‘The Artist as Hero’

The 3 Palaces 2017

Moden Festivals have been growing since the early 1920’s to provide artistic and exciting and thrilling gathering spaces to share moments that often elude us in our everyday lives . It is the case that in the festival form we can apprehend the struggles of our daily lives transformed into expressions of joy and reflection ,

fun , playfulness and all those useful thoughts and feelings that make for mutual respect and understanding of our common yet complex purpose.

That European festivals started more formally in 800 BC in Greece only serves to draw us into the ever-present need to celebrate jointly and to come together to share experience and to give voice to the great mysteries and rituals of nature as the great artist and poet WB Yeats put it.

In the 2017 Festival I have quite literally drawn an arc across thousands of years in order to share with you the permanent feature of live music-art in our World and the need to express the common form of our nature within our personal lifetimes. In naming the festival ‘The Artist as Hero’ I have sought with my artists this year to use the combined energies of the ‘company of 2017 ‘ as it were to extend the vocabulary of music and musical sounds and indeed to shine a focus on the contribution of extra- ordinary musicians and composers from 5000BC and indeed earlier to the present day who have visibly contributed to the full and searching musical expression of the human spirit.

In our line up this year it is a thrill to welcome members of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra who will be offering up such such beauty in their cello ensemble and we are so excited by their presence.

The great American pianist Andrew van Oyen will offer the heroic music of Europe’s great Frans Lizst and indeed the music of his son-in- law who was of course none other than Richard Wagner . Lizst and Wagner truly reshaped our 19c World both in form and content and it will inspire not only a fresh look at this music and its performance , but might also allow a younger generation to embark on new compositions for the concert hall.

We have ‘cast back’ and put together in our programme with Barnaby Brown the use of pipe instruments and other music based on a 40,000-year-old find from Hohle Fels; a vulture ulna pipe based on a 27,000-year-old find from Isturitz; and a Scottish Highland bagpipe based on originals from c. 1680.

Barnaby gives us a sense of the hands across time which is so thrilling that the British Museum gave him a special concert to explore these rarities and we are extending that offer here, to give a voice that Malta has indeed been the home of artists passing through and staying for millennia and I felt that to bring the music back here would be a form of time-travel and of course this naturally constitutes a form of artist – heroism in bringing music across the seas from our joint pre-historic past .

Paganini as violinist was the ‘darling of Europe’ and since that time violinists have had a special place in our hearts . The award winning violinist Ben Baker is part of the great tradition of violinists stretching way back and he will offer us the thrill of being with a truly creative artist who is re-imagining the violin for todays world.

Queen Elizabeth the First’s long and peaceful reign gave rise to William Shakespeare and also benifitted composers such as William Byrd and many others . Alongside ThomasTallis and Orlando Gibbons the World renowned Blenheim singers will feature the finest a capella singing of the 16/17 c and their cohesive polyphony is an extroadinary window of the World.

It is always wonderful to hear Maltese voices wherever they are , and Nico Darmanin is one of the finest voices to have appeared in recent years and we are thrilled that will perform for us in a great a varied concert . Naturally no festival would be complete without Quartets and the stimulating delight of the wonderful and youthful Castallian String Quartet and the sounds of The Lafer Saxophone quartet will balance our musical sounds bringing us right up to our own time .

I hope you have a great festival and much look forward to being with you all.

Peter Manning
4 Sept 2017

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