The King’s Own Philharmonic Society of Valletta, which is celebrating its 150th year since its foundation in 1874 by maestro Giuseppe Borg, will hold its annual concert at the Catholic Institute in Floriana on Saturday, February 17, at 8pm.
The concert will include a selection of different musical genres thoughtfully chosen to captivate as wide an audience as possible, varying from classical pieces to arias, nostalgic Napoletan tunes, etc. Two star guest singers, tenor Gabriel Arce of Argentina, currently based in Madrid, and soprano Claire Caruana, will perform.
Apart from well-known pieces, two exclusive works will be performed in Malta for the first time, The King’s Own by Italian composer Lorenzo Pusceddu and Cycles and Myths by Nuno Osorio. The latter is an intruiging musical piece which although being classical, sounds quite modern and brings out a mix of contemporary rhythmical sounds alternating with quieter intermezzi.
The band, directed by John Galea, will also perform other works, including O mio babbino caro by Puccini, O sole mio by Di Capua, Funiculì Funiculà by Denza, Il mondo by Fontana, E lucevan le stelle by Puccini, Voices of Spring by Strauss, Nessun dorma by Puccini and Parigi, o cara and Brindisi by Verdi.
The concert will end with the band’s hymn Omaggio alla King’s Own by Francesco Gobet, followed by the Maltese national anthem.
The event is one of six musical concerts which the society is organising as part of this year’s anniversary activities. The committee has actually planned a monthly event until December.
The King’s Own Band was initially given the name La Nazzionale. In 1901, King Edward VII, who had already visited the island numerous times, gave his consent for the band to bear his name, hence The King’s Own Band.
Throughout the years, the band has enjoyed several achievements. Of particular importance is the title of Eccellenza after classifying Grade A in all musical categories in Algiers in 1912 while participating in the Grand Concours International de Musique. It was the first civic band in Malta to earn such a title.
The band was also instrumental in keeping alive the national day. The band played the Maltese anthem for the first time in public in 1936.
The band was also in the limelight during celebrations marking the end of World War II and premiered the march Victory by composer Vincenzo Ciappara.
Quite recently, when Valletta was declared the cultural city of Europe in 2018, the King’s Own Band was one of the leading bands to participate in more than 10 activities in the capital, including a musical concert at the Manoel Theatre titled Bands at the Manoel Weekend.