April - May 2008
Annual Concert by St Lawrence Philharmonic Band
This yearís Annual Concert by the St Lawrence Band at Palazzo Carafa at Vittoriosa Wharf, held on 26 April 2008, was a special edition as it marked the 125th anniversary of the Band Clubís foundation. Guest of honour was the Prime Minister, Hon. Lawrence Gonzi. The Band was formidably conducted by Mro. Paul Schembri who for the occasion made a well-mixed selection of musical pieces with different styles from different epochs. The first half of the programme was dominated by classical pieces, notably Beethovenís Egmont and Brahamsí Hungarian Dances. The second part consisted of jazz, film-music and other popular sing-along themes: Bernsteiní The Magnificant Seven, Peetersí Excepts from Charles Caplin films; Sweeneyís Swing the Mood. The programme was compered by Vittoriosa-born Mr Gorg Peresso whose off-script remarks about his childhood experienced at Vittoriosa gave the event a sense of serenity and familiarity.
St Monica Choir at St Lawrence
The Church of St Lawrence with its perfect acoustic effect offered an excellent venue for the magnificent programme of a selection of music a cappella by the St Monica Choir to a packed audience on 17 May 2008. The choir, now in its 44th year of existence, is one of the leading choirs in Malta and is renounedfor its high quality. It has taken part in numerous events locally has also performed in various concerts abroad as part of exchange visits. Among these are concerts in Liverpool, Hungary, Austria, Spain. One of their most impressive feats has been the presentation of Beethovenís 9th Symphony at the Manoel Theatre accompanied by the National Orchestra. At Vittoriosa their repertoire included Brucknerís Ave Maria. The Choir was directed by its Founder, Sister Beniamina Portelli, whose parents hailed from Vittoriosa. She was assisted by Mro Jean Paulk Attard. The event was part of a fund-raising campaign towards the Augustinian Sisters Mission in the Philippines.
Toni Bajada, hero of the Great Siege 1565
The feats of this well-known courageous Maltese hero of the Great Siege have been recounted many times. The late Emilio Lombardi among his many novels in Maltese, also created a thrilling adventure based on the Great Siege operations at Birgu in which Toni Bajada is protagonists. Lombardiís novels, written in the early years of the 20th century, were very popular and accessible to the public as they were printed in weekly instalments and were eventually bound to form a complete book. This best-selling novel has now been translated into English and was published by Book Distributors Limited of San Gwann.
Mro Emanuel Spagnol conducts Naniís Requiem
The performance of Anton Naniís Messa da Requiem by the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra and the Pro Canto Choir at St Johnís Co-Cathedral on 15 April 2008 drew a large audienc. Anton Nani was the fourth of five generations of composers. The Messa da Requiem, composed in 1879, won the Gold Medal in the London Universal Exhibition in 1886, and is considered his masterpiece. The orchestra and choir were capably conducted by Mro Emanuel Spagnol from Vittoriosa. Mro Spagnol is better known as the First Horn with the orchestra, however he was various other musical directorships under his care, including the Vittoriosa HRH Prince of Wales Band and the Mosta Nicoloí Isouard Band. On this occasion he showed his mastery in successfully keeping together the various forces under his direction.
Mozart at Vittoriosa
The Collegiate Church of St Lawrence was turned into a magnificent theatre of chamber music and singing for an unforgettable evening of Mozart music on 19 April 2008. The performance by the Dodecantus Choir of the UK features Mozartís sublime work, Solemn Vespers. This is an complex operatic composition which was given a fresh and effusive interpretation by the 16-member choir. The Dodecantus Choir was founded in 2004 by Zelda Lawrence-Curren who is also the director. The intention was to have a very restricted number of professional singers specialising in chamber music in order to createan intimate atmosphere for their audiences. These have just returned from a successful performance at Eglise Saint-Lazare in Avallon, France. In Malta, beside the concert at St Lawrence, they has three other committments, at St Johnís Co Cathedral; at St Paulís Sqauare, Mdina, and at St Paulís Anglican Cathedral, Valletta, where they teamed up with Maltese choir, New Choral Singers.
