What people say about the VI Malta International Music Festival
From the 15th of April till the 1st of May, Malta was welcoming participants and guests of the sixth Malta International Music Festival organized by the European Foundation for Support of Culture.
The unrivalled and fabulous event that turned a small Mediterranean island into the capital of world classical music – this is how the festival was described by its guests and participants. We can add a couple of accents to this: the large-scale music forum was accompanied by the Days of Armenian Culture and the final round of the First Malta International Piano Competition. In an overambitious attempt to cover the whole picture, we are presenting an overview of what was happening within these two weeks from all possible angles.
Dr Gavin Gulia
Chairman of the
Malta Tourism Authority
— Tourists do not appear out of the blue. We need to work constantly so that our island remains attractive, and “the sea and the sun” formula is not just enough. The modern tourist market requires new conditions, including large-scale cultural projects. In that respect, the Malta International Music Festival becomes a magnet for attracting people to the island.
Mediterranean Conference Centre Chief Executive Officer
— We would like to thank the European Foundation for Support of Culture and its President Konstantin Ishikhanov for implementation of this project in Malta. Representing the largest concert hall on the island, we are proud that we have a possibility to accept renowned stars of the world level.
Valletta 2018 Chairman
— International cooperation is the key notion of all activities under the project “Valletta: European Capital of Culture 2018”, and such events like the Days of Armenian Culture in Malta promote the image of the island as an international venue that can unite representatives from different countries.
Dr Owen Bonnici
Minister for justice, culture and local government of Malta
— I think, this is an example of how two countries can work together, even if they are not neighbours in geographical terms; but we are neighbours by spirit and because we both love culture enormously. We have seen so many talents from Armenian and Maltese cultures these days, and it is really wonderful. I have been the Minister of Culture for almost five years, and I have never seen such a close collaboration between two countries in realization of such a wonderful programme.
Conductor, director of the Opera and Ballet National Academic Theater named after Alexander Spendiaryan, chairman of the jury of the Malta International Piano Competition
— From 15 April and 1 May 2018, Malta became the music capital of the world. World celebrities on a small Mediterranean island, presentation of all facets of Armenian culture, a competition among gifted musicians from dozens of countries... What we experienced in Malta is really unique. Even if we focus only on the topic of competition, can you imagine, all participants of the Malta competition are winners of other competitions held in Russia, Germany, Spain, Armenia, Austria, and so on. And they all met in Malta.
Dr Kenneth Spiteri
Mediterranean Conference Centre
– Our conference centre is situated in the building that used to be a hospital of the knights from the Order of St. John, it has a unique history we are very proud of, and we are happy that new events, organised by the European Foundation for Support of Culture, add bright colours to its modern history.
Natasha Meli Daudey
Ambassador of Malta to the Republic of Armenia
— This festival has a high level of competence and diversity. It has a very interesting programme, and I am very happy to have the opportunity to attend it.
I truly believe in people-to-people contacts, so I think such festivals are the best way to establish relations between two or several countries. As we know, culture has no borders and makes it easier to perceive differences between us.
We are used to the fact that politics imposes something on culture, so it is always much better when culture comes first and politics follows it.
— When I discovered this festival and saw all these names – Maxim Vengerov, Grigory Sokolov – it was a big surprise for me. And now I am happy that I have this opportunity to participate in this project.
— It is a family-like atmosphere, we all – musicians and organizers – are constantly together. Half a hundred people communicate every day; we discuss our plans and projects. In addition to this, two orchestras from Malta and Armenia performed together; this is a very interesting example of cooperation. By the way, Giya Kancheli remarked that at the beginning they sounded differently, but gradually, day by day, they were performing in total accord.
Here at the festival we do not think about the mundane, we think about art, we create art, we are in a great mood and this is excellent.
— Although this is the first time I take part in the Malta International Music Festival and I have never been here before, I feel myself like at a family gathering where I know half of the people and I will be happy to get acquainted with the other half.
— This is unbelievable that there are so many young people in the orchestra I will be playing with. I am so happy with our partnership; I feel unique energy of this music ensemble. I am looking forward to performing with such a great conductor as Sergey Smbatyan. When you play with an orchestra, you do not follow it, you have to create a balanced partnership and I hope we will succeed in it here.
— Understanding between a soloist and a conductor is very important for a successful performance, and, probably, even more important than pure professionalism. In this case I can say that we have such mutual understanding. Obviously, one of the contributing factors is that Sergey is a violinist himself. I have to promise that one day I will persuade Maestro Smbatyan to play Bach Concerto for Two Violins. I appreciate this energy, this enthusiasm that is always demonstrated by the Armenia State Symphony Orchestra.
Director of the Malta Philharmonic
— Because each of these orchestras has its own artistic style, it is very interesting for me to watch the combination of two voices, complementing each other and creating a powerful ‘full-blooded’ sound, which allows looking for new colours in the orchestral score. Sergey Smbatyan, a professional of the highest level, has a unique musical vision and we really appreciate it. We have never had a combination of two orchestras on one stage, this is a very interesting experiment: for us, musicians, because it is a new experience, and it is also important for the audience.
