Gozo’s Gaulitanus Choir back from London tour

Mario Borg & Annabelle Zammit Haber

The Gaulitanus Choir has just returned from a choral tour in London where it gave a number of performances following the invitation of the Malta High Commission and the Malta Day UK Organising Committee. The choir played a central role in the Malta Day celebrations held in the UK´s capital on Saturday 8th September.

The choir´s first commitment was a performance during the well-patronised Maltese Fair held at the Westminster Cathedral Hall. The choir performed Carmelo Pace´s very appealing semi-folkloristic a cappella works: Lapsi, Btajjel and L-Imnarja. The choir then joined the UK´s St Sebastian Brass Band conducted by Peter Cole in Dion Buhagiar´s arrangements of three very popular Maltese songs.

The choir then moved on to the majestic Westminster Cathedral, where it animated the liturgy during the official high mass commemorating the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The concelebrated mass was led by H.G.  Mgr Paul Cremona, Archbishop Emeritus of Malta, together with a very good number of Maltese priests, including Fr Victor Camilleri, who was instrumental in coordinating the event.

The Gaulitanus Choir was accompanied by Jonathan Allsopp, the Cathedral´s organ scholar, on the splendid grand organ – built in the early 20th century by Henry Willis III.

Amongst other works, the choir performed compositions by its founder-director Colin Attard, namely Magnificat, Allelulia and Is-Sultana tal-Paci, as well as his arrangements of A Jesuit Light Mass and Waslet isSiegħa. The mass ended with the choir joining the St Sebastian Brass Band for the Maltese National Anthem.

The big congregation in attendance was led by the Lord Mayor Locum Tenens of Westminster, Judith Warner, and recently-appointed Malta High Commissioner, H.E. Joseph Cole, as well as representatives of several Maltese organisations.

Mario Borg & Annabelle Zammit Haber

The choir also attended the official Gala Dinner held at the 5-star Churchill Hotel, following the invitation of the chairman of the Maltese Culture Movement, Bernard Scerri. The guests were led by H.E. the High Commissioner Mr Joseph Cole and H.G.  Mgr Paul Cremona, both of whom had the opportunity to salute the choir members including choir president, Rev. Fr Joseph Calleja. The choir also treated those present with a much-appreciated bright rendition of the Pace works.

On Sunday, the Gaulitanus Choir choir rounded up its artistic commitments at Our Lady of Victories Church in London´s Kensington district, again coordinated by Fr Victor Camilleri.

The choir was welcomed by the affable episcopal vicar and parish priest Mgr Jim Curry as well as the very recently appointed assistant Fr Daniel Herrero Peña, and introduced to the parish´s director of music and organist Timothy Teague. It then animated the family mass, concelebrated by H.G. Mgr Denis Hart, Archbishop Emeritus of Melbourne, Australia, and Mgr Curry himself, and attended by a congregation which filled the parish church to capacity.

During its various events, the Gozitan choir was conducted by its musical director Colin Attard. The participating soloists were sopranos Annabelle Zammit and Stephanie Portelli and mezzo-soprano Marthese Borg.

The Gozitan choir´s performances were very much acclaimed by one and all.

H.E. the Malta High Commissioner Mr Joseph Cole said, “Your uplifting performance of psalms and hymns at Westminster Cathedral has animated the Mass so beautifully… I have received a number of very positive comments about your singing after the event. I hope that in the future, there will be more instances of collaboration between the Malta High Commission, London and the Gaulitanus Choir, to continue showcasing Maltese talent in the United Kingdom.”

The Gaulitanus Choir´s London concert tour, which was also supported by the Ministry for Gozo, was its first for 2018, its 14th concert-tour abroad, and the choir´s second to the UK. Coincidentally, London had also been one of the UK localities hosting the choir in first concert-tour abroad in 1994.