It is with great pride that I present to you the 2018 Malta International Arts Festival, European Capital of Culture special edition. This year is an unprecedented year for the Arts in Malta. It is a year where culture has finally taken centre stage. It is a huge privilege and great honour for me to have been the Artistic Director leading MIAF as we prepared our course along the last years towards 2018.
This year’s festival is a celebration. It is a celebration of the Mediterranean, a celebration of diversity, a celebration of mankind. It is a bringing together of different art forms, of diverse cultures, and a bringing together of creative minds, allowing for explosive bursts of colour through synergy and hybridity.
I am a strong believer in values, and in the duty that the Arts have, to reflect society, and to react to the world it is living in, becoming a commentator – and, perhaps, more than that, a pro-active one. The Arts do have the power to transform people’s lives and we have the power to make a difference. And therefore, this year’s festival is looking at the Mediterranean with all its multifarious facets – be they colour and diversity, passion and celebration, or resurgence and humanitarianism.
We are bringing to Malta Hofesh Shechter with Political Mother – emotive, complex, gritty, raw, impassioned and perhaps controversial, but true and facing stark realities that we sometimes hide away. We are bringing National Geographic photographer and humanitarian, Reza Deghati and his work with children – Exiled Voices – the story of refugees told by those who live it – the refugees; together with the poignant work of Darrin Zammit Lupi and Charles Mifsud.
MIAF is also about excellence. And what better way to show this than with one of the greatest orchestras of the world – Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra under the direction of Daniele Gatti. This is a first for Malta – and hopefully a first that will pave the way for many more. This project is one of the best examples of entities working together to bring the very best to our shores. It has been a privilege to work with Valletta2018 and Manoel Theatre.
Crucially, the festival believes in education and the nurturing of talent and giving opportunities and providing platforms. Never before has MIAF been programmed with this so much at the forefront of its thoughts. One of these projects is with Concertgebouw itself, where our very own Malta Youth Orchestra will have the opportunity to perform side-by-side Concertgebouw. This will surely remain an indelible, incredible experience for our young musicians; just like the classes with Hofesh Shechter will, the residence with KAMEA DANCE COMPANY, the workshops in stop-motion for children which will culminate in live screening, numerous calls and opportunities, and the annual DANCE HYBRID.
With the 2018 festival we take you with us on an imaginary journey – a journey of discover – where surrealism and reality fuse into one another and become one. Another highlight of the festival is our residence with the Italy-based company – NO GRAVITY, where we will be travelling through time and space, with music, aerial choreography and visual spectacle. ARIA and TRILOGY will leave us all in awe and wonder.
The festival always seeks new work – and 2018 sees us premiere a new creation, germinating from Immanuel Mifsud’s text, and fusing different artforms with three other of Malta’s stalwarts in the arts – Vince Briffa, Paul Portelli and Kris Spiteri. This new creation will leave you silenced.
Following on from last year’s live screening with London Sinfonietta and Mica Levi’s Under the Skin, this year we take a different tack as we present to you a classic adaptation of Gaston Leroux’s 1910 novel Phantom of the Opera, with live music by MINIMA accompanying the original 1925 iconic silent film, starring Lon Chaney, Sr.
For the choral aficionados, we proudly present none other than Choir of Clare College Cambridge in a residence over three major choral performances, services, as well as an open workshop; also working together with our St John’s Co-Cathedral Choir.
And how can one programme a festival in 2018 without having a tribute for Debussy. At MIAF2018, we do this through chamber music with our virtuoso strand, as well as an explosive programme with the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of the energetic and passionate Gergely Madaras to include Debussy’s La Mer, Charles Camilleri’s Mediterranean Piano Concerto (soloist: Dmitry Ishkanov) and Britten’s Four Sea Interludes – a programme of sea, tempest, beauty and colour. We also celebrate the music of Debussy visually in an art exhibition by Kenneth Zammit Tabona – Watercolour Madness – which will be open throughout the festival at the Malta Society of Arts.
We open the festival with a celebration – BIG BAND BROTHERS, KAMEA, Maltese Dancers and a re- vamped KUBU; and we close curtains with a party on the beach with Another Way by AGBEKO, an afro-rock-funk-psych spectacular from Manchester – after the world cup final!
2018 will also be the year where we are really taking art to the people. Throughout the festival there will be street theatre, dance, music, visual art, cinematography, puppetry, alternative experiences and more in the streets of Valletta. Just walk through your beautiful capital city – our Baroque gem – and be prepared for something new every day. Performers will include Karromato from Prague, Teatru Nu’ from Spain, Lieko Quintet from the UK and Maltese Motion.
The Malta Society of Arts also becomes a hub for morning performances, with our electronic/audio- visual strand in Week 1, including works by several Maltese composers, a tribute to Joseph Vella (a great loss to our country’s cultural landscape earlier on this year), music for tape and electronics by the likes of Jonathan Harvey and Krzysztof Penderecki and Sounding Dance by Renzo Spiteri and dancers – a series of artistic encounters designed for engagement with public spaces that explore modes of interaction within a space with, through and between sound.
Week 2 takes on a more classical approach with a virtuoso strand of chamber music, including phenomenal violinist Kana Ohashi, prodigious violoncellist Waynne Kwon, brilliant trumpeter Illiam Quane and our very own sublime soprano Nicola Said. Not to be missed is the immersive experience of the re-working of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons by Max Richter.
I hope I have enticed you all to want to join us on this Alice in Wonderland type journey – to watch the Phoenix rise from its ashes, to be moved by the poignancy of truth, and to dance and celebrate as it there were no tomorrow. It has been my total pleasure.
Dr Michelle Castelletti