Victoria International Arts Festival is deeply honoured to be spearheaded by Joseph Vella, one of the best musicians to ever emerge from our islands and, by far, the most internationally-performed Maltese composer of all time. Through a long and illustrious career, he broke away from the currents that tended to stall progress when he was still a young man in Gozo, and, instead, embraced innovation while at the same time never losing sight of the tradition that made him. He never followed trends: he set them, and many have been those who followed them.
His many contacts the world over have enriched the Victoria International Arts Festival to no uncertain degree, establishing it as Malta’s leading Festival of its kind. From its humble beginnings in 1997 consisting of five or so concerts, today it presents well over 35 cultural events every year. Solo musicians, ensembles, and orchestras commission works from him and his intelligence and creativity in this area know no bounds. New works are composed that never fail to amaze both musicians and audiences alike – suffice it to say that this year alone no fewer than 60 works of his (to include 6 new ones) will have been played across the globe.
For this year’s edition of the Victoria International Arts Festival, audiences will have been regaled with a few of his works, namely, the song-cycle Seħer op. 39, which was performed in the inaugural concert by the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra; the Six Preludes op. 70 which were given an extraordinary interpretation by Biliana Tzinlikova, Professor of Pianoforte Studies at the Mozarteum, Salzburg; the Passacaglietta op. 9 and Segments no. 3 op. 95, executed by Jože Kotar (Principal Clarinettist of the RTV Slovenia Symphony Orchestra); the motet Jesu Dulcis Memoria op. 79, sung by none other than the Magdalene College (Cambridge) Chapel Choir; and, last but not least, his Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Pianoforte op. 109 performed by top London saxophonist Sam Corkin accompanied at the pianoforte by Timothy End. The diversity of instruments and chamber formations he has written for is impressive, and already, this year, musicians who have performed in our Festival have asked Prof. Vella to write a work for them.
We augur continued fruitful work and music-making to Joseph Vella. Victoria International Arts Festival would not be what it is without his presence and direction. Hats off!