2018 has been an eventful year for the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra as it celebrated its 50th anniversary, a milestone in the local cultural scenario. A highlight in the orchestra’s current season is the MPO Valletta 2018 International Tour, marking the MPO’s first-ever appearance in the Americas with performances in Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and New York.
Directed by Armenian conductor Sergey Smbatyan, the orchestra paid tribute to composer Joseph Vella, who recently passed away. His symphonic poem ‘Rebbieha’ refers to Malta’s chequered history, and the country’s ability to overcome the challenges it has faced over the centuries.
The concerts also featured Ingolf Wunder in Alexey Shor’s Travel Notebook suite for piano and orchestra, 7 short virtuosic pieces conveying the composer’s impressions during his travels in a neo-classical style.
Shostakovich’s epic 5th Symphony was chosen as the main work in the programme, a composition representing one of the greatest enigmas in 20th Century music. Such dilemma stems from whether the finale depicts faithfully or satirically the regime’s yearned triumphal ending.
The performances at the Kimmel Center for Performing Arts, Philadelphia and the Strathmore Music Center, Washington, were received with great acclaim from audiences and critics alike. The MPO received standing ovations in both venues, with BlogCritics lauding the ‘world-class orchestra/.
However, the highlight of this American leg was the concert in New York’s legendary Carnegie Hall. The MPO mesmerised a sold-out auditorium in what eminent reviewer George Grella defined as an “impressive showing”.
The tour will now conclude in Russia with performances in the Moscow Conservatory Grand Hall and at the Mariinsky Theatre, Saint Petersburg.
The MPO Valletta 2018 International Tour is presented in collaboration with the European Foundation for the Support of Culture.