Kinemastik International Short Film Festival 2014

The Kinemastik Short Film Festival will be celebrating its tenth anniversary, from July 20 till 27, at the Herbert Ganado Gardens, in Floriana.

Kinemastik is the NGO responsible for bringing to Malta a selection of film d’auteur, and seeks to link young filmmakers in Malta to the world of cinema. Offering local screenings and worldwide distribution of locally produced work, Kinemastik provides local filmmakers with a platform for their work.

A full day-by-day program me is available here.

Kinemastik is supported by the Malta Arts Fund.

[PHOTOS] Agricultural Fair in the heart of Gozo

Walking into the small square behind the Parish Church in Nadur, known to the local folk as il-pjazzetta, you could already notice the smell of hay as it welcomed visitors to the 21st Annual Agrarian Festival. A small, picturesque fair showcasing the villagers’ love and pride.

Thinking of spending your holiday in Gozo? Check out this romantic Farmhouse Villa in Nadur.

Malta and Australia: two islands brought together in an art exhibition

Malcolm J. Naudi, Managing Director, Malcolm J. Naudi Communications writes

Tomorrow I will have the privilege to attend the opening of an art exhibition, Malta and Australia, by the President of Malta, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, at San Anton Palace, Attard.

Rita Muscat Galea, originally from Qormi, is a Maltese-Australian artist who lives in Melbourne. Over the past few weeks and months, I have got to know this extraordinary character who has great courage and personality, which is reflected in her work.

Together with other Board Members of the Malta Guide Dogs Foundation, we have worked to make this first exhibition by Rita a reality and, as a result, she has committed to give the Foundation a donation to help it in its mission to provide training and other assistance to visually impaired persons, such as in the use of the long cane, mobility and orientation skills, and guide dogs that will assist them to interact in their daily environment, enhance their individuality and gain independence in their everyday life.

Malta and Australia is an intimately personal exhibition that sums up the attachment Rita has for the island of her birth and the one where she has made her home and grown a family. Consisting of 26 artworks, varying for still-lifes and city-scapes to beach and harbour scenes of Valletta, Sydney and Melbourne, apart from the Australian Bush, many paintings are executed in plein air, enabling her to inspire people’s hearts and imagination.

Made in various mediums, like oil on canvas, oil on boards and charcoals on paper, Rita has always enjoyed the challenge of painting on different mediums and in different styles – from realism to impressionist, which enable her to explore life through her art and art in her life. Often the scenes of her paintings will reflect a mood or a frame of mind that enables her to externalise these strong emotions.

Rita Muscat Galea’s father was a baker and her mother a homemaker. She was always unique and an individualist in her ways of being, expressing her creative side since early childhood. First it was music, singing in festivals and competitions around Malta, and learning the guitar, but also designing her own clothes.

Her love for oil painting began with her grandmother giving her an art kit at the age of 12. Her first paintings harnessed her connection to water and Malta’s seascapes.

When she was 16, she emigrated with her family to Australia, which immediately reminded her of the connections she had with water and Malta’s landscapes.

Now married to an Australian-born Maltese and having three children, she currently lives on a farm in the Melbourne suburb of Victoria. She never lost her desire to paint and opened her own art studio (Muscart Art Studio and Gallery) in 2008, where students are encouraged to experiment with various mediums, and both traditional and modern art.

Having previously exhibited her works in the Maltese Centre in Melbourne and at community fund-raisers, it is the first time she has shown her work in the land of her birth. Since she left, she has been back to Malta four times.

“I never cease to be amazed by the beautiful and variety of landscapes Malta offers. Every time I come here I take many photos that, when I return to my studio in Australia, help me to put to canvas what I had seen and felt over there,” Rita said.

Once the Malta and Australia art exhibition over, Rita Muscat Galea envisions painting her autobiography in Malta over the coming years.

Do make it a point to visit the exhibition, which runs from Saturday, 14 June-Tuesday, 24 June, 2014. Opening times are daily from 9.30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Not only will you be able to enjoy Rita’s art, but by buying one of the paintings, you will also be helping the Malta Guide Dogs Foundation.

Malta goes Jazz

The Malta Jazz Festival 2014 has announced its full programme line-up with world-class acts and rising jazz stars spread over three days in the unique setting of the Grand Harbour. Once again the stage at Ta’ Liesse – where the city meets the sea – will host some of the biggest names in jazz, including Tom Harrell Colors of a Dream and Brecker Brothers Band Reunion “The Heavy Metal Bebop Tour”.

