Although small in stature, Malta’s musical output is quite surprisingly anything but, with the archipelago’s artists effortlessly spanning genres and styles, allowing themselves to be influenced by the musical developments taking place in the Western world and beyond, while also leaving room for innovation and creativity as they find their own voice. The result is a rich cornucopia of musical indulgence promising something to appeal to everyone’s senses.
The Maltese islands’ relationship with music stretches back centuries, with records of the presence of the local folk music, called ‘għana,’ ranging as far back as the 15th century. ‘Għana’ continues to be practiced and promoted to this day, most notably through the annual two-day Għanafest music festival, which takes place every year in June.
The island also has a strong history of musical societies, many of which also transform into marching bands to mark the celebration of the village feast, with one of the oldest of these being the St. Philip’s Band Club, founded in 1851. Then, in 1968, Malta saw the foundation of its first orchestra, known at the time as the Manoel Theatre Orchestra, which would eventually go on to become the internationally celebrated Malta Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) that is still active to this day.
The 20th century also saw the rise of many amateur musicians who would play in the thoroughfare and establishments of Valletta’s Strait Street, also known as ‘The Gut.’ This practice continues to this day, with the country boasting hundreds of amateur and professional performers who play at events all over the island.
Nowadays, Malta’s musical stature has grown significantly, with the island-state even making its mark on the international stage. The MPO has grown considerably over the past few years, performing in leading venues around the world in collaboration with renowned conductors and soloists, while local exports, such as the internationally celebrated tenor Joseph Calleja, and distinguished violinist Carmine Lauri, have received acclaim for their talents all over the world.
Locally, the country also has a thriving subculture of alternative and electronic music, with local bands and DJs hosting gigs and events through the entire year. In recent years, the island has also been attracting an ever-increasing amount of international festivals and academies to its shores, with the most notable being the InClassica Malta International Music Festival, which is held each year, and brings some of the biggest names in the classical world to perform in venues across the island.
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