Valletta Baroque Festival 2024 Launched

Valletta Baroque Festival 2024 Launched
Nov 14 2023 Share

The Minister for the National Heritage, the Arts and Local Government Owen Bonnici announced details for the 12th edition of the Valletta Baroque Festival, which will take place between 11 and 28 January 2024.

Minister Bonnici stated that this year is a special edition with an exceptional line-up and dynamic performances. “Extending across three weeks, the festival provides an essential Baroque experience in splendid venues like St John’s Co-Cathedral, The Verdala Palace, Palazzo Parisio, and Teatru Manoel.  These locations boast genuine Baroque settings adorned with opulent decor, sculptures, and paintings characteristic of the period,” Minister Bonnici said.

The Valletta Baroque Festival is an important attraction for cultural tourism. “This festival is a crucial one for this agency because apart from opening our calendar year, it is a festival that is closely linked to our country. I am saying this since it is a festival that continues to strengthen our identity, as represented through our heritage, festive celebrations, architecture and art,” stated Aaron Zahra, Festivals Malta Chairman.

This is the 3rd edition that Festivals Malta is producing since the festival was added to the agency’s portfolio of events in 2021. Frans Agius, Festivals Malta CEO, remarked that the varied programme contains more than 30 concerts spread over 3 weeks, which are being held in more than 15 different places around the island. This year’s programme includes an exceptional list of international musicians and local artists.

The festival’s Artistic Director, Kenneth Zammit Tabona, on his part, said that “from its very inception this festival enjoyed a strong international reputation and has established itself among the top ten festivals of its kind in Europe”.

The opening concert ‘St John Passion BWV 245 by Johann Sebestian Bach’, which will be performed by the Valletta Baroque Ensemble and Kor Malta under the musical direction of Riccardo Bianchi at St John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta, will open the festival with grandiosity. The festival will wrap up with an opera for children with the name of La Serva Padrona by Pergolesi under the musical direction of Sarah Spiteri, and scenic direction of Jacob Piccinino. The festival has a stellar line-up including artists Robin Pharo, Zefiro Ensemble, Alon Sariel, Holland Baroque with Wu Wei, Lucile Boulanger, Vox Luminis, and Les Contre-Sujets.

Following last year’s success, this year’s edition will also see the return of The Rock Troupers & the Valletta Baroque Ensemble with their project BaRock at the Manoel Theatre. The festival will also feature a collaboration with the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra, featuring a diverse line-up of Malta’s finest concert pianists playing the Bach Keyboard concertos.

The Valletta Baroque Festival is produced by Festivals Malta in collaboration with Teatru Manoel and Visit Malta. Tickets and more information are available on www.festivals.mt/vbf.


Viral Video: Birds Unable To Find Shelter After Mosta Tree Removal

Viral Video: Birds Unable To Find Shelter After Mosta Tree Removal
Nov 14 2023 Share

A heart-breaking video and a poem to go with it show birds flying around in Mosta at night time after the ficus trees they used for shelter were cut down in a controversial move. 

The video was shared by local HipHop artist Liston Bongailas, who accompanied the post with a poem: ‘they took our home/ they took our shelter/ they took our peace of mind/ and we ended up in chaos.’

‘Ħadulna darna
Ħadulna l kenn
Ħadulna l wens
U spiċċajna biss f’ġenn

Illejla kollha għal Barra
Illejla kulħadd iddisprat
Ma nafx għaliex lilna l għasafar
kulħadd min familtu separat


L ġwienaħ ittertqu
Itiru bla waqfien
Fejn ħa naqbdu immorru
Kullimkien ħadulna, anke l widien.

Ejjew flimkien inwerżqu
Forsi xi proxxmu jismgħana
Forsi xi darba nerġgħu lura
Mal familja fid dar tgħana.’


The video was shared over a whopping 2.2K times, amassing 2.1K likes and over 400 comments in the 13 hours since it was uploaded. 

The decision to cut the ficus trees was met with immense backlash, with activists and groups like Birdlife Malta and Steve Zammit Lupi calling out authorities for it.


Cocaine User Stabs Friend With Sword Thinking He’s The Devil

Cocaine User Stabs Friend With Sword Thinking He's The Devil
Nov 13 2023 Share

Josef Grech, a 33-year-old resident of Cospicua, was apprehended on Saturday morning after allegedly assaulting his friend with a sword. 

The victim, with a profusely bleeding right arm, sought help at the local police station. Grech, reportedly in a paranoid state following a six-day cocaine binge, told authorities he believed his friend was “the devil.”

When police arrived at the scene, they found Grech seated outside the residence, repeatedly asserting, “I thought he was the devil,” in reference to the victim. It was revealed that both individuals had been consuming cocaine together when Grech, influenced by drug-induced paranoia, attacked his friend with a sword. Grech had been on a six to seven-day cocaine spree leading up to the violent incident.

Following the assault, Grech was taken into police custody and later to Mater Dei Hospital. Initially unfit to provide a statement, he later chose to remain silent when declared fit. 

In court, dressed in a suit with anxious relatives behind him, Grech pleaded not guilty to charges of grievous bodily harm, assault, and threats against the victim. The defense, highlighting the influence of drug-induced paranoia on criminal intent, requested toxicological tests on Grech’s blood and potentially hair samples.

Bail was contested by the prosecution, citing the severity of the offenses and the victim’s critical condition. Grech’s clean criminal record and the difficulty of approaching the victim due to hospitalization were presented by the defense. 

Despite the defense’s arguments, the court denied bail due to the nature of the charges, concerns about tampering, and Grech’s drug addiction. Instead, the court placed him under temporary supervision with a probation officer. AG lawyer Cynthia Tomasuolo handled the prosecution.


Activists Call Out Destruction Of Ficus Trees In Mosta Square

Activists Call Out Destruction Of Ficus Trees In Mosta Square
Nov 13 2023 Share

A decision to remove trees growing by the side of the Mosta Rotunda for over half a century has sparked outrage by civilians and activists alike. 

Among the ones condemning the act was NGO Birdlife Malta, who wrote that they are ‘pleading with the authorities to stop the work immediately.’

The work is endangering the livelihoods of various bird species like the white wagtails, common starlings and Spanish sparrows, which take refuge in the ficus trees during the night when they roost together in safety. 

‘This is the only roosting site for White Wagtails outside of Valletta and the idea of removing them is wrong, whilst the timing is even worse. We call on the authorities to stop the works immediately.’

Activist Steve Zammit Lupi also called out the decision, saying that they have been offering shade, shelter and greenery for well over 50 years. 

‘All Mosta Local Council members in agreement to remove the trees. Unbelievable. These trees should be your pride. Why?! Shame on you ERA for giving the green light. Our trees are only protected on paper’, wrote the activist.