The 19th edition of the Victoria International Arts Festival is promising to be yet another fantastic run of concerts and other events. Five weeks of musical and artistic extravaganza is a luxury not to be missed, not least because the combination of high quality and free entrance is one that contributes to the uniqueness of the endeavour.
We have soloists (mainly pianists, organists, and singers), chamber formations of every conceivable kind and nature, to include string quartets, piano trios/quartets/quintets, wind trios/quartets/quintets, a saxophone quartet, piano duos and even an organ duo, five days of exquisite Baroque concerts performed on period instruments, choirs, big bands, and so much more.
Winners of major competitions in Europe for 2016, most notably the Music Competition for Youths of Upper Austria and Norway, and the highly prestigious EMCY, are featuring in our Festival as part of their prize. In all, over 600 musicians from 20 different countries will make a beeline for Gozo between June and July to make Victoria victorious. Young and mature performers will have the opportunity to perform, discuss, exchange ideas, teach, and learn from each other in master classes, and enjoy the wonderful atmosphere that Gozo has to offer.
The debutants’ concert will once again be combined with The Composer Speaks Series, and among the best of Maltese talent will be performing both in chamber formations and also as soloists. As for the past 10 editions, the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Joseph Vella will be opening and closing the Festival, with works by Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, and Vella being performed.
The different and diverse aspects of the Festival are coming together. It is like a massive puzzle that ultimately sorts itself out through individual and collective work by those involved. Venues are identified, from the glorious St George’s Basilica, to St Augustine and St Francis Convent, the Bishop’s Curia, the newly-restored Cittadella, to Il-Ħaġar – Heart of Gozo Museum. The centre-piece around which everything pivots is, of course, the fully-equipped Aula Mgr G. Farrugia, where a beautiful grand piano, a superb harpsichord and a unique Baroque organ live. An added attraction this year is the reconditioning of an antique Square Piano that was donated to Il-Ħaġar Museum by Joseph Vella, Artsitic Director of VIAF. This state-of-the-art Museum will also host a unique exhibition featuring priceless maps of the Great Siege of Malta. This exhibition was made possible through collaboration with Heritage Malta.
Anyway, the list is both exhausting and exhaustive. All you have to do is come along and bring your friends with you. It is truly a wonderful and unique experience, which puts tiny Gozo on the world cultural map.