15.03.23 Aurora Theatre Recording Venue News Image

The locals live it, Maltese folk know about it and foreigners love to hear about it: that the Aurora is more than just a theatre. Because it is with great affection that locals know the place by name; Aurora, but they refer to it as il-każin, literally, ‘the club’. This is because, apart from being an opera house, the Aurora doubles the role of a band club, or rather, the seat of a civic windband, which known by the Italian name of Leone, turns out to be Gozo’s oldest out of 10 other bands, established in 1863.

Posted: 23rd March 2015

Actually, it was the Leone band that built the theatre, and not the other way round. So it is indeed righteous that this band calls the opera house ‘home’, and treats it as such. This means that the band performs on a regular basis in this theatre. Its (the band’s) management, owns, runs and manages the theatre, and while for PR purposes we sometimes refer to the Leone Philharmonic Society and at other times we refer to the Aurora Theatre, indeed they are practically the same.

 
But apart from musical concerts, whenever it is not busy with public events, the Aurora Opera House also serves as a rehearsal space and recording venue for the Leone band. A case, or rather, two cases in point took place in March, when the Leone Band recorded two collections of band marches for different occasions.
 
On March 1st, the Leone Band convened on the Aurora stage and recorded a set of 10 fine funerary marches. They will be launched in an evening of music and literature at the Gozo Cathedral, within the Gozo Citadel, on Saturday 28th March 2015 at 7.30pm. These funerary marches will be available on CD entitled Vexilla Regis, that may be purchased from the opera house, or online via email teatruaurora@leone.org.mt.
 
The Leone Band uses these funerary marches to accompany the Good Friday procession that issues from the Gozo Cathedral on Good Friday. In Gozo, there is quite a strong tradition of Good Friday processions, dating back to the times of the Knights of Malta. In fact, the one that goes out of the Cathedral church is the oldest known still in existence, and consists of 7 tableaux of high artistic value. The Leone Band accompanies this procession with its funerary marches. A Scouts group from Malta and hundreds of lay persons dressed in period costumes representing Roman troops and biblical figures also take part in this procession, headed by the Reverend Collegiate Chapter of Gozo’s Matrice church. Given this strong tradition embedded in local culture, funerary marches are quite popular so much so the band records a different set of 10 marches biennially.
 
Then on March 22nd, the Leone Band sat for another recording session. This time it was festive marches, which the Leone Band will use during the national external festivities in honour of Santa Marija (15th August) in 2015 and the subsequent village feasts. These marches have been recorded well in advance so that they will be issued in a separate CD later on towards the beginning of summer. They will also be on sale from the opera house and online via email teatruaurora@leone.org.mt.
 
In both recording sessions, conductor Colin Attard directed the 80-strong band. John Cauchi from PRO Studios (Sannat, Gozo) was the chief recording engineer. Both recording sessions were preceded by a course of band rehearsals that also took place on the main stage of the Aurora Opera House.

 

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