|La Stella Brass Ensemble & Soloists - Concert review|
On Saturday, 6 November 2010, the Aula Mgr Giuseppe Farrugia must have been glad to welcome a very large audience, comprising visitors, expatriates and locals, who gathered to listen to the La Stella Brass Ensemble as well as a host of truly worthy soloists.
The La Stella Brass Ensemble consists of a group of bandsmen, whose number varies depending on the music being performed, including established musicians and some of their students or former students mostly from the La Stella Band of Victoria.
As an admirer of the La Stella Philharmonic Society my attendance was not solely motivated by my love for music. My admiration for the young people performing demanded it. I was not betrayed. At the end of the concert I would have gladly called for the bottle to uncork and the glass to raise in honour of Noel Beck, assistant musical director of the La Stella Band, and of Mario Galea and George Apap both accomplished clarinets, George Camilleri, a gifted virtuoso with the euphonium and Anton Sacco, also a euphonium and a veteran of the band, as well as Antoine Theuma, tuba, whose skill is well known and acknowledged with praise.
These soloists performed enthralling music that ranged from the morose to the romantic into the exhilaratingly delightful.
The programme kicked off with Robert Schumann’s Three Fantasy Pieces skilfully and sensitively played by clarinetist George Apap. George Apap was then joined by the dexterous and insightful Noel Beck for the concerto by Carl Stamitz In Bb Major, scored for two clarinets. In both concertos the performers were ably and gracefully accompanied by Yvette Galea at the pianoforte.
The invariably pleasing George Camilleri followed with his spellbinding euphonium in the performance of Philip Sparke’s Aubade . George was accompanied on the piano by the sensitive Antoine Theuma.
Clarinetist Mario Galea, a long-standing La Stella Band soloist whose abilty with the clarinet is solely surpassed by his love for it, here also accompanied by Antoine Theuma, performed the Introduction, Theme and Variations by Gioacchino Rossini – a concerto that manifestly won the audience’s appreciation.
No less did George Camilleri who returned with a riveting euphonium to perform the absolutely thrilling Brillante by Peter Graham, again accompanied by Antoine Theuma. George received well-earned applause.
I clapped gladly in appreciation of the established soloists, and not less gladly in approval of the performance of the newer bandsmen, all of them quite young: Ino M. Attard (Althorn), Aaron Cini (Trombone) and Clint Gatt, Nathanael Zammit and Robert Buttigieg (Trumpets).
The second part of the programme, made up wholly of ensemble music, started with the execution of a composition, entitled Preghiere, by Joseph Vella, the musical director of the La Stella Band. I was curious about this three-part score and my curiosity soon became conflicting emotions – hope and torment and trust, angst and joy and hope again.
Prof Joseph Vella got followed by John Lennon and Paul McCartney in a nostalgic medley entitled The Beatles and arranged by John G. Mortimer, after which came the famous Ennio Morricone’s haunting Gabriel’s Oboe, this one on the arrangement of John Ivan Borg.
All of the younger bandsmen deserve credit and encouragement in their endeavour to become accomplished musicians. I was particularly impressed by Robert Buttigieg whose musicianship looks particularly promising.
I believe that it was fitting that the organizers of Festival Mediterranea should include as much local talent as possible in a programme of cultural events that has been so rich in foreign participants. Saturday’s local talent appeared promising and I hope that next time around the bottle and the glass could be raised again and more than once.