Music fans in Malta are truly blessed. From alternative rock to EDM, one doesn’t need to venture far to find a thriving scene. Yet not everyone might know that Malta is also home to one of Europe’s most exciting Baroque music festivals. If you’re the kind of person who would rather baroque on than rock on, look no further than our lovely capital city in January 2017.
The Valletta International Baroque Music Festival has not been around nearly as long as the music it celebrates, having only debuted in 2013. Despite this, it has quickly risen to fame as one of the festivals to look out for, year after year.
Perhaps it’s not surprising that Valletta is such an appropriate setting for the event, considering that ultimately it was built in the Baroque era by the Knights of St. John. The festival takes place across multiple venues in our capital city, which is great for a couple of reasons. The first is that you get to see and experience more of Valletta, and the second is that every venue is absolutely fitting in setting the mood for each concert.
There are far too many of these venues to mention, but the heart of it all is the Manoel Theatre, one of the oldest theatres in Europe which has remained active to this day. As Malta’s National Theatre, there is no doubt that the Manoel Theatre is the perfect place to host the festival. There are several concerts hosted at other wonderful venues too, though, which include St. John’s Co-Cathedral, the Grandmasters’ Palace, and several churches and auberges.
In line with the quality we’ve come to expect from the Valletta International Baroque Music Festival, the programme features a dynamic range of local and international guests, which come in the form of both solo performers and whole orchestras.
We can’t say there’s any one guest we’re most excited about, as the whole programme is promising. However, a few of our anticipated highlights include:
- Reiko Ichise, a Tokyo-born viola da gamba player who has become known as one of the leading musicians in the UK with regard to her instrument of choice
- The Sixteen, which is unquestionably one of the world’s greatest ensembles, with an artist residency at Wigmore Hall being only one of the prestigious recognitions awarded to it in the UK
- Haymarket Opera Company, which is definitely one of the leading orchestras to keep an eye out for when it comes to 17th and 18th century material
- Nicolas Dautricourt, who is one of France’s finest violinists in the way of chamber music
As you might imagine, this does not even begin to cover the complete programme of artists, but luckily you can check that out on the festival’s website, with inclusions of the dates and venues they’ll be performing at. Conduct proper research so that you can choose your favourites! Check out the full program here: http://vallettabaroquefestival.com.mt/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=73&Itemid=83
Unlike many festivals (although you do need to keep in mind that this is not exactly your Primavera or Coachella), you will need to pay every individual performance. Considering that these artists of extremely high calibre, this is not unreasonable. We also reckon that you won’t be able to catch more than a few performances anyway, so this arrangement may suit you far better than having a single block ticket. Students and senior citizens should be aware that special discounted tickets are available.
All in all, the Valletta International Baroque Music Festival is absolutely worth your time, and is the place to be if you happen to be in Malta in the mid-to-end period of January. Though you could expect a great festival any year, this year it happens to coincide with the EU Presidency of 2017, which is bound to mean that no details have gone unnoticed in the mission to further Malta’s status as a beacon of culture.