Who would have thought you could create music by taking to the swings? And that Malta would play host to one of the most celebrated composers working today? Well, this year’s edition of the Malta International Arts Festival will aim to satisfy both of these fantasies, and it’s got even more up its sleeve.
Under the guidance of Artistic Director Michelle Castelletti and now in its 11th edition, the MIAF appears determined to give audiences a healthy mix of high-brow performances and interactive, ‘communal’ experiences that can be enjoyed by all in a relaxed manner.
As we rev up for the festival, running from 8th to 18th July, here are some highlights to help you navigate its programme.
1. Arvo Pärt
Doubtless the guest of honour at this year’s Festival, the deeply influential Estonian composer Arvo Pärt will be performing a concert at a venue to match his musical prestige – St John’s Co-Cathedral.
2. Tlieta (3)
Zfin Malta, Malta’s national dance company (pictured above), has been growing from strength to strength ever since it was first set up back in 2014, and with this upcoming performance, they will be addressing gender representation in the arts by showcasing the work of three female choreographers.
Instead of audiences having to come to the show, the show will now come to them courtesy of this roving performance devised by Sean Buhagiar and Simon Bartolo. The cast and crew will turn an old-school Maltese bus into their touring vehicle, delivering a free-of-charge performance across various towns – more festa or carnival than traditional theatre performance. And although old Maltese bus nostalgia is starting to grate, Buhagiar and Bartolo have a solid track record when it comes to audience-pleasing theatre.
4. Young Performers Platform
This one will be a bit of a gamble, but it should be worth checking out for that reason alone. Responding to an open call, a variety of young artists will be given the chance to shine within the MIAF. Will we get a glimpse into the stars of the future, or will this be a recipe for disappointment?
5. Bandli (‘Swings’)
Make your own music at St George’s Square in Valletta – on the swings, and with a friend. The interactive sound-art exhibition ‘Bandli’, devised by Ruben Zahra, will allow visitors of all ages to compose their own musical arrangements on the specially designed swings.
6. POW Ensemble
High-brow meets low-brow in this eclectic musical performance by the Dutch group POW Ensemble, who will also be incorporating work by Maltese poets and composers in what promises to be a hit with audiences. Apart from the Dutch-Maltese multicultural exchange going on here, the band will interpret the prose works of literary Modernist Gertrude Stein.