Tour 2008 to Valletta, Malta

Details

Old University, Valletta

Day 1 Friday 14 March
0400 hrs Load Coach and Depart Music Department
1155 hrs Flight departs Gatwick Air Malta
1600 hrs Malta time Arrive Luqa - Malta Transfer to Harmony Hostel, Gzira B & B
Day 2 Saturday 15 March
Free Day – outing and communal evening meal TBA
Day 3 Sunday 16 March
Free Day –
1630 hrs Coach to Hal Ghaxaq
2200 hrs Coach return to Harmony Hostel
Day 4 Monday 17 March
1000 hrs Coach depart Hostel to Cirkewwa, [ I coach via Music School to collect percussion] – ferry to Gozo - coach to Victoria – Tour of Gozo including Dwejra (Inland Sea and Azure window is a must!)
[1145 hrs Tony H, Clive G & Les N arrive Luqa and transfer to Gzira/Gozo]
1630 hrs Rehearsal in Concert Venue joined by Chorus Ubanus 1800 hrs
1930 hrs Concert 1 – St.Augustine Church, Victoria in Gozo
2030 hrs Concert ends – Reception as guests of the local Mayor
2230 Hrs Coach depart Cirkewwa – return to Hostel
Day 5 Tuesday 18 March
1100 hrs Load Coach and leave Sliema for Bormla where free morning
1400 – 1700 hrs Pre-concert rehearsal Bormla (Chorus Urbanus c1630 hrs)
1900 hrs Dress and prepare for Concert
1930 hrs Concert 2 - BORMLA Parish Church
2230 hrs Coach return to Sliema
Day 6 Wednesday 19 March
Free morning
1000 - 1200 hrs Tony to work with Johann Strauss M/Sch Students
1330 hrs Coach to Valletta
1400 – 1700 hrs Pre-concert rehearsal in Aula Magna Hall, Valletta
1830 hrs Dress and prepare for Concert
1900 hrs Concert 3 – Aula Magna at the Old University in Valletta
Post Concert Reception with Rector
2200 hrs Coach return to Sliema
Day 7 Thursday 20 March
Free Day
1000 - 1200 hrs Tony to work with Mediterranean Institute Students
1900 hrs Sliema to Rabat (Roman Villa)
2300 hrs Rabat to Sliema
Day 8 Friday 21 March
c0530 hrs Depart Harmony Hostel, Gzira for Luqa
0840 hrs Depart Luqa - Malta for London Gatwick
1055 hrs British Time Arrive London Gatwick, board Coach to arrive approximately
1630 hrs Music Department, Sheffield Fine

Review of Final Concert in the Malta Times
Saturday, March 29, 2008, 00:00 by Maria Ghirlando

Contemporary compositions
Sheffield University Wind Orchestra, Aula Magna
The Music Department at the University of Sheffield has enjoyed a long-standing friendship and artistic relationship with Malta thanks to Charles Camilleri. Its Wind Orchestra (SUWO) was among us a few days ago to give a number of concerts in collaboration with the Mediterranean Institute of the University of Malta, on the initiative of its director, Simon Mercieca.

I was fortunate enough to attend the last of these concerts, supported by the Ministry for Education and Culture. On this occasion, the SUWO was joined by local musicians from the music division at the University of Malta and from the Johann Strauss School of Music.

I was rewarded by a very pleasant evening consisting of a programme of predominantly contemporary compositions interpreted by an orchestra of committed adolescents conducted by their untiring director Anthony Houghton, and featuring as its highlight Leslie Neish, a world class, state-of-the-art tubist and a superb musician.

After a fine rendering of our national anthem, the orchestra proceeded to perform the first item on the programme, Mendelssohn's Overture for Harmonie, Op. 24. A somewhat shaky start settled into more cohesive playing and finally eased into confidence as the orchestra reached a convincing finale. With most teething troubles over, the SUWO went on to perform Time Remembered by Philip Sparke (b. 1951) where a beautiful entrance by the clarinets, oboes and the rest of the instruments in turn kept up a steady tempo in a piece characterised by much interplay of themes.

It was very moving to see Mro Camilleri, obviously not only approving of, but definitely enjoying every moment of the SUWO's Maltese premiere of his Il Nostro Tempo, commissioned purposely by the SUWO and Anthony Houghton, following discussions between the director and the composer. The result was a dynamic work in three movements: Space Probes, Death March and Awareness, which depict some of man's great achievements in our time, his destructive elements and his slow process of awareness of the power of love and spirituality. The side-drums captured the sound of machine-gun fire remarkably realistically in Death March which emphasised the destruction and futility of war.

This was followed by Għar Dalam, an impressive work by another contemporary Maltese composer, Philip Ciantar, who was a regular visitor to the Music Department at Sheffield some five years ago when he was working there on post-graduate research. Għar Dalam depicts a long and sometimes turbulent national historical journey from Il-Bidu in which a full orchestra effectively produced resounding effects of something mysterious and awesome; it modulated to the serene but still mysterious L-Għanja tal-Ħemda and ended with Lil hinn, characterised by an assertive beginning which progressed vehemently to a likewise assertive ending.

Composed in 1932 by Ottorino Respighi, Hunting Tower - Ballad for Band, proved to be very movimentato, evocative of wild Scottish reels emerging from a turbulent atmosphere. Tim Jackson's Passacaglia composed in 2006, originally the final movement of his Symphony for 32 Horns, and later reworked by him for symphonic band, flowed with a steady momentum from a rather solemn and contemplative mood through increasingly busy textures evolving into a triumphantly positive conclusion. George Lloyd's The Forest of Arden was perhaps the most conventionally melodious piece to be played that evening. Written in 1987 on a symphonic and almost Wagnerian scale, with an abundance of ideas wrought into a grand design, the piece boasted of a very impressive build-up and came to a grandiose ending serving as an appropriate climax to a very engaging evening of music-making.

This was not all. What placed the concert on a higher plane was Episodes and Echoes (2005) by Peter Meechan, recognised as one of today's most exciting composers whose music is informed by completely different influences from preceding generations including jazz, dance, funk and acid house. Mr Neish stole the show on his tuba. He captivated all with his enrapturing expression of a wide register and range of effects, procured by seemingly caressing his notes. He was a joy to watch and listen to, even more so in his solo encore Fnog in which he combined his versatility on his instrument with the use of his voice and obviously enjoyed every bit of it. So did we as an audience and we look forward to his return.


The Band


Tour Repertoire

Bright Spirit (Judith Bingham)
Chorale Prelude (Cesar Frank)
Episodes and Echoes for Tuba and Band (Peter Meechan)
Fanfare for the Common Man (Aaron Copland)
Forest of Arden (George Lloyd)
Għar Dalam (Philip Ciantar )
Huntingtower Ballad for Band (1932) (Ottorino Respighi )
Hymn to the Fallen (Williams arr Sparke)
Ouvertüre für Harmoniemusik Op.24 (Felix Mendelssohn)
Passacaglia (Tim Jackson)
THE SHADOW OF GOLGOTHA (Wouter Lenaerts)
Toccata Marziale (Ralph Vaughan Williams)

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