Gaulitanus Choir returns from London
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.