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The 2009 edition of Festival Mediterranea, yet again this year, dug for musical treasure into its own cultural soil and, without the need to go very deep, came up with riches that delighted the audience that gathered in the Aula Mgr. G. Farrugia of St George’s basilica to listen to Mario Galea (clarinet), George Camilleri (euphonium) and George Apap (clarinet), three musicians of the La Stella Philharmonic Society which organizes the festival.

Although he presented the performers with perceptible pride, Prof. Joseph Vella, musical director, almost suggested modesty in the audience’s expectation for the evening.  But the performance that his bandsmen and accompanying pianists delivered was far from modest, eliciting earnest praise for their intonation, dynamic shaping, infectious passion and perfect balance. 

The concert started with clarinetist George Apap, the youngest music tutor with the La Stella Band, performing Gerald Finzi’s Bagatelles – Prelude, Forlana and Fughetta – and displaying a virtuosity that carried the audience along its gentle spells and joyous moods.  Later in the evening Apap returned with Sonatina, by Joseph Horovitz, in three movements, each of which respectively drew the listeners into the clarinetist’s intimate lyricism and almost exuberant jazz, which Yvette Galea enhanced with her masterly piano accompaniment.

Mario Galea, leading soloist of the La Stella Band, presented Andre Messager’s Solo de Concours for clarinet and piano.  And what a performance it was! Adroitness, technique and art convened to give pleasure and bring forth admiration.  Maria Frendo, accompanying at the piano, was ever the restrained protagonist that sustained throughout a wonderful musical achievement.

Spectacular tone quality, impressive technical ability and expressiveness to a fault qualified the third soloist of the evening, George Camilleri, with his magical euphonium.  Camilleri, also accompanied by Maria Frendo at the pianoforte, played Goff Richards’ Midnight Euphonium and, in conclusion of the evening, Pablo de Sarasate’s Zigeurnerweisen (Gypsy Airs).  Lyricism, romance, song, bravura and dance ravished the ear and delighted the music buds of all the people presented.

These same people are now being invited to the concluding event of Festival Mediterranea on Saturday, November 21, 2009, featuring the La Stella Band in concert at Teatru Astra.

The programme shall include P.I. Tchaikovsky’a famous 1812 Overture and Marce Slave,  C. Orff’s “Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi” from Carmina Burana, Georges Bizet’s I pescatore di perle, E. Waldteufel Estudiantina, and R. Temperton’s Thriller in tribute to Michael Jackson. 

The general public is invited to attend. Entrance is free of charge but patrons are to be seated ten minutes before the initiation of the concert. 

Photos: Joe Attard