Pope Benedict XVI at San Lorenzo in Piscibus
This years marks the 25th anniversary of the youth organization called Circolo Giovintuí San Lorenzo. This organisation regularly meets at in the old church of San Lorenzo in Piscibus, situated a small distance away from the Vatican. The youth club was inaugurated by Pope John Paul II and aims to welcome and give support to the many foreign youths who visit or reside in Rome. The organisation is also the administrative backbone of the bi-annual international World Youth Day which this year will be held in Syndny, Australia. Pope Benedict XVI recently paid a visit to the youth club and said Mass at the church of St Lawrence.
Academy on "Birgu and the cult of St Lawrence"
On the occasion of the 1,750th anniversary of the Martyrdom of St Lawrence which is being celebrated this year, a musico-literary academy for the general public was held at St Lawrence Collegiate Church on 10 April 2008. The progamme which was chaired by H.E. President Emeritus Dr Ugo Mifsud Bonnici, included a number of talks and studies on St Lawrence which treated the subject from various angles: theological, historical, sociological, folkloristic. The guest speaker Prof. Guglielmo de Giovanni-Centelles who spoke about The Popular Devotion to St Lawrence. The other speakers were: Lino Bugeja: The Cult of St Lawrence in Medieval Malta; Fra John Critien: The Church of St Lawrence during the Orderís Reign; Gorg Peress: St Lawrence in Maltese Literature; Mons Charles Scicluna: St Gorg Precaís association with St lawrence; Mons Lawrence Gatt: The Treasures of the Church; Lorenzo Zahra: Poetry about St Lawrence; Joseph Porsella-Flores: The Veneration of St Lawrence thoughout the ages. The musical scores, all from Vivaldi, were played by Odile Micallef on the violin and Juliette Lopez on the organ.
Symposium on "St Lawrence in archaelology, in art and in history"
The Academy about St Lawrence by a Symposium on 12 April 2008 also to mark the 1,750 years from the Martyrdom of St Lawrence in AD 258. The Syposium, which was attended by interested guests, was hosted in the Main Hall of the Magisterial Palace at Fort St Angelo, specially made available for the occasion by the Knight Resident, sive Governor, of Fort St Angelo, Fra John Critien. The discussion was opened by Prof. Guglielmo de Giovanni-Centelles who made an erudite presentaion on San Lorenzo Santo del Mediterraneo. This was followed by a slide feature on St Lawrece in the Art by Fr Gino Gauci. Prof. Stanley Fiorini delved into the medieval roots of the origin of the Birgu Parish Church in this thesis St Lawrence of Birgu to 1530. The Syposium was closed by an account on St Lawrence Chuch in Ecclesiatical Documents by Mons John Azzopardi.
Article on Vittoriosa City Core
Fr John Avellino in an article on Il-Gens praises the excellent development works carried out at the Vittoriosa Wharf by the Vittoriosa Waterfront Consortium, including the establishment of a successful Yacht Marina of international standard, run by none other than the famous Camper & Nicholson; the Casino di Venezia; the luxurous apartments; the numerous restaurants. However, he maintains that the investment drive should now focus on the city core, ie. the residential area. For example he mentions the need for the rehibilitaion of Vittoriosa Square, the upgrading of the old Collacchio zone including the opening to the public by Heritege Malta of the Auberge de France. He also complains on the high cost of social housing as the demand for property at Vittoriosa increases.
Feature on Vittoriosa Slave Prisons
In the Spring 2008 edition of Treasures of Malta, Lorenzo Zahra writes a researched study on the Vittoriosa underground galley slave prisons. These were excavated by the Order within pre-existing caves in the vicinity of Fort St Angelo soon after their arrival in 1530 and after they were taken by surprise by a slave mutiny within the Fort itself where they used to be kept. The prisons remained in use till after the Orderís departure in 1798. The area was dregged to the ground by the Colonial Government in 1907 to make way for a tennis court for use by the British naval staff.
Vittoriosa Regatta win
The Vittoriosa Regatta team won the Section B competition in the 31 March 2008 regatta. The national regatta is held twice a year in the Grand Harabour on 8 September and on 31 March. The competition comprises two sections, section A whose winner also takes the Shield, and section B. Participants are the cities and town surrounding the Grand Harbour and other seaside villages. After the event the Vittoriosa team proudly brandished the various trophies won while the winning caique was hauled to Vittoriosa Square and placed at the foot of the Victory Monument for public viewing.