Violinist and conductor
— I appreciate melodiousness, contemplativeness and harmony in music of Alexey Shor.
— I am happy that I am taking part in this festival, which can be called one of the most famous festivals in Europe. And this is a remarkable opportunity to perform together with the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra, heroes of this festival. This is the first time I perform with them, as well as my first visit to Malta. Despite that, I have known almost all musicians from this orchestra for a long time. And it can be said not only about me. It is possible to say that they deserved this right to be called an orchestra of the highest level. They are much in demand; they have an intense touring schedule. And, of course, I am looking forward to performing together with them on one stage in Malta.
Rector of the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory
— Alexey Shor is a very genuine composer with his own style. And his music really affects the performer, today it was visible how touching and warm was Shor’s music performed by Maxim Vengerov. This is a remarkable example of the successful partnership of a composer, a soloist and an orchestra.
— A new composition by Aleksey Shor ‘Seascapes’ is amazing. I believe it is a cycle that will be continued. This piece tells about beauty of the ocean and the sea; there are different colours, characters, and emotions. I feel a very strong influence of Russian music, especially Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Prokofiev, I feel the Russian soul of this music, not without a Mediterranean touch of course. This combination gives a unique atmosphere and a special charm. It develops the traditions of classical music: on the one hand, it is very traditional tonal music, and, on the other hand, it is beautiful modern music of our times.
Russian journalist, TV host,
commentator of Russia-Kultura TV channel
— Alexey Shor is some outlandish figure for me: he is an alien travelling in space. Music, which I have just listened to, could have been composed by some romantic from the first half of the nineteenth century, who would resurrect, live among us for some time and then compose this music. He would have written it in the style of the first half of the nineteenth century where he came from, but at the same time this music is very modern. This is how I see this unusual composer Alexey Shor.
— This is very symbolic that we are playing these romantic compositions by Alexey Shor in Malta. I really like this light harmonious music, which is always close to the heart of the audience.
‘Enigma’ programme host on Russia-Kultura TV channel, president of the Musical Olympus Foundation
— Alexey Shor is a very cinematographic composer. I can imagine very well how his music can be part of some romantic film. I would say he is an excellent melodist.
Artistic Director of Gnessins Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra
– It was a great honour for me to attend this festival, and I would like to thank Konstantin Ishkhanov, President of the European Foundation for Support of Culture, for this opportunity. I had a chance to see Malta, and it impressed me tremendously, as it is a real museum in the open air.
Another discovery was the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra: when I saw them on the stage of this concert hall I thought that all musicians were so young for an orchestra of such status. That made a very strong impression on me.
I never saw anywhere in the world orchestras of this level consisting of so young musicians.
Certainly, their work during the festival is worth admiration. They played so many accompaniments, and this is very difficult, more difficult than playing a learned programme. The soloists are all so different and they are always so nervous; I can say this as a conductor. They always keep you on your toes, you never know what happens next second; and in this respect this orchestra is really outstanding.
In addition to this, it was very interesting to listen to music by Alexey Shor. I first got acquainted with his art in Moscow, when he was a member of the piano competition jury. I realized then that he was a unique person, it is interesting to see his perspective in the current world of composers, he has his own language and style; he is distinctive from anything else in the art of composing. It makes it possible to see a different view and new meanings. The music by Alexey Shor conveys these objectives.
A Soviet and Russian pianist and music pedagogue, People’s Artist of the RSFSR, member of the jury of the Malta International Music Competition
– This competition stands out in my memory, because from the very beginning till the very end we had a friendly environment. Although we all have quite different temperament and personality, we had absolute mutual understanding in our work. We worked very positively and we are leaving on a positive note. This is one of the achievements of this competition.
In addition to this, this is my first time in Malta and I am very happy with this discovery, this is a remarkably picturesque place. I have very nice feelings both from the island and the competition.
It is also worth mentioning that it was a very good decision to begin the programme for competitors with compositions by Alexey Shor. His music is very clear and conservative, in a good sense of this word. When it is being performed, it becomes obvious whether this person loves music or not. With all my heart I wish the author of this music to continue in the same way.
A Russian violinist, Honoured Artist
of Russia, Rector of the Ippolitov-
Ivanov Music Pedagogical Institute
— This is my first visit to Malta and I am greatly impressed by this island. I have seen lots of interesting places in my life, but it is impossible to see anywhere else what you can see here: a unique culture, a unique nature, a unique way of life. And now, thanks to the Malta International Music Festival, European musical culture has been concentrated here, which in itself provides enormous food for thought, especially when you meet new musicians and listen to new compositions. All this is extremely important for the development of culture, and this is the heart and essence of any festival.
The festival does not only unite people, but also gives a possibility to find your way in the phenomena of culture and choose your niche as a professional in the sphere of art. The world is so complicated now that we need to look for ways to connect, and there are no better ways other than music, because music belongs to all mankind; it is some cosmic language that reflects the inner Cosmos of a human being.
The Malta International Music Festival has demonstrated a symbiosis of Maltese and Armenian orchestras. It was very interesting to compare the Russian and Western schools. As for Alexey Shor, the resident composer of the festival, he is a natural composer who has found his own way to music and achieved amazing results.