2015.11.25 Leone Band in Concert Review News Image

Foto: Jurgen Attard

INGLESE: It was a night of tributes and commemorations, last Saturday, 21st November 2015 at the Aurora Opera House, as the Leone Band put up its annual symphonic concert. The annual occasion marks the anniversary (this year in its 65th year) since the Assumption of Lady into Heaven was proclaimed as a dogma of the Catholic faith by Pope Pius XII in Rome in 1950. But more to that, this year’s edition of Leone Band in Concert celebrated and commemorated various other significant events.

Aggiornato: 25 Novembre 2015

Leone Band in Concert Album IconConductor Colin Attard and Leone musicians first paid tribute to the late bandsman Joseph Zerafa, from Għajnsielem, who tragically lost his life earlier on in November. Zerafa was meant to perform with the Leone Band on this evening but fate had it otherwise.

The Leone Band opened the concert with Franz von Suppé’s <<Morning, Noon and Night in Vienna>> overture. The Austrian composer had penned this as an attention-seeker to a play. At the Aurora, it set the quality of the music, which did not falter until the very end, straight from the beginning. Very commendable was Michael Pirotta’s solo on the Bb clarinet.

Then it was time for much awaited selection from Verdi’s <<La Traviata>>. In anticipation, this was dedicated in tribute to the victims of the Paris terror attacks, to which the Aurora had lit its façade in the tricolore on November 14th and 15th. The message that was sent to the people of the French Republic through the Embassy in Valletta was spelt out and eventually, the music from La Traviata – which also speaks about the death in Paris – was dedicated to those victims and the noble ideals. The La Traviata selection brought fond memories of a very successful opera production at the Aurora, images of which were projected in the background as band and soloists cruised through their scores with agility and finesse. Hats off and thumbs up go to David Portelli on the Bb trumpet, Josef Attard on the althorn and Joseph Gauci on the euphonium.

Commemorations – and indeed fine music – continued in the numbers that followed. The Leone Band decided to commemorate the 450th anniversary of the Great Siege of Malta with Giovanni Giumarra’s heroic march entitled <<1565>>.  It was quite a short but intriguing piece of music in which the band demonstrated prowess and dexterity. Giumarra was quite precise and detailed on the emotions he wanted to convey. In fact, he wrote handwritten details (sometimes as frequent as every six bars) to make sure that any interpretation went close to the narrative he wanted to project. ‘1565’ was divided into different sections, which Giumarra himself described: “Ferve il lavorio dell’assedio dell’anno 1565” (the build-up to the 1565 siege), “esaltazione e fede della resistenza contro il barbaro prepotente” (uprising and resistance against the barbaric enemy), “eco di un canto antico Maltese” (echo of a Maltese old hymn), “il nemico in rotta” (the enemy retires), “uniti!” (united!,) “esultanza di popolo” (the people’s exhaltation) and “storia grande di piccola gente” (a big story of a small people) and the audience had the opportunity to follow and appreciate this story in style.

The next item, quite longer in duration, was Eric Coates’ suite <<The Three Elizabeths>>, dedicated to Queen Elizabeth I, Elizabeth the Queen Mother and Queen Elizabeth II. This piece was performed as the current British monarch is set to visit Malta for yet another time, a few months before she turns 90 years of age, and just a few weeks after she broke the honourable record of being the monarch with the longest reign on the British throne. The suite, divided in three sections was very challenging on the band, especially with its contrasts in moods and rhythms. Its breathtaking rendition, with agility maintained throughout each of the pompous fanfares, is a feather in each and every musician’s cap. It was topped off with authentic archived videos of King George’s and Elizabeth (the mother)’s wedding, as well as the first visit of Elizabeth II in Malta.

Leone Band in Concert IconThe concluding number of this year’s annual concert was a cross-over from classic to pop with a hint of jazz. Aptly entitled <<Concerto d’Amore>>, a love-concerto, conductor Colin Attard took the opportunity to dedicate this piece to world-peace and harmony. Indeed, notwithstanding the (some of them) sombre commemorations and remembrances, the audience was sent off with a happy and jovial spirit as Colin jived and the Band mastered Jacob de Haan’s music.

As the audience rose to Joseph Stivala’s band anthem Il Leone, the Leone Band and the Aurora Opera House proudly stamped the seal of success on this annual and important event. The Leone Band affirmed its standing and the Aurora honoured another commitment with its ever-loyal patrons.