Now in its 24th edition, the Malta Jazz Festival has helped raise the profile of jazz locally from a fringe festival to one of the most-awaited musical events in Malta’s artistic and cultural calendar. Running from the 17th to the 19th July in the open-air setting of Ta’ Liesse – where the Grand Harbour bastions meet the sea – contemporary music comes together with a sense of history, setting the backdrop for high-calibre performances which delight jazz aficionados and lay persons alike.

This year’s line-up will showcase the diversity of styles which constitute the contemporary jazz scene

This, however, is only one of the many intersections running through this year’s festival. Another is that created by the musicians themselves as they cross jazz with other types of music. Mehliana (featuring Brad Mehldau and Mark Guiliana), for instance – which is set to be one of the festival’s hottest tickets – mix jazz with electronica to create a trance-laden music while the French-born musician Laurent Coq combines Caribbean/Creole influences with modern jazz piano in his Laurent Coq Dialogue Trio.

Other rising stars include vibraphonist Warren Wolf and Kneebody, a band which crosses genres with ease. Local talent will be represented by Paul Abela Quintet featuring Gabriele Comeglio on Thursday 17th, Joseph Camilleri Trio and Dominic Galea Trio on Friday 18th and Francesca Galea, the winner of last year’s Jazz Contest, on Saturday 19th.

“This year’s line-up will showcase the diversity of styles which constitute the contemporary jazz scene,” says artistic director Sandro Zerafa. “In its mission to combine a wide audience appeal with quality and artistic integrity, this year the Malta Jazz Festival will feature a variety of cutting edge acts.”

With a programme which also includes a fringe festival – Jazz on the Fringe – featuring masterclasses and open-air concerts, the festival also provides opportunities for collaborations between local and international musicians.

Tickets for the Malta Jazz Festival 2014 cost €30 for a single-day ticket (seated) or €75 for a 3-day block ticket (seated). Standing single-day tickets are also available for €20 (free seating available) while a 3-day block ticket (standing) can be bought for €40 (free seating available). Those who book until the end of April can avail themselves of an early bird discount: €60 instead of €75 for a 3-day block ticket – seated; €25 instead of €30 for a single-day ticket – seated, €30 instead of €40 for a 3-day block ticket – standing (free seating available) and €15 instead of €20 for a single-day ticket – standing (free seating available).

For full programme and line-ups visit

The Changing Face of Folk

There is the music of course – a varied programme of foreign and local acts which this year will revolve around the gypsy theme, with bands from Spain, Croatia and Israel. And there is the gћana – in turn soulful or comical – but always heartfelt, which comes pouring from the stage. And then there is the ambience, too, the beautiful Argotti Gardens, decked with lights and life, providing a fairytale setting to the tunes, old and new, filling the air.

But perhaps the real reason which makes Gћanafest one of Malta’s fastest-growing festivals is the atmosphere: friendly and relaxed, families, young and not-so-young will feel equally at home here. Local artisans work at their crafts before your eyes, and will often chattily explain how they are made. This year, there’s a children’s workshop on tberfil too – the decorative painted lettering often found on the old buses which is rapidly dying out.

Yet despite its increasing popularity, the festival is still intimate enough for details to be curated lovingly. Even the food is carefully picked to a theme: no commercial entities are in sight: you are likelier to find pastizzi, imqaret and all things traditionally Maltese, making this festival – devoted to music, food and crafts – much more than just a series of concerts.

In such a setting, folk music can flourish. Folk’s power lies in its telling of simple stories, the stirring tunes, the stunning rich voices – and this year’s Gћanafest – which will run from 30 May to 1 June with a gypsy/klezmer music theme – promises plenty of all of those. The festival, which is supported by the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts and the Ministry for Justice, Culture and Local Government, is organised under the auspices of Fondazzjoni Ċelebrazzjonijiet Nazzjonali (FCN) in collaboration with Valletta 2018 Foundation.

BGKO – Ghanafest 2014Foreign bands include BGKO (Barcelona Gypsy Klezmer Orchestra), an ever growing family of professional musicians and singers that are often invited for guest appearances. As musicians and singers from Turkey, Slovenia, Switzerland, England, Russia, Serbia, India, France, Greece, Italy, Mexico, Spain, Iran and Israel gave their contribution to the never-ending story, the BGKO brought Klezmer, Gipsy and Balkan music to all generations of Barcelona. Musical band Cinkuši has been playing ethno music for many years, combining their Kajkavian roots and heritage with contemporary trends using many different songwriters and lyrics from sources such as Croatian writer Miroslav Krleža, Joško Božanić, Carmina Burana, The Book of Genesis all the way to the clichés that stir collective emotions. Cinkuši’s music has been included in prestigious foreign and national song collections and the band has collaborated on numerous theatre and film projects. Cinkuši received an award for the best original music at the 13th Days of Croatian Cinema and they were the subject of a documentary by Croatian National Television. Cinkuši’s third album Spiritus Sanctus won the Croatian music award Porin in the category of best ethnic (world music) album of the year.

