Maltese classical composers receive well-deserved attention


Maltese classical music compositions were the showcase for this year’s edition of Inclassica’s International classical piano competition with its participants and eventual winner performing pieces by Malta’s most famous composers.

Taking place in Dubai, far from Malta due to the limitations of COVID-19, the performance was the culmination of a two-year project, which saw 14 preliminary competitions held at prestigious cultural centers around the world, such as Hamburg, Vienna, Washington DC, Tel Aviv, Seoul, London, Moscow and Yerevan, among others.

The top five ranked participants from each event have been invited to compete in Dubai.

The competition was part of the InClassica International Music Festival A 30-day celebration of classical music in the Middle East with 37 world-renowned soloists, seven famous orchestras and 12 leading conductors.

Even though this year’s performance took place far from the Maltese coast, the country’s music received the attention it well deserves.

During the first classical piano tour, participants were invited to perform a piece by some of Malta’s most famous composers.

It was a mind-boggling list of some of the most talented Maltese figures in classical music, which included:

  • Charles Camilleri – Anatolia; Xnobis or Etudes nos. 4 & 5 from Book Three Picasso Set ‘and Interlude II from Times of Day
  • Mariella Cassar – Opus or Oriental Prints
  • John Galea – Spirals
  • Albert Garzia – Parts of Divergence and Consequence; Tiny miniatures; Rumanz (a tribute to Mozart) or Wacky Noise Thing
  • Albert Pace – Tidwir Part I or II
  • Ruben Pace – Asteroid Field
  • Manoel Pirotta – Sad Carnival; Two Cute; Triptych; Two Maltese photos or victims of Ponte Morandi
  • Joseph Vella – Scherzo or more of a Sonatina movement

Joseph Vella even received special praise from Dmitry Alexeev, professor of piano and professor of advanced piano at the Royal College of Music in London, when he said: “There were many works by Maltese composers, and all very different. I really liked some of them, for example Joseph Vella’s Sonatine. In my opinion, this is a very serious job that deserves to be on the concert stage.

The music, it seems, struck a chord among the judges.

22-year-old Japanese participant Yuki Amako performing with the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra in the final

22-year-old Japanese participant Yuki Amako performing with the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra in the final

“A very wide range of composition schools was presented. I am happy that the piano repertoire is expanding in this way, ”said Pavel Gililov, piano teacher at the Mozarteum in Salzburg.

“This music was unknown to the majority, and it seems to me that this is one of the very important initiatives, and one can only welcome such an initiative, which has become one of the objectives of this competition.”

“We listened with interest to a variety of works. And, of course, they reflect the history of the development of music, because different Maltese composers can sense the trends of the main European currents, from twelve-tone to naïve painting, I would say… I am very happy that the prize for the best interpretation of works by Maltese composers will be awarded.

Hae-Young Kim, head of the piano department at Chugye University of the Arts in Seoul, also had kind words.

“It’s the first time I’ve heard music from Maltese composers, and – especially for Koreans – it’s quite unusual and very surprising in many ways. It seems that there are a lot of interesting pieces, and I learned in this competition that there are a lot of really good pieces. There is also a whole range in the style of the compositions, and some are very technical, not easy, ”he said.

Michel Beroff, winner of the first prize at the first Oliver Messiaen International Piano Competition in 1967, professor emeritus at the Paris Conservatory and exclusive EMI artist for more than 25 years, also had his say in the influence of music. Maltese.

“I can see oriental influences in certain pieces, sometimes it’s a bit of pastiche, sometimes I even felt the influence of French music. Some music has a more modern language, although most of it is not avant-garde – fairly classic writing. Sometimes you hear a distinct Maltese sound, but an island like this of course has influences from all over that help fuel the imaginations of all composers.

Laureates of the International Classical Piano Competition in Dubai

Laureates of the International Classical Piano Competition in Dubai

Japanese Yuki Amako and Russian American Artem Kuznetsov gave exceptional performances and shared the special prize for the best performance of a Maltese composition.

The duo faced an impressive jury, which included some of the world’s most respected and acclaimed performers, teachers, composers and musicologists.

The president of the jury was Alexander Tchaikovsky, People’s Artist of Russia (2005) and winner of the Moscow City Prize for Literature and the Arts (2011), the Dmitry Shostakovich Prize (2011) and the Government Prize of the Russian Federation for Culture (2016).

“In the first round, the candidates were offered a number of works by Maltese composers, which they themselves chose. And I have to say that among that list, I really liked several pieces, and there were some very interesting performances from the participants… the impressions, both of the pieces themselves and of the performers, were very strong. For example, Asteroid Fields by Albert Pace and Tidwir by Ruben Pace are beautiful pieces. I want to bring them to Moscow and let them play at the conservatory or college. They are not that difficult, but they have their own specifics: you have to create your own images, these are such tasks for expressiveness. Any competition must pay close attention to contemporary music and encourage performances. I like to hear something fresh. said Alexander.

“It turns out that everything is not so simple in European music. For me, Maltese composers are terra incognita. I would like to explore this question further in order to understand how typical these works are of the Maltese composition school, ”said Georgs Pelecis, first president of the Riga Center for Early Music and professor at the Latvian State Conservatory.

Konstantin Ishkhanov: Founder and President of the European Foundation for the Support of Culture

Konstantin Ishkhanov: Founder and President of the European Foundation for the Support of Culture

The stellar competition and festival could not have taken place without the European Foundation for the Support of Culture, a non-profit organization founded in Malta by an Armenian entrepreneur and philanthropist, Constantine Ishkhanov.

“It is a great pleasure for me to announce this special award in recognition of ‘The best interpretation of a Maltese composition’. Maltese culture, without a doubt, occupies a unique place in the world and is one which, while embracing multiculturalism throughout its extraordinary history, has forged its own unique identity ”, Ishkhanov said.

“As an organization based in Malta, we at EUFSC are very proud to promote this initiative and help export the rich cultural heritage of this island to new audiences around the world. “

The first prize of the competition went to Russian national Miroslav Kultyshev, who, in addition to a prize, will tour 20 concerts in Austria (Vienna, Salzburg), Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, Russia ( Moscow, Saint Petersburg), Switzerland, Turkey, the United States and the United Kingdom.

More information about this event can be found on the official InClassica website website.

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