a semi-staged version of R. and R. Sherman’s Mary Poppins, twice.

Normally, the selected semi-staged musical is presented once, in Gozo. This year it was performed on Easter Sunday at Palazzo Palina, Hotel Ta’ Ċenċ, Sannat.

However, the novelty of its second performance is that this was held on Easter Monday at the Salesian Theatre in Sliema. The show was directed by the highly-experienced Terry Shaw, with soloists, Gaulitanus Choir and Gaulitana Ensemble directed by Colin Attard.

As usual the festival includes the participation of a number of musicians and artists from various parts of the world, including some from our islands. Italian soprano Paola Leoci, winner of the G.B. Rubini International Competition, was accompanied by Russian pianist Natalya Rakhmatulina on April 7.

The Cordia String Duo from Hungary gave a lunchtime concert on Cathedral Square within the Citadel on April 12. Chinese guitarist Liying Zhu and Maltese writer Aleks Farrugia will present a musical-literary experience at the Gozo Seminary Chapel on April 22, while on April 21 the very unusual Russo-Italian viola duo made up of Anna Serova and Roberto Molinelli will be performing.

Malta and Gozo are very strongly represented; famed soprano Miriam Gauci conducted master classes with repetiteur Christine Zerafa. The classes came to an end with a concert by the participants at the Gozo Ministry.

Claritonics, a local clarinet quartet, will give a lunchtime concert on Thursday on Cathedral Square.

Ġgantija Temples are featuring prominently this year, and this is another novelty

This year’s festival coincides with the centenary of the birth of Leonard Bernstein. Yesterday, the festival’s resident pianist Alexander Frey, from the US, took part in an event during which choreographer/dancer Felix Busuttil delved into certain aspects of Bernstein’s stage work. 

Frey also performed a number of Bernstein’s piano works at the Gozo Ministry Hall in Victoria. The Xewkija Rotunda saw still more Bernstein featured in Frey’s organ recital, during which he performed an adaptation of the famous Symphonic Dances from West Side Story. During the concert violoncellist Desirée Quintano also performed a piece. This was the result of the festival’s outreach policy in encouraging young, talented musicians. The young cellist is a member of the Malta Youth Orchestra and she was selected to take part by the MYO.

Many other activities see a blending of the visual arts with music. PAX – The Puzzle that is Peace combined Australian artist Helen Markstein’s installation with the participation of the Aurora Youth Choir, the Voce Angeliche, the Gozo Community Choir (of British ex-pats), and Gaulitanus Choir. This took place at the Ġgantija Temples.

Ġgantija Temples are featuring prominently this year, and this is another novel­ty. More events are in store during the final weekend, the now-established Opera Weekend. On April 27 at 8pm, Ritual Strings combines the art of French guitarist Kevin Moindaze with the evocative dancing of Denise Buttigieg.

Bellini’s masterpiece Norma will be performed on April 28 at 7.30pm at the Aurora Opera House, Victoria. The star-studded cast is led by soprano Amarilli Nizza (Norma), tenor Stefan Pop (Pollione), mezzo-soprano Anna Maria Chiuri (Adalgisa) and bass Gabriele Sagona (Oroveso).

Gaulitanus Choir is taking part, directed by Enrico Castiglione, while Colin Attard is conducting the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra. An hour before, at 6.30pm, there will be a pre-opera talk in the Aurora complex.

Festival director Colin Attard explains that the opera set has been influenced by Ġgantija Temples’ magnificent architecture.  In order to delve deeper into the magic of this site, some hours before the opera, at 12.30pm, there will be a talk and curator’s tour, Ġgantija and Norma. The curator is Daphne Caruana. Enrico Castiglione will also take part and famed photographer Daniel Cilia will also be taking part.

Complimentary tickets for the Ġgantija events are available from the Ġgantija Interpretation Centre or the Gozo Museum of Archaeology at the Citadel.

The festival closes with a concert at the church of St Francis, Victoria, featuring the brilliant Gozitan virtuoso saxophonist Philip Attard, French guitarist Kevin Moindaze and the Gaulitana string orchestra directed by Colin Attard.

The majority of the events are free of charge, notable exceptions being the Malta performance of Mary Poppins and the opera Norma.

In its innovative GAULearn educational programme, Gaulitana collaborates closely with the Ministry of Education. The master classes are within this programme, and there are also workshops and an adaptation of Norma by script writer and actor Joseph Galea. The adaptation provides children with a hands-on experience.

The festival is held with the support of the Gozo Culture Support Programme, the Ministry for Gozo, Arts Council Malta, the V18 Committee and Heritage Malta.


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