Ramzailech from Israel will play on Sunday; their formula is simple and highly effective: an unstoppable live act, band members that head-dive right into the crowd, hora-circles and mosh pits of happy people and hardcore klezmer music everywhere. Ramzailech carried the hardcore-klezmer gospel overseas to Europe and even Asia with the spicy mixture of rock, Yiddish, English, Arab, Hebrew and hardcore Klezmer. They will play at Gћanafest 2014 with the support of the Israeli embassy.

The Maltese bands, too, bring their own specific brand of contemporary folk rooted in tradition. From Mistura and Frank O’Neill on Friday night to Kantilena on Sunday night, these bands all bring a focus on the Maltese language and contemporary folk. The qarċilla, too – the wedding parody which was revived for this year’s Carnival – will make a return to this year’s Gћanafest, accompanied by a musical element, on Saturday evening.

Of course Gћanafest remains the biggest local showcase of gћana, offering a unique opportunity to experience the different styles of Maltese folk music. Simple but heartfelt, folk music is often about stories – from the personal to the universal, from the ancient to the modern, and gћana is particularly suited to this type of storytelling. As with gypsy folk music, there is a raw intensity which seems to pour out of a collective soul. Set against the beautiful setting of the Argotti Gardens, with its timeless themes, stirring tunes and rich voices, this is a festival that will not leave you unmoved.

The Festival will be held on 30 May-1 June at 7pm, Argotti Gardens, Floriana – within walking distance from Valletta. Tickets: €3 and €7 for a three-day block ticket available at the door.

2Cellos to perform in Valletta

Go and see them live, because it really is astonishing! I can’t remember seeing anything as exciting as them since I saw Jimi Hendrix live back in the sixties.

Elton John

Young Croatian cellists Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser, known as 2CELLOS, will be performing in Valletta on Monday 14th July 2014 during the Malta International Art Festival.

The virtuoso duo achieved sensational success by taking the cello to a new level and breaking the boundaries between different genres of music, from classical and film music to pop and rock. 2CELLOS know no limits when it comes to performing live and are equally as impressive when playing Back and Vivaldi as they are when rocking out AC/DC.

[alerts title=”Festival Programme” type=”info”]Download the Malta International Art Festival 2014 Programme[/alerts]

Mgarr turns red during Strawberry Festival

The annual strawberry festival has once again attracted hoards of locals and tourists to the quiet farmers’ village of Mgarr. The otherwise calm village square turns red with fresh strawberries and other food and drink items with strawberry as their main ingredient. The red, ripe hand-picked fruit attracts thousands of visitors to taste not just the fresh fruit, but also the tasty pastries, pancakes, waffles, ice-cream, sorbets, milkshakes and the much sought-after delicate strawberry wine.

We also spotted a pizza with strawberries on one of the stalls surrounding the village Church.

Visitors enjoyed their Sunday outing followed by lunch in the square or a picnic in the rural area, close to the gorgeous Gnejna Bay.

[alerts title=”Recommendations” type=”info”]

Malta Village Holidays recommends staying at the following properties to explore and enjoy Mgarr and the surroundings:


A feast of Strawberries

The picturesque parish square in the agricultural village of Imgarr, surrounded by lush green valleys will once again host ‘Festa Frawli’ – the annual Strawberry Fair . Now in its 8th edition, this event is now a much awaited fixture in the Maltese calendar.

A constant supply of freshly picked strawberries will be on sale throughout the day, ferried regularly to the square by the farmers themselves. A wide variety of desserts, snacks and beverages will be available in our open air kitchen, all made with fresh Imgarr strawberries. Professional chefs will also be preparing novelty strawberry based gourmet dishes such as ravioli and a non-alcoholic cocktail bar. Home made strawberry wine, jams, conserves and other typical products will also be on sale. Souvenirs, artworks and crafts will be exhibited by the craftsmen themselves. A second open air kitchen will be offering typical Maltese dishes.

