Gauli­tanus Choir re­turns from Lon­don

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - LIFESTYLE & CULTURE -

Gozo’s Gauli­tanus Choir is re­cently re­turned from a par­tic­u­lar choral tour in Lon­don, UK, where it gave a num­ber of per­for­mances fol­low­ing the in­vi­ta­tion of the Malta High Com­mis­sion and the Malta Day UK Or­gan­is­ing Com­mit­tee. In­deed, the choir played a cen­tral role in the Malta Day cel­e­bra­tions held in Lon­don on Satur­day 8 Septem­ber.

The choir’s first com­mit­ment was a per­for­mance dur­ing the ex­tremely well-pa­tro­n­ised Mal­tese Fair held at the West­min­ster Cathe­dral Hall. Very ap­pro­pri­ately, the choir per­formed Carmelo Pace’s very ap­peal­ing semi-folk­loris­tic a cap­pella works: Lapsi, Bta­j­jel and L-Im­narja. The choir then joined the UK’s St Se­bas­tian Brass Band con­ducted by Peter Cole, which was also in at­ten­dance, in Dion Buha­giar’s ar­range­ments of three very pop­u­lar Mal­tese songs.

The choir then moved to the ma­jes­tic West­min­ster Cathe­dral, the mother church of the Catholic Church in Eng­land and Wales, where it an­i­mated the liturgy dur­ing the of­fi­cial high mass com­mem­o­rat­ing the Na­tiv­ity of the Blessed Vir­gin Mary – which, of course, high­lighted the day’s cel­e­bra­tions. The con­cel­e­brated mass was led by H.G. Mgr Paul Cre­mona, Arch­bishop Emer­i­tus of Malta, to­gether with a very good num­ber of Mal­tese priests, in­clud­ing Fr Vic­tor Camil­leri, who was in­stru­men­tal in co-or­di­nat­ing the event. The Gauli­tanus Choir was ac­com­pa­nied by Jonathan All­sopp, the Cathe­dral’s or­gan scholar, on the splen­did grand or­gan – built in the early 20th cen­tury and con­sid­ered by many to be the great­est achieve­ment and crowning glory of Henry Willis III, one of Eng­land’s finest or­gan builders. Amongst other works, the choir per­formed com­po­si­tions by its founder-direc­tor Colin At­tard, namely Mag­ni­fi­cat, Al­lelu­lia and Is-Sul­tana tal-Paci, as well as his ar­range­ments of A Je­suit Light Mass and Waslet is-Siegha. The mass ended with the choir join­ing the St Se­bas­tian Brass Band for the Mal­tese Na­tional An­them. The big con­gre­ga­tion in at­ten­dance was led by the Lord Mayor Locum Te­nens of West­min­ster, Ju­dith Warner, and the re­centlyap­pointed Malta High Com­mis­sioner, H.E. Joseph Cole, who also ad­dressed the con­gre­ga­tion at the start of the mass. It also in­cluded rep­re­sen­ta­tives of sev­eral Mal­tese or­gan­i­sa­tions. The event also en­tailed quite some cer­e­mo­nial, in­clud­ing en­trance and re­ces­sional pro­ces­sions with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of all the rep­re­sented as­so­ci­a­tions and clergy as well as the low­er­ing of the Mal­tese and Bri­tish flags and the var­i­ous other ban­ners.

In the evening, the choir at­tended the of­fi­cial Gala Din­ner held at the 5-star very cen­tral Churchill Ho­tel, fol­low­ing the in­vi­ta­tion of the chair­man of the Mal­tese Cul­ture Move­ment, Bernard Scerri. The guests were led by H.E. the High Com­mis­sioner Mr Joseph Cole and H.G. Arch­bishop Emer­i­tus Mgr Paul Cre­mona, both of whom had the op­por­tu­nity to salute the choir mem­bers in­clud­ing choir pres­i­dent, Rev. Fr Joseph Calleja. The choir also treated those present with a much-ap­pre­ci­ated bright ren­di­tion of the Pace works.

On Sun­day 9 Septem­ber the choir rounded up its artis­tic com­mit­ments at Our Lady of Vic­to­ries Church in Lon­don’s posh Kens­ing­ton dis­trict, again co-or­di­nated by Fr Vic­tor Camil­leri. The choir was wel­comed by the af­fa­ble epis­co­pal vicar and parish priest Mgr Jim Curry as well as the very re­cently ap­pointed as­sis­tant Fr Daniel Her­rero Peña, and in­tro­duced to the parish’s direc­tor of mu­sic and or­gan­ist Tim­o­thy Teague. It then an­i­mated the fam­ily mass, con­cel­e­brated by H.G. Mgr De­nis Hart, Arch­bishop Emer­i­tus of Mel­bourne, Aus­tralia, and Mgr Curry him­self, and at­tended by a con­gre­ga­tion which filled the parish church to ca­pac­ity. The choir sang in dif­fer­ent spa­ces nor­mally al­lot­ted to per­form­ing groups, and af­ter the mass gave a short recital which con­cluded this con­cert-tour’s artis­tic com­mit­ments.

Dur­ing its var­i­ous events, the Goz­i­tan choir was con­ducted by its mu­si­cal direc­tor Colin At­tard. The par­tic­i­pat­ing soloists were so­pra­nos Annabelle Zam­mit and Stephanie Portelli and mezzo-so­prano Marthese Borg.

The Goz­i­tan choir’s per­for­mances were very much ac­claimed by one and all.

The Gauli­tanus Choir’s Lon­don con­cert tour, which was also sup­ported by the Min­istry for Gozo, was its first for 2018, its 14th con­cert-tour abroad, and the choir’s sec­ond to the UK. Co­in­ci­den­tally, Lon­don had also been one of the UK lo­cal­i­ties host­ing the choir in first con­cert-tour abroad in 1994.

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