For a small organisation like the Gaulitanus Choir, a non-affiliated Gozitan choir formed in 1990 with little if any resources, the organisation of a festival it is surely a substantial feat. Yet assiduous voluntary work and a strong determination have meant that Gaulitana: A Festival of Music has now reached its sixth edition. Featuring a series of concerts given by a mixture of international and local artists, ensembles and choirs, artistically directed by the choir’s founder-director Colin Attard, the festival is being held from the 11th March to the 30th April.
Working on a formula which seems to have worked so well in the past years, this Eastertime festival opens and ends with performances by the Gaulitanus Choir itself. The opening concert is indeed a sacred one (appropriately scheduled in Lent), during which the choir and its soloists will present a number of sacred works - which, to give homogeinity to the programme are all in English. Pride of place is given to Benjamin Harlan’s cantata “Easter Trilogy” which will be premiered in the Maltese islands. On the other hand the finale is a completely contrasting concert where the choir will present semi-acted versions of two popular musical shows: Richard Rodgers’ “The King and I” and Lionel Bart’s “Oliver!” (the latter specifically chosen to celebrate Dickens’ bicentary). This finale, in which the choir will also be joined by guest foreign soloists, will be produced by choir member Terry Shaw, an expert in this field.
In between several other recitals will be held, featuring choirs, solo singers, string and brass chamber ensembles and a number of pianists. The events are multifarious and range from the typical concert-fare to a quasi-reflective spiritual event during Holy Week and to an open-air busking session. Typically, the festival not only presents established performers but also gives some space to up-and-coming talent. Moerover the festival is out-reaching and is held in various localities throughout Gozo. Indeed, besides the enhancement of Gozo’s cultural milieu and its promotion on an international scale, the festival aims to boost Gozo’s Gozo’s touristic appeal – internal and otherwise – during a period which is rather lean and to impart the educational and social aspects of the arts to the whole spectrum of the population including children. And it is the Gaulitanus Choir’s intention that this festival keeps gradually developing, always reaching higher standards.
It is with specifically because of this that the choir is finding the backing of government agencies, local councils, hotels and corporate bodies which help it keep going on with its initiative. Thus this edition of the festival is being supported by the Ministry for Gozo, the Ministry for Justice, Dialogue and the Family, the Gozo Council for Culture & Arts, the Victoria, Xaghra and Xewkija Local Councils, Michael Grech Financial Investment Services, the Kempinski Hotel San Lawrenz and the JDB Digital Printing.