A SUCCESSFUL ITALIAN TOUR BY THE ASTRA FOLK GROUP
The Astra Folk Group has just returned from a nine-day tour based in the mountain village of Carpineto Romano. They were guests for the first edition of the International Festival Folclore dei Lepini, organized by the Gruppo Sbandieratori e Musici dei 7 Rioni Storici to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its foundation.
For this extraordinary occasion, the Astra Folk Group, together with other groups that included Gomfoi da Mouzaky from Greece and I Salviani from Basilicata in southern Italy, took part in parades held every day through the streets and squares of the locality. Dance shows were performed in the Centro Storico of Arena and in Piazza Santa Maria in Segni. Led by the local Sbandieratori, these events developed into spectacular performances, characterized by colour, merriment and festivity every evening, set in the magnificent mountainous setting. The locals showed their appreciation by their passionate cheering and applause.
The Festival reached its climax on the last day when once again all the groups took part in a dance and song show that was concluded by a fireworks spectacle. At the end of the evening the Astra Folk Group presented mementos to the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Carpineto, to the leaders of the participant groups, as well as the Festival organizers, all of whom reciprocated. The Mayors of these two towns expressed their appreciation of the Astra Folk Group performances and extended invitations to festivals planned for the future.
During its stay, the Astra Folk Group was formally received by the Mayor Sig Emilio Cacciotti and his deputy Sig. Matteo Battisti, representatives of the Festival organizers and various other local personalities. In a welcome speech given by the Mayor he expressed the honour and pleasure he felt to welcome and host among in his community the Astra Folk Group. He hoped that the Gozitans would take back with them a good impression of the locality that would augur a return visit in the near future. Mr Joe Borda, of the Ministry for Tourism and Culture, representing the Government of Malta, replied by thanking the Mayor for the splendid welcome and expressed the wish that the youth exchange started with this locality four years ago would be extended and strengthened further in future.
The visit to Carpineto Romano, a town of 6000 inhabitants in the heart of the Lepini Mountains near Rome, took place between the 14th and 24th July. The tour was arranged through the assistance of Omar Bugeja, Astra Folk Group representative in Malta, and of the Sbandieratori e Musici dei 7 rioni Storici, who already visited Malta twice recently. The town is renowned for its good food and wines, which the folk group members had ample opportunity to confirm during their stay. That partly explains why evening meals often developed into singing and dancing parties to the delight of the locals. The meeting of different traditions and cultures in a happy atmosphere helps to make such experiences memorable.
Various posters announcing the visit of the Gozitan group were hung in various places in the town. Brochures illustrating the group’s 37-year history and achievements, as well as giving information about the Maltese Islands, were distributed among spectators. This visit was certainly another feather in the cap for the group, led by Artistic Director Anton Zammit and assisted by wardrobe officer George Farrugia. The group boasts of a wide repertoire of folk music, some of which was composed specifically for this ensemble.
The Astra Folk Group wishes to thank Hon. Giovanna Debono, Minister for Gozo, the Hon. Francis Zammit Dimech, Minister for Tourism and Culture, the Hon. Tonio Fenech, Parliamentary Secretary, the Victoria Local Council led by Mayor Robert Tabone, Mr Joe Borda (Deputy Chairman National Festivities Committee), Mr Omar Bugeja (President and co-founder of Hamrun Youth Initiatives Association), and last but not least all the sponsors who supported the tour literature with their adverts. This visit certainly enhanced the name not only of the La Stella Philarmonic Society, but also of the Maltese Islands.
(Photos to be uploaded soon)