Folk and Ethnic music performed by leading Maltese artists using traditional instruments, and folk dance troupes from all around Malta and Gozo will provide fitting entertainment for this unique celebration of Maltese agricultural heritage. Special activities will also take place throughout the day; among which is the unveiling of a record breaking (Malta’s largest ever) strawberry gateau and a strawberry cupcake competition and a painting competition open to all.

April to host 8th International Spring Orchestra Festival

Eight concerts will form the 8th Edition of the International Spring Orchestra Festival taking place between the 22nd and the 26th of April at the Teatru Manoel.

Hosted every year in April, the International Spring Orchestra Festival is the brainchild of artistic director and Paris-based composer Karl Fiorini.

“I am delighted to say that organising this Festival has been an annual challenge however the very positive feedback that this event has been garnering kept confirming its growing popularity,” says Mr Fiorini who started off this project with the establishment of the Association International Spring Orchestra Festival (ISOFestival) in December 2005.

Since then the Festival has seen the participation of some of the best of breed of Maltese talent including the likes of Brian Schembri and violinist Carmine Lauri.

“The aim of the festival is not just to make good music but also to serve as a platform for young local talent. The idea of the Festival is also to create partnerships with the invited orchestras – having artistic exchanges not based simply on an invitation to perform. Soloists are in turn invited to perform in the guest’s artist homeland and perform Maltese compositions abroad,” explained Karl Fiorini.

Speaking about the programme, Mr Fiorinin added “there is a pool of local musicians that I want to work with, because I personally believe in their artistic capabilities and excellence. The same goes for the invited artists. The choice of program has been conceived between all those involved.”

“This year will be truly unforgettable especially since Lucia Micallef will be making a comeback on the Maltese concert platform during this year’s Edition. The Festival has also established a new partnership agreement with the European Union Chamber Orchestra of UK and will this year offer performances by Maltese talent including Brian Schembri, Charlene Farrugia and Clare Ghigo who will all perform together with the Argotti Ensemble and Cosmos Wind Ensemble,” added Karl Fiorini.

The Programme
The Cosmos Wind Ensemble will kick-off the ISOFestival on Tuesday 22nd April with a program of virtuosic and tongue-in-cheek works, some of which composed specifically for the Cosmos Ensemble, by local composers Veronique Vella, Albert Garzia and Ruben Zahra.

Mezzo-soprano Clare Ghigo will be teaming up with “l’enfant terrible” of Maltese pianism, Charlene Farrugia on Thursday 24th April to give us a rendition of works by de Falla, Obradors, Strauss, Kurt Weill and Rueben Pace, concert titled Songs my mother taught me. Some of us will remember Ghigo from last year’s edition with a terrific interpretation of de Falla’s El amor Brujo. This concert will leave the audience equally trilled.

On Friday 25th the Argotti string quartet comprising Maria Conrad, Nemanja Ljubinkovic Aureliano Balducci, and Akos Kertesz, will be performing Korngold’s 2nd string quartet, two pieces for string quartet, by Dmitri Shostakovich and Ravel’s famous String Quartet in F major.  A must for string quartet lovers!

The ISOFestival will close on Saturday 26th April with Lucia Micallef playing four Bach keyboard concertos featuring the European Union Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Malta’s most loved conductor, Brian Schembri.
This year’s edition of the ISOFestival is being generously supported by the Ministry of Finance, the ADRC Trust, the Malta Stock Exchange and D&G Advocates.

Lunchtime concerts are at 12:30, Sala Isouard. Concerts are free, open donation at the door, except for Friday and Saturday’s concerts. Reservations can be made on or [email protected] or by calling 2124 6389.

[alerts title=”A Brief History of the Festival” type=”warning”]
The first edition, held under the patronage of HE the President of the Republic of Malta was held in April 2007 and involved 25 musicians from different countries who convened in Malta for master classes with world renowned musicians and performed a week-long programme of six concerts. Year in year out, the Festival kept growing and although spanning a week, more and more musicians started being involved.

In 2010, the Festival ventured out of its confines of Teatru Manoel and saw the first outreach program with a concert at Mater Dei hospital. This edition saw 7 concerts which were all fully-booked. A year later, the outreach program was successfully repeated and also included the first educational workshops for children. Concerts were also performed at The Point shopping mall in Tignè as well as at Marsaskala’s waste plant. Eleven concerts with the participation of 52 musicians and an attendance of over 2,000 patrons saw another fully-booked edition.

Last year, the Festival established a partnership with the Ensemble Télémaque, Marseille and the Marseille 20013 European Capital of Culture and involved 60 musicians.