The Gaulitanus Choir of Gozo have done their part to help brighten up the festive season for the community as much as possible, while fully adhering to current health and safety regulations. It came with the second edition of Christmas happiness, a mini-series of varied musical events between Christmas and New Years. Artistically directed by the choir’s founding director Colin Attard, Christmas happiness was supported by the Directorate of Cultural Heritage within the Ministry of Gozo.
The first event took place on Boxing Day at St Francis Church in Victoria, which provided a beautiful setting for the concert titled Festive ropes. The concert featured the Gaulitanus String Orchestra led by the miniseries’ artistic director Colin Attard and conducted by Reggie Clews (in the inevitable absence of Marcelline Agius).
Works from the standard repertoire for string orchestra by Warlock, Sibelius and Bartok modified with Christmas works by Kowalewski and Colin Attard. That of the latter was A Christmas fantasy for solo violin and strings, performed by violinist Pierre Louis Attard, who replaced Marcelline Agius. The audience included Joseph Buttigieg, who represented the Minister for Gozo, MP Joseph Ellis, President Emeritus Anton Tabone and Father Etienne Gilson OFM (stand-in for the indisposed Father Superior Joseph Xerri).
After a second planned event and the participation of the Gaulitanus Choir itself abandoned given the health situation that prevailed at the time, the series concluded with the 10th edition of A New Year’s toast, held at the Kempinski Hotel San Lawrenz on January 1.
Violinist Pierre Louis Attard and pianist Milica Lawrence, who were to feature in the canceled album A musical journey concert a few days earlier, teamed up with choir soprano soloists Patricia Buttigieg and Anna Bonello, thus ensuring that A New Year’s toast could go on – the only fixed choral event hosted by Gaulitanus that has continued steadily throughout the pandemic.
The concert presented and alternation of instrumental and vocal numbers. The violinist and pianist performed works by Weber and Viardot (the latter having probably given his first performance in Malta). The pianist also played a short New by Poulenc.
Accompanied on the piano by Colin Attard, Patricia Buttigieg performed two Italian songs by Bellini and Donizetti respectively, while Anna Bonello performed two French songs by Poulenc and Satie respectively. Violinist Pierre Louis Attard joined them for a rousing finale: a three-song Neapolitan medley, which the audience enthusiastically joined in, clapping along to the marching beat of the last number – which was eventually encored. .
Gaulitanus’ Christmas program also included a Christmas concert at the Capuchin Church in Victoria on 15 December and two Christmas carols: the first on Saturday 18 December as part of The Magic of Natale at Munxar’s, and a second on Christmas Eve at the Kempinski Hotel. In view of the health situation, this second highly anticipated event brought together only the soprano soloist of the choir Patricia Buttigieg and the musical director Attard at the piano.
The Choeur Gaulitanus augurs a healthier new year full of cultural events